MORE ROOM FOR CARRY ON BAGS An idea whose time is definitely here

Posted on 10/15/2015

Alaska Airlines’ new Space Bin fitted 737 will go into service this week. Alaska has decided to retrofit its 737s and install big bins on new planes. By the end of 2017, half of the Seattle-based carrier’s fleet will have Space Bins.
The larger Space bins are part of a $150 million, three-year push to renovate interiors with new seats, individual power ports, better in-flight entertainment and Wi-Fi and big bins. Boeing won’t say how much the bigger bins cost, but they’d save airlines money by reducing delays. Passenger surveys show the lack of overhead space is one of the biggest gripes about airline travel today, says Alaska marketing vice president Sangita Woerner.  Business travellers complain most about weak Wi-Fi service, and families about lack of bin space.

 However, it’s virtually impossible to take space from one area of an airplane without giving up something else. In this case, it’s headroom: The entire overhead bin unit extends about 2 inches lower from the ceiling. “If you’re taller, you’ll notice a difference. That’s the trade-off,” said Boeing.  Overhead bins have grown in size over the years. In 2011 Boeing began installing pivot bins that push up into the ceiling as part of a new Sky Interior design for 737 jets. The pivot bins, common on widebody planes, increased space by about 10 percent  Airbus says it has developed new, pivoting bins for its A320 and A321 narrow-body jets that also increase bin volume by about 10 percent. The first plane with the new bins will be delivered to Delta next year.

 But neither the Boeing nor the Airbus pivot design fully solves the problem airlines created. Fees on checked baggage led travellers to increase carry their carry on baggage, while new seat designs have added more rows of seats but not more bin space.  Boarding a plane has become a problem as passengers and airlines haggle over the amount and size of carry on.  The Boeing team had started working on the overhead bin problem more than two years ago. Then Alaska became the first customer to actually ask Boeing to find a solution.