It’s time to ditch the overhead bin space on airplanes

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It's time to ditch the overhead bin space on airplanes

Image for article titled It's time to get rid of overhead compartment space on airplanes

photo: ROMEO GACAD/AFP (Getty Images)

On the way home from the Indianapolis 500, my first plane was already delayed, which cut my already tight connection time in Chicago by a good 15 minutes. A few people seemed to understand that picking up the pace and getting in quick might be a good idea. But not a man. Oh no. Not the man in front of me who decided to take a full two minutes to stow his luggage in the overhead compartment.

Now I would like to preface this by saying that I also used the space in the overhead compartment. When I’m on a short business trip, it’s nice to be able to pack my smallest suitcase and walk right out of the airport after landing. I don’t begrudge anyone This.

But there are some unspoken rules for overhead bin space. For example, you should be able to stow this luggage yourself or already have an emergency plan to get help. Luggage should fit in the trash can. Luggage should be stowed exactly as instructed – leading you to increasingly stow your bag on the side to maximize storage space. Items such as hats, jackets, small purses or backpacks are not considered overhead baggage. You should stow your luggage above your own seat. The entire process should take 30 seconds or less.

However, so many people don’t follow these simple rules – like the horrible man in front of me on my flight from Indy to Chicago. He had a scooter bag that he could stow over his head, but he also had a bag of chips in one hand and a small briefcase in the other.

The solution to his problem was not complex. He could have put his chips, his briefcase, or both in the seat he was supposed to be sitting on before stow his luggage. He could have placed both items on the floor or between his legs. But this man didn’t seem to notice. He stood there for several long, agonizing moments, contemplating his situation. He looked at his luggage. He looked at his chips. He looked at his briefcase. He was still thinking. He looked into the overhead compartment, which had plenty of room for his bag. He continued to think further.

I was milliseconds from just bidding Stow the damn bag for him when he finally moved. Instead of putting something down, this man tried to pick up his luggage with his single bag of chips. That did not work. He tried the briefcase hand. That didn’t work either. He tried with both hands, which were full.

And there he finally saw a flash of success. The wheels of the roller board had made it into the bin!

There was a problem, though: his aim was off the mark, and instead of stowing his luggage in the vast empty space available to him, he’d caught someone’s backpack (and the person Also deserves a special place in hell for putting a half-empty backpack in the overhead compartment rather than under the seat). Now I had to watch as this man wiggled his suitcase out of the backpack, then tried to move the backpack while I simultaneously tried to put the luggage away.

Normally I’m a patient person, but in this situation I literally felt my whole soul leave my body. It was gone. It had departed for another realm, and the empty cavern within my body was instead inhabited by a demon that had emerged straight from the depths of Hell. I was about to let out a howl befitting that demon, but I kept my mouth shut and this horrible man eventually stowed his luggage and let the rest of the plane board.

At this point I believe we lost all of our overhead baggage privileges. I understand that baggage screening is expensive and stressful. I understand that a lot of people don’t want to check a bag with, say, camera gear or medical supplies. But we have collectively lost our privileges. Instead of paying to have a bag checked in, we should now have to pay to put a bag in the overhead compartment. Otherwise screw them. No more excess baggage. We just can’t handle it.

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