American Airlines is doing its part to make the need to check carry-on bags at the gate a thing of the past. No, the carrier isn’t waiving sky-high checked bag fees for more passengers – instead, the carrier is slowly doubling overhead storage space and giving gate agents more information about the carry-on capacity of individual aircraft.
The nearly automatic need for passengers to gate check carry-on bags is becoming less of an issue on some flights operated by the world’s largest airline. A combination of policy changes and adding overhead storage space is starting to make the need for passengers to surrender their bags on the jetway much less likely at American Airlines.
At its core, overstuffed overhead bins can be traced directly to the extra seats squeezed into economy class cabins and steep fees charged for checked bags. The airline isn’t likely to risk revenue by dealing with either of these issues – in fact, bag fees were just recently raised nearly industry-wide and American Airlines management defended squeezing more seats into its aircraft. AA is, however, slowly giving passengers more in-cabin storage space for their carry-on bags.
While the inability of human beings to comfortably use the lavatory on many Boeing 737 MAX aircraft has dominated the headlines, the new planes also come equipped with “space bins” which, according to Boeing, can accommodate 50 percent more bags than standard overhead bins. American is also retrofitting some older 737 planes with the space bins and employing similar space-saving bins on its Airbus A321 aircraft.
In addition to holding more luggage than previous generations of bins, the space bins are easier to load. The unique configuration also makes the space less inviting for space-wasting personal items such as hats, coats and other loose items.
Perhaps more importantly, as Boarding Area’s Gary Leff points out, the carrier is giving gate agents more information about the amount of overhead space available on individual planes. This advance notice that the equipment at the gate has space bins will in theory make it less likely the gate agent will order passengers to begin checking their carry-on items – especially given American Airlines’ near-obsession with on-time departures where every second counts.