There’s nothing worse than boarding a flight and discovering there’s no room left in the overhead bin to stow your carry-on. This scenario is common in the era of checked baggage fees, which are forcing many travelers to stuff as much as they can into a carry-on bag they can bring onboard.
The airlines are unlikely to do away with lucrative baggage fees, so airplane manufacturer Boeing has come up with a solution. It’s redesigning the overhead bins on 737 planes to accommodate more carry-ons. The new compartments are called Space Bins, and Boeing says they increase carry-on capacity by up to 50 percent.
Boeing’s 737 is one of the most common single-aisle commercial planes, so there’s a good chance you’ve shoved your carry-on into its overhead bin. The standard configuration on a typical 737 plane fits up to four carry-on bags. Thanks to a design change that allows bags to be turned on their side, Boeing’s Space Bins hold six carry-on bags. When opened, the bottom edge of the Space Bin hangs about 2 inches lower, just enough to allow passengers to stow 14-inch carry-on bags sideways.
Alaska Airlines is the world’s first air carrier to get Space Bins. The airliner is retrofitting its existing fleet of 737 planes, and in November of 2015 it began flying the first 737 featuring Space Bins. Alaska has 30 more retrofits planned this year and will be taking delivery of new aircraft featuring Space Bins. Nearly half of its fleet will be outfitted with Space Bins by 2017.
Boeing says other U.S. airlines are committed to Space Bins. Here’s a look at when travelers may see them on flights.
Delta Air Lines Space Bins
Delta Air Lines was slated to be the next airline getting Space Bins, and reports indicated they would appear on Delta aircraft in early 2016. So far, Delta hasn’t announced it has Space Bins in operation, though earlier this year Delta began flying A321 planes, made by Boeing competitor Airbus, outfitted with “high-capacity overhead bins” that stow rolling bags sideways.
American Airlines Space Bins
American Airlines will get its first Space Bins in 2017 when it takes delivery of Boeing’s forthcoming 737 MAX airplanes, the fourth generation of the 737. American ordered 100 of the planes.
United Airlines Space Bins
Boeing says United Airlines is a customer for its Space Bins, but it’s unclear when they’ll appear on United aircraft. United hasn’t announced plans to retrofit its existing 737 planes with Space Bins, so it seems likely they’ll appear when United takes delivery of new 737s it has on order with Boeing. United has orders for more than 150 737 airplanes, including 100 of the new 737 MAX.