Overhead bins for large items ONLY??

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Old Apr 8, 19, 9:47 am
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Overhead bins for large items ONLY??

I was on UA 2239 yesterday from SFO-EWR. I had seat 20C. I had checked my bags and only had a laptop bag and a small purse with me. I knew that 20C, being an exit row aisle, had half the storage in front of the seat when compared to normal seats - even that half is further reduced due to the inbuilt box under seat 12C. I knew I could not put anything more than a small purse under the seat in front of me.

I boarded with group 1 and placed my laptop bag in the overhead bin, and my purse in the tiny space under the seat in front of me. Towards the end of boarding, an FA came to my row, picked up my laptop bag from the overhead bin and asked whose it was. When I identified it as mine, he put it in my lap and tried to put another passenger’s large duffel bag in the overhead bin. I protested saying there was no place to put my laptop bag. He said I should put smaller items under the seat in front of me as overhead bins were reserved only for large items. I showed him the space in front of my seat, so he knew there was no way to fit a laptop bag there. He then said he would find space for my laptop bag and went to the front of the plane. In the meantime, I went ahead and placed my bag in the overhead bin, preempting the other passenger from placing his large duffel there. Several minutes later, the FA returned and told the other passenger he would need to check his bag.

I thought that was the end of it. The FA came back to my row later and said:

FA – “We are all good now. But for your information, the overhead bins are only for the large carry-ons”
Me – “I thought passengers are supposed to put THEIR large carry-on in the overhead bin and the smaller item in front of them”
FA – “No, the overhead bins are reserved for large carry-ons only”
Me – “What would you have me do? Check my laptop bag even when that is my large item?”
FA – “Well yes. Other flight attendants would probably have made you do that but since I am nice, I won’t do it”
Me – “You can’t do that !!!”
FA – “You want to try me?”

At this point, I was beyond stunned. I’m close to hitting a million miles on UA soon. For an FA to try to bully me into checking my one single laptop bag to fit a late arriving passenger’s large duffel is beyond unprofessional. And to taunt a passenger with that last statement – I have no words!!! Had I not been in a rush to get back home, I would have escalated the issue to the purser/captain of the flight. I chose to remain quiet and let the FA have his power trip. I have written to UA customer care but I highly doubt anything will come of it. I am still seething nearly a day later. I did describe the FA in my email to customer service - hopefully they can identify him and re-train him. Sigh!!!
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Old Apr 8, 19, 10:00 am
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Absolutely ridiculous.

This topic comes up here on flyertalk from time to time. There is even a contingent here who feel that someone who only has a personal item (no large item) should be obliged to put it under the seat, so as to be courteous to the other passengers... many of whom bring their massively oversized carryons AND oversized "personal items"... both of which they jam in the overhead.

For the FA to push this when you clearly could not use the underseat storage is outrageous. The later arriving passenger should definitely be the one to check a bag.
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Old Apr 8, 19, 10:03 am
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The power trip and inconsistent of FA happens on any airlines as we are discussing human personalities not a corporate culture or brand. I don't think your status or approaching million miles is as much of a factor as this person had a bully power trip and didn't want someone talking back to them.
I've seen identical situations to this and in their defense (not that this scenario requires any explanation as FA is wrong) - there are passengers who think they can put their laptop bag & hat in overhead so they have open/clear foot space in front of them. In that situations the FA is correct. Unfortunately, in your situation the FA didn't realize you were bulk or exit and should not have assumed plus realize you did put your smaller item in front of you and met safety procedures. I've had this identical happen to me (backpack while seated in bulk) and FA took it out and moved it after pushing in roller thinking I was in the wrong. The FA did bring to me my backpack immediately after take-off if I needed access which calm my nerves as I'd rather have it overhead in view as I was the 10th passenger boarding the aircraft.

I hope time will calm you down and you know the CCare will result in nothing besides them restating policy which didn't apply to your situation, as you were 100% correct. Maybe, if deja vu and the rest of us quickly status, I'm in bulk/exit and already have a smaller item in front of me.
As a follow-up - I do think it is acceptable/proper for the FA to move overhead items around to accommodate a bag or efficient alignment. Just be courteous when doing it, "Sir, would you mind if I moved your item two rows ahead to accommodate this larger bag?"
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Last edited by RooseveltL; Apr 8, 19 at 10:11 am
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Old Apr 8, 19, 10:16 am
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Originally Posted by RooseveltL View Post
As a follow-up - I do think it is acceptable/proper for the FA to move overhead items around to accommodate a bag or efficient alignment. Just be courteous when doing it, "Sir, would you mind if I moved your item two rows ahead to accommodate this larger bag?"
Had he left the situation after asking the other passenger to check his bag, I would not be here writing this. What was unacceptable to me was that he came back and taunted me with the "You want to try me" comment. I'm a woman of color, BTW, but I don't think that played any role in this altercation.
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Old Apr 8, 19, 10:23 am
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Clearly the FA's conduct was inappropriate.

But it would have been better to just say "Okay, thanks" when the FA gave you the speech at the end. There's no point disagreeing with him at that point, you've already won.
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Old Apr 8, 19, 10:24 am
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Originally Posted by LordHamster View Post
There is even a contingent here who feel that someone who only has a personal item (no large item) should be obliged to put it under the seat, so as to be courteous to the other passengers... many of whom bring their massively oversized carryons AND oversized "personal items"... both of which they jam in the overhead.
My decision to be courteous to others is not dependent upon their reciprocity.

Originally Posted by LordHamster View Post
For the FA to push this when you clearly could not use the underseat storage is outrageous. The later arriving passenger should definitely be the one to check a bag.
In this specific case, I agree. If the bag would not fit under the seat in front of the OP, and the OP was not in violation of the rules by bringing on another item, then the bag had to go in the overhead.

Regardless, while I would love to see FAs enforce "big items only" (and one item per passenger!) in the overhead bin (except for bulkhead passengers, of course), there's no excuse for being rude about it, and it needs to be done with an awareness of the situation.
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Old Apr 8, 19, 10:27 am
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
Clearly the FA's conduct was inappropriate.

But it would have been better to just say "Okay, thanks" when the FA gave you the speech at the end. There's no point disagreeing with him at that point, you've already won.
Such passive responses are what feed/encourage the bad behavior of the few FAs. I wish more people stood up to such FAs and complained - else we will continue to have such incidents and normalize this behavior. I really really wish I did not need to be home last night - else I would have escalated the issue even if it meant being deplaned.
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Old Apr 8, 19, 10:28 am
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
My decision to be courteous to others is not dependent upon their reciprocity.
I would argue by ONLY taking a personal item aboard, you've already been more courteous than 95% of the flying population. However, if you'd like to go the extra mile and put your one item under your feet, I commend you. Just don't try to make me feel guilty about taking only one tiny item onboard... then daring to store it overhead rather than underfoot.

Just to be clear.. in the case where someone a carryon and a personal Item, I agree, the personal item should go under the seat.
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Old Apr 8, 19, 10:41 am
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Originally Posted by pindi View Post
Such passive responses are what feed/encourage the bad behavior of the few FAs. I wish more people stood up to such FAs and complained - else we will continue to have such incidents and normalize this behavior. I really really wish I did not need to be home last night - else I would have escalated the issue even if it meant being deplaned.
Complaining to UA post-flight is fine. "Standing up" to the FA is likely to get you booted off the aircraft. And once that happens, your complaint will typically get zero traction, because the airline will back the crew.

Really, this does not strike me as a grave injustice worthy of the amount of mental energy you are apparently spending on it.
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Old Apr 8, 19, 10:44 am
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Originally Posted by LordHamster View Post
I would argue by ONLY taking a personal item aboard, you've already been more courteous than 95% of the flying population.
Not if you then put that item, which would fit into your personal space under the seat in front of you, into the shared overhead space. At best, you're no more courteous than anyone else who follows the rules. A backpack and a full-size carry-on take up a surprisingly similar amount of usable space in the overhead, unless there happens to be another passenger who is also putting a backpack up and they can fit atop one another.
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Old Apr 8, 19, 10:45 am
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Originally Posted by Kacee View Post
Complaining to UA post-flight is fine. "Standing up" to the FA is likely to get you booted off the aircraft. And once that happens, your complaint will typically get zero traction, because the airline will back the crew.

Really, this does not strike me as a grave injustice worthy of the amount of mental energy you are apparently spending on it.
Really? Had I been forced to check my laptop bag, I would have to either carry my laptop in my hand for the rest of the flight as large electronics are not allowed in the seatback pocket, OR risk the damage/theft of laptop while checked. And you believe I should not be upset over being put in a situation like that? What if it was a less seasoned traveler who was forced to check their bag and lost the bag in transit? We each have our breaking point where we believe spending such mental energy is needed. This was mine. Glad to know your level of tolerance for such nonsense is higher.
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Old Apr 8, 19, 10:55 am
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Originally Posted by pindi View Post
Really? Had I been forced to check my laptop bag, I would have to either carry my laptop in my hand for the rest of the flight as large electronics are not allowed in the seatback pocket, OR risk the damage/theft of laptop while checked.
It didn't happen. You won. My suggestion would be, write your complaint to UA and move on.
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Old Apr 8, 19, 10:58 am
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Originally Posted by jsloan View Post
Not if you then put that item, which would fit into your personal space under the seat in front of you, into the shared overhead space. At best, you're no more courteous than anyone else who follows the rules. A backpack and a full-size carry-on take up a surprisingly similar amount of usable space in the overhead, unless there happens to be another passenger who is also putting a backpack up and they can fit atop one another.
Re-read the OP. The laptop bag did not fit under the seat in front of her.

In my view, the OP was entitled to put her laptop bag in the overhead. I'd even be ok with the moving around to accommodate a large bag, but not if that meant checking my laptop bag. The FA's bogus "the overhead bins are for large items only" all falls apart when you consider an economy bulkhead passenger. As most of us know, some EU airlines don't even allow anything under the seat in front of you (Y exit row).

All that aside, the FA's behavior was unacceptable and, to be honest, not surprising at all on a US carrier.

Last edited by seanp7; Apr 8, 19 at 11:05 am
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Old Apr 8, 19, 11:00 am
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Originally Posted by pindi View Post
Had he left the situation after asking the other passenger to check his bag, I would not be here writing this. What was unacceptable to me was that he came back and taunted me with the "You want to try me" comment. I'm a woman of color, BTW, but I don't think that played any role in this altercation.
I actually think because you are a woman could have been part of this. I am not someone that easily plays the gender card but it astounds me the number of times the FAs (male and female) will ask a female pax to move something and not a male pax. Agree it is probably not a race issue.

Sorry you had that experience and when this happens to me, which unfortunately it does such that although I like the bulkhead and exit rows I now select the row behind or in front, I now just keep quiet as I do not wish to be removed from the plane.
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Old Apr 8, 19, 11:03 am
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Originally Posted by pindi View Post
Really? Had I been forced to check my laptop bag, I would have to either carry my laptop in my hand for the rest of the flight as large electronics are not allowed in the seatback pocket, OR risk the damage/theft of laptop while checked. And you believe I should not be upset over being put in a situation like that? What if it was a less seasoned traveler who was forced to check their bag and lost the bag in transit? We each have our breaking point where we believe spending such mental energy is needed. This was mine. Glad to know your level of tolerance for such nonsense is higher.
I think this would be my breaking point as well. There is no way I could have shut up after the FA asked "You wanna try me?". I would have replied "Yes".
So then what? He calls the captain and has me kicked off the flight. For what reason? Because he feels like it???
They would surely have to call the cops and Dr. Dao me off, because I would not go willingly, and in the interim I would be recording everything (as I'm sure my seat mates would be).
And you are completely right (on your previous post) if we don't start standing up to this BS it will only get worse.
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