There’s a Trick to Closing American’s New Bigger Overhead Bins

The new American Airlines standard domestic interior – which crams more passengers into their planes than ever before – has one passenger-friendly feature: bigger overhead bins.

There’s enough space for each passenger on a full plane to bring a standard-sized carry on bag on board, which means passengers shouldn’t have to gate check their bags. That’s great for passengers, and also for the airline because gate checking can cause delays.

With more bags inside than before, the overhead bins can get heavy and difficult to close. It turns out there’s a trick to it.

Jill Surdek, American’s Senior Vice President of Flight Service, explained at the carrier’s “State of the Airline” meeting after their earnings call:

What’s confusing to people – and I’ll be honest, someone had to show me because I didn’t know either – you actually pull down the bin and it will on our newer planes help you raise it up so it’s not like you’re lifting 50 pounds straight overhead.

This is important for flight attendants who close bins throughout the aircraft every day, but it’s also useful for customers to know this too.

If this trick doesn’t work, bear in mind “there are sometimes where that mechanism itself that helps it auto-lift doesn’t, it might get broken.”

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. I think they mean if you just let the empty bin fall down under its own weight, it won’t open fully and engage the pneumatic tubes. So if you pull it down fully, you will get a little assist during the first few inches of closing it that will give you more momentum to close it all the way.

    I think…I agree that was a terrible way to describe what is going on if that is true.

  2. As usual, C-level exec can’t speak without obfuscating.

    It means: when the bin is all the way open, or ‘down’, you then give it a *slight* tug down ward and the hydraulic shocks (if functioning properly) will ‘auto-lift’ assist with the raising of the bin – thus taking some of the weight ‘off’.

  3. There is also some side toggle switch that I see the FAs toggle when they come through to close all the bins before departure. I have no idea what it does but I’ve seen them all do it on flights with these larger bins. Would love to know what the purpose of toggling the switch is, since you can obviously close the bin without toggling the switch.

  4. Think of it like a roll-up window blind: you give it a little tug down, and the mechanism kicks in and starts pulling up.

  5. ORD Flyer,

    The toggle isn’t on the newest bins, referred to in this article, but the ones prior to these. The toggle assists in closing the bin, taking some of the weight off for the FA to close.

  6. Add a few more minutes to deplane while everyone pulls down their heavy bags so not a real time saver.

  7. “it will on our newer planes help you”.

    Apart from the confusing sentence structure, this seems to be a bad design idea. How do you know whether you are on one of “our newer planes”? Newer than what? If someone had to show it to her then there’s no sign, which means after some time, people will just be tugging on all overhead bins to see if they raise up. Good business for the American maintenance crews!

  8. It’s simple if you have flown on a 737 with sky interior (this goes for your beloved DL as well as SW, UA), Just pull down slightly, and then push up, a hydraulic lift assists with the raising of the bin into position.

    There was nothing wrong with her explanation.

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