There’s No Room for My Bags: The Overhead Bin Dilemma

A standby passenger’s dream: lots of open seats and overhead bins to choose from!

I made my way to the back of the airplane, my dark brown eyes intently searching the crowded overhead bins for an available space to put my TravelPro bag. I had already passed my assigned seat six rows ago, but I remained focused on my goal of finding room for my carry on. After all, the plane couldn’t take off until everyone was seated with their items safely stowed away. As I reached the last row I discovered, to my dismay that there was no room in the overhead bins. Miserable and embarrassed, I turned around and started heading toward the front of the aircraft. I pushed my feelings of anxiety and mortification aside and walked hastily up the aisle fully aware of the numerous eyes staring at me.

I had an inkling of what was running through the passengers’ minds and I knew that I was causing a delay. As a standby passenger you are usually the last to board the plane thus having a limited amount of time to store your belongings compared to the passengers who boarded before you.

A young woman wearing a tank top in Pepto Bismol pink and jean shorts rolled her eyes at me as I passed by. Already perturbed, I shot her a look back and continued on my way. Once I reached the front I asked the flight attendant standing in the galley for assistance. She was courteous and called the gate agent who showed up with the ticket. Not long after, a ramp agent appeared on the jetway and took my bag down to the cargo bin. Feeling as if a huge burden had been lifted from my shoulders I finally took my seat.

This incident happened to me a few months ago while I was traveling to Minneapolis, Minnesota. For those of you curious, the bag that I was rolling around was not over-sized. It was small, but still too large to stow underneath the seat in front of me. I’ve always brought this bag on all my travels and have never run into any complications until this trip.

Without a doubt, one of the biggest challenges that both standby and paying passengers face today is not having any room on the plane to store their carry on bags. The baggage fees are quite expensive and depending on your destination it could cost more. Here’s a link to Delta’s website explaining their checked baggage guidelines and the cost of their fees. At $25 USD to check in the first bag and $35 USD for the second it’s no surprise that more travelers are bringing their bags into the airplane. Because of this quandary flights are becoming delayed, sometimes causing passengers with tight connections to miss their flights.

Here are a few tips to avoid running into the same situation for both standby and revenue passengers:

1. If you are flying standby and are lucky enough to go directly to your destination check in your bags. While this may be free for you keep in mind that it may not make it on the same flight you’re taking. The first time I checked in my bags they ended up arriving on a different flight the next day. Make sure you have important items such as keys and medication with you.

2. Pack lightly or bring a bag that is small enough to fit underneath the seat in front of you. If your trip is going to be short only bring the things you will need. I also suggest ‘rolling’ your clothes instead of folding. Not only will this method reduce wrinkling, but it will add room too. I bring my red Osprey backpack everywhere I go and rarely run into complications. The only times I run into a problem is when I get assigned the bulkhead seat. Still, I manage to find room for it since it’s a decent size.

3. If you do end up with the misfortune of not having a place to store your carry on simply tell your flight attendants. Remain calm and remember that this is a common problem. It’s so common nowadays that when a flight checks in full gate agents anticipate this occurrence and are usually there to help. They will give you a piece of paper that has your bag information and tell you that you must pick up your gate checked luggage in baggage claim. This service is free to both paying and standby passengers.

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