The Cult of Cars, Racing and Everything That Moves You.
We may earn a commission from links on this page

It's Time to Get Rid of Overhead Bin Space on Airplanes

No one knows how to store luggage in overhead bins, and you should all lose your privileges.

We may earn a commission from links on this page.
Image for article titled It's Time to Get Rid of Overhead Bin Space on Airplanes
Photo: ROMEO GACAD/AFP (Getty Images)

On my way back home from the Indianapolis 500, my first plane was already late to arrive, which had sliced a good 15 minutes off my already tight connection time in Chicago. A few people seemed to get the memo that perhaps it would be a good idea to pick up the pace and board quickly. But not one man. Oh, no. Not the man in front of me that decided to take two full minutes to stow his luggage in the overhead bin space.

Now, I’d like to preface this by saying that I, too, have used the overhead bin space. If I’m on a short work trip, it’s nice to be able to pack up my smallest suitcase and walk right out of the airport when I land. I do not begrudge anyone for this.


But there are several unspoken rules about the overhead bin space. You should, for example, be able to stow this luggage yourself or already have a contingency plan in place to receive assistance. The luggage should fit in the bin. The luggage should be stowed exactly as instructed — which increasingly has been stowing your bag on its side to maximize bin space. Things like hats, jackets, small purses, or backpacks do not qualify as overhead bin luggage. You should stow your luggage above your own seat. The whole process should take 30 seconds or less.

So many people, though, fail to follow these simple rules — such as the terrible man in front of me on my flight from Indy to Chicago. He had a rollerboard bag to stow overhead, 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 placed his chips, his briefcase, or both into the seat in which he was to sit before stowing his luggage. He could have set either item on the ground or between his legs. But this man did not appear to realize that. He stood there for several long, excruciating moments pondering his situation. He looked at his luggage. He looked at his chips. He looked at his briefcase. He thought about things some more. He looked into the overhead bin space, which had ample room for his bag. He proceeded to continue thinking.

I was mere milliseconds away from offering to just stow the damn bag for him when he finally made a move. Instead of setting anything down, this man tried to use his single chip-bag hand to pick up his luggage. This did not work. He tried the briefcase hand. That, too, did not work. He tried both hands, which were full.

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

There was, however, a problem: his aim was off, and instead of stowing his luggage in the massive empty space available to him, he had caught someone’s backpack (and that person also deserves a special place in hell for placing a half-empty backpack in the overhead bin rather than under their seat). Now, I had to watch this man wiggle his suitcase free of the backpack, then try to move the backpack while also trying to stow the luggage.


I am normally a patient person, but in this situation, I quite literally felt my entire soul leave my body. It was gone. It had departed for a different realm, and the empty cavity in my body was instead inhabited by a demon that spawned directly from the pits of hell. I wanted to let out a howl fit for that demon, but I kept my mouth shut, and this terrible man finally stowed his luggage, leaving the rest of the plane to board.

At this point, I believe we have all lost our overhead luggage privileges. I understand that checking a bag is expensive and stressful. I understand that plenty of people don’t want to check a bag of, say, camera equipment or medical supplies. But we have, collectively, lost our privileges. Instead of paying to check a bag, we should now have to pay to stow a bag in the overhead bin. Otherwise, fuck ‘em. No more overhead luggage. We simply cannot handle it.