With nearly every airline charging a checked bag fee, passengers are trying to cram more and more into the overhead bins.
That creates problems for both airlines and passengers but the chore might get a little easier on new and retrofitted Boeing 737s.
Alaska Airlines is taking delivery of some of the new jets that feature Boeing's new Space Bins, which the airline says will increase the room for carry-on bags by 48%. Alaska says its the first airline to line up for the capacity-adding feature.
"Alaska is relentlessly focused on making the travel experience better," said Sangita Woerner, Alaska Airlines vice president of marketing. "We've been on a mission to improve our cabin experience for several years and Space Bins are part of a $150 million investment we've made to make flying more comfortable and enjoyable.”
By the end of 2017, Woerner says nearly half of Alaska Air's fleet will have larger bins to accommodate a carry-on bag for virtually every passenger.
Installed on 34 new jets
The airline said it will take delivery of 34 737s and one MAX in the next two years and will begin retrofitting 34 Boeing Sky Interior aircraft, primarily 737-900ERs, in 2016.
Other airlines are sure to explore this option, since all are wrestling with the space issue. Maura, a United passenger, posted this response from United Customer Service at ConsumerAffairs, when he complained that he could not find space for his bags.
“We strive to accommodate carry-on bags for the greatest number of customers possible,” the United rep wrote. “More customers are choosing to bring their luggage onboard, which could cause a shortage of storage space. Our planes have some of the largest overhead storage bins in the industry. When the bins become full, remaining bags must be gate-checked.”
Holds six bags
Alaska Airlines says very soon, it will have the largest overhead capacity. It says each Space Bin can hold six bags, two more than the current pivot bins installed on Next-Generation 737s with the Boeing Sky Interior. That's based on a standard size carry-on bag measuring 9 inches x 14 inches x 22 inches.
"We work closely with our customers to continuously enhance their airplanes so they can offer great passenger experiences," said Brent Walton, manager of 737 Interiors New Features for Boeing Commercial Airplanes. "We have a strong record of delivering value with innovative interiors features, like bigger bins that help reduce passenger anxiety about overhead storage and provide a better travel experience."
When open, the bottom edge of the Space Bin will hang about two inches lower, so travelers can lift their carry-on bags in and out more easily. The deeper bins will allow more bags to be stowed and increase visibility into the back of the bins.
Alaska also says the Space Bins, designed without a flight attendant bin assist mechanism, will be easier to close.
Alaska Airlines said it is installing Space Bins on all its 737-900ERs and MAX aircraft currently on order and by 2017 will have 69 airplanes, or 46% of its passenger fleet, outfitted with Space Bins.