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Tips To Get Overhead Bin Space

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Flight Attendant Tips: Boarding & Getting Bin Space

You’re boarding the plane, and you hear some chatter over the aircraft audio system… “Ladies and Gentleman, please move into your row prior to putting your baggage away which will allow the passengers behind you to pass and get us in the air faster.” A few minutes later, the same less patient flight attendant repeats, “Ladies and Gentleman, there are several passengers standing in the jetway, please step into your row before stowing your bags, as this will expedite the boarding process…”




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Now, you have two options…you can first try to find a space for your suitcase, or step into your row. Let’s say you decide to step into your row. Of course, this has some obvious negatives. As you follow the rules, the other passengers put their bags in the overhead above your seat, thereby taking the overhead bin space and subjecting you to the dreaded and despised realm of gate checking your bag. Also, you have to maneuver your overstuffed bag into the row, which means you have to pick it up and put those wheels in the very seat you will be sitting in for the next 5 hours. This of course, after you have just rolled it all over the airport, and through a petri dish of unknown flora and fauna…otherwise known as the airport bathroom.

And what if you were just lucky enough to be the first person in your row? Now you have to either put your bag BACK into the aisle to allow your row buddy in, or you have to contort yourself by flattening your body like a gecko against said bag to allow passage into your row. Hopefully, you and your row buddy have “compatible dimensions” or this maneuver can become very interesting….


    Meanwhile, some of my flying partners are standing in the back galley, watching it all and keeping from laughing hysterically at the scene. We, I mean, “other” flight attendants only do this for a minute or two before fighting our way upstream to come help with the stowing process.


    Is there any hope? Why do airlines even ask passengers to do this? How can we, passengers and crew, work together to improve this process? To put my two cents in, I want to give you some background information to consider… In initial training, we saw this chart, which was based on FAA studies about the stress levels of crew during pre-departure activities. For some reason, even after over a decade of flying, the memory of this chart has never left me. Here is my interpretation of what I saw so many years ago:



    What? That doesn’t look official to you? As you can clearly see, your crew doesn’t enjoy dealing with bags just as much as you don’t. If we had it our way, there would be enough overhead space for everyone’s bags, umbrellas, coats, gifts, sombreros, pets, golf clubs, kayaks, kitchen sinks and whatever else you passengers feel like bringing onboard. But alas, we don’t. So to make things go a little more smoothly, you can try boarding like crew members do when we are using the travel benefits our friends are always asking us to share.

Here is what to do…

  1. Pre-boarding prep: As soon as you line up to board (when your section is called of course) remove the stuff you need from your carry-on, and hold it in your hand.
  2. When you get to your row, toss said stuff in the seat, and in the same motion, toss the bag into overhead bin wheels first, and quickly step into your row. Whew…now you’re out of the aisle.
  3. If you have two carry-ons (GASP!) Place the smaller of the two under the seat in front of you. Don’t be a bin-hog. Next time, if you can, just bring one.
  4. Sit down, close eyes, wait for the movie and vodka cart...I mean... beverage cart.

That’s how I do it…when I am off-duty of course!


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