New “Space Bins” Increase Aircraft Carry-On Capacity By 48%

The new "space bins," featured on the left, can hold two more bags than traditional overhead bins.

The new “space bins,” featured on the left, can hold two more bags than traditional overhead bins.

Earlier this year, airline groups proposed a plan that would have required airlines to adopt a smaller carry-on bag standard. That idea was eventually scrapped, and that’s probably a good thing considering airlines are now looking to add roomier overhead storage bins through cabin upgrades.  

Boeing announced that Alaska Airlines will be the first carrier to receive a revamped Boeing 737 aircraft that includes so-called “space bins.”

The bins – which boost carry-on capacity by about 48% – will be able to accommodate six bags per bin compared to the current rate of four bags. In all, Boeing says Alaska’s 34 new planes will each hold about 174 bags in the overhead space, up from the 117 bags current aircraft accommodate.

Brent Walton, Boeing’s new features manager for the 737, says the new accommodations came as partnership between the manufacturer and airlines to enhance passenger experience.

“We have a strong record of delivering value with innovative interior features like bigger bins that help reduce passenger anxiety about overhead storage and provide a better travel experience,” he said.

He tells USA Today that the new feature also helps eliminate the need for airlines to gate-check bags when the plane is too full.

“The airlines think it may help them reduce their workload and also lead to faster turn times,” he says.

Still, the convenience for both passengers and airline employees came at a price: Boeing had to cut about 2 inches between the bottom of the overhead bin and passengers’ heads.

Walton says, so far, passengers testing the new feature have had positive responses.

“If anything, for those passengers who aren’t quite as tall, it’s been a little bit of an improvement to reach the attendant call light, the reading light and the (nozzles) for air,” he said.

Alaska Airlines expected to have the new space bins in half of its 150-plane fleet by the end of 2017, Boeing says in a statement.

“Virtually everyone can carry on a bag, which is fantastic,” Sangita Woerner, Vice President, Marketing at Alaska Airlines, tells USA Today of the new accommodations. “This is kind of another notch in that rung in terms of trying to deliver what’s right for the customer.”

The revamped bins are part of the airline’s there-year, $150 million investment to “deliver what’s right for the customer,” Woerner says.

Alaska Airlines isn’t the only carrier signing on for the new bins. Delta Air Lines will take on the revamped overhead space in 2016. Other airlines have also committed to the extra storage space.

[via USA Today]


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