American Airlines Crew Reserves Overhead Bin By Writing On It With A Sharpie

One of the scarcest resources on a plane is overhead bin space. Before 9/11 it was common for airlines to allow two full-sized carry on bags onboard and that didn’t even count your personal item. Planes weren’t as full, and airlines didn’t charge for checked bags, so most customers didn’t do that and it was generally possible to find space in the overhead bins.

Now that planes are booked full, TSA wants to limit how many items go through their security checkpoints, and airlines charge extra to check bags, people may only bring a single full-sized carry on but more people are doing it filling up those bins.

Though several airlines have put in larger overhead bins, there’s still not enough space, and one of the biggest frustrations passengers express in social media is being forced to gate check their bags. The rush for bin space can be a war of all against all, but that includes passengers versus crew too.

Crew board first and, with airlines reducing closet space (or removing closets altogether) they’re taking up bin space themselves. Sometimes though they want it all to themselves as appears to have been the case a week ago on American Airlines flight 164 from San Francisco to New York JFK.

Cabin crew took a sharpie on wrote “Crew” on an overhead bin in the last row of the Airbus A321T aircraft, back by the rear galley of the aircraft.

At least they didn’t take bin space above a bulkhead row, where passengers have no under seat storage area and must put all of their belongings above their seat. Using a marker, though, to create their own rules and signage is both a poor way to treat the aircraft interior, and a poor image to display to customers.

Whether or not it comes off easily, American Airlines will be redoing the interiors of these aircraft once they take delivery of new Airbus A321XLRs. That’s because these premium three-cabin planes that have been flying between New York JFK and both San Francisco and Los Angeles will be converted into standard (densified) A321s, while those routes will see new planes with a flat business suite, premium economy, and coach cabin with less legroom instead.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. @Joe – I have pictures proving it. Multiple times I have seen FAs with the roller bag, a bag hanging off the clip on the roller bag, another bag over the handle of the roller bag, and a shoulder bag/purse.

    It happens.

    I expect, at a minimum, the crew to have to follow the same regulations as the passengers.

  2. All this verbal diarrhea of animosity, angst and general whining over what looks like a really sketch (typical AA) replacement for a missing placard is pretty sad folks…. This has nothing to do with crew bag stowage, Row 22 overheads on the 321T are reserved for emergency equipment folks, good job Gary …. SMH

  3. Major yAAwn… can’t believe I wasted my time to read this worthless article.

  4. I see my constructive feedback got shared in, I presume, some Atlanta-based Facebook group for the gravity-challenged local FAs.

    Why don’t you ladies take your baby daddy’s Altima to the nearest English course? I promise, grammar will not hurt you.

    I shall provide a quick translation in the meantime: you biiiig gurl you go school!

  5. Someone made a comment about the number of bags crew members bring on board. Crew members, especially those on call, can on multi-day trips, laying over in many different climates. If you are literally living out of a suitcase, a single bag and small carry-on simply don’t cut it. My airline tried, for a time, gate checking crew bags, so many were damaged due to repeating the pattern of roughly tossing them on a chute to be loaded in the belly, plus when crew needed to change planes, flights were delayed waiting for our baggage. Doing the best we can, sorry you can’t understand that.

  6. So initially I though well hey I’ll just add an S and it will be my bin But yikes not when I’m upfront ;-). Give the FAs back of bus over other location – I acknowledge my privilege

    The saddest part is the future coach pitch. IMO AA (based on leadership heritage) might think they make money up front and prefer the price concerning folks go low cost AIRLINES. Then it seems that AA loyalty whether voluntary or coerced gets punished on the route for the folks in coach

  7. Having recently retired from TSA it always amazed us the amount and way over packed carry on bags passengers take on board. TSA does not regulate what can be carried on board. Some bags can weigh 50 lbs and we see passengers with more bags than 1 carry on and one personal item. As it has been said the airlines are at fault with their ridiculous fees for check in bags. However, passengers still don’t listen to the regulations. It is these problem passengers who contribute to long lines at security checkpoints and boarding gates.

  8. @ Sarah A Greene

    I am one of those odd frequent travelers.

    I worked for one of the top electronics manufacturers in the world and in my heaviest travel year, hit 357,972 domestic flight miles.

    I lived out of one suitcase, a small emergency roller (big enough for a change of clothes, my meds, and a laptop, and a small back pack with my charging stuff in it, as well as a tablet.

    There is no reason the crew cannot have Gate Checked bags. They are the first ones onto the plane and the last ones off.

  9. Big deal. Why shouldnt the crew out their bafs there.

    The real issue is with greed – from passengers and airline and it all started because of obese people (who ironically now greedily demand free seats)

    Fuel got expensive because the carried weight is so high. Because airlines cant currently set rules/fares based on passenger weight, they charge more for checked bags to reduce weight (coincidentally punishing healthy people).

    Passengers cant afford to pay those new checked bag charges so they try to bring it in the cabin, leading to this.

    Quite unironically those fat people usually have the most bags too and overlap your seat

  10. It’s pretty standard that crewmembers have at least 3 bags – the rollaboard, the inflight bag, the lunch bag. Some of us are commuters, others are on reserve for days and therefore it’s not possible to tackle our workday with one-size-fits-all approach. Many times we have three or four legs a day and we change planes/gates/terminals within a short connection time. We have to hit the ground running after every leg to work the next leg on time. Imagine if we have to check our bags in everytime and cause delays to our other legs. I don’t think customers will be happy.

  11. I am a million miler on AA and issues with both pax and crew are many. On one flight, the crew put their bags in the bin above row 10. I was in row 10 with no place for my bag. There were several deadhead crew members already on board. I asked rather vocally if these were their bags. No one responded and wouldn’t even look at me. I wrote down the crew member numbers from each bag and sent those to customer service. So much for AAs slogan “You are why we fly.”. NOT!!!!. This is a very typical trait of AA.

  12. Okay I’m sorry, as a former flight attendant this article is click bait. You said it yourself in the article. Airlines are removing closets on aircraft. The flight crew is entitled to storage for their belongings as they’re often gone for days and have minimum required equipment. Crew bins are standard on almost all aircraft, this one seems to not have a placard. End of story. Click bait.

  13. I don’t agree with defacing the aircraft. But flight crews have to protect their belongings however way they can from clueless passengers walking off with their luggage, or shady passengers stealing their belongs. It happens.

  14. As the article stated, the crew boards first. Ergo there would be no need to label any of the bins as the crew bags would already be stowed by the time boarding starts.

  15. Gary get a life! Do you want crews to go naked? I mean really where exactly should they place their belongings? Most airlines place a lock on the crew bin because people steal their crew bags. Yes a placard would be nice but this is the next best thing. Now please write a real article.

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