No free overhead bins!


Dec 28, 2009
SanFranFreako, KommieFornia
Overhead Bin Ban

The new policy state that flyers who purchase a Basic Economy ticket can only bring one small item on board—9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches—that must be able to fit under the seat, not overhead, according to United. Any bag larger than that can be checked for a fee.

However, flyers who purchase a more expensive option—like a regular economy ticket—will be able to still use the overhead bins at no additional cost.
And, exactly how do they stop the Basic Economy passengers from putting stuff in the overhead bin? Assuming United's a/c configuration is same/similar, there are 4 flight attendants on a 160 seat 738 or a 181 seat A321. And, during the Winter, even if they put their one item under the seat in front of them, how do the f/as stop them from putting overcoats, etc. in the bins. Even with them spaced evenly around the cabin, there's still only 4 f/as vs. 160-181 or so passengers. And, at AA we can not "make" a passenger take small stuff out of the overhead bin, we can only request.

Are they going to board Basic Economy first and stop anyone with a rollerboard or more than 1 carry-on item? (And, that assumes no Basic Economy passenger gets to the gate after the boarding of the BE's. I pity the poor gate agents.
It's somewhat easy to enforce, Jim. Basic economy pax are going to be the very last to board, and my experience flying on UA is that the bins are usually full by the time boarding group 4 is starting to come onboard.

If basic economy is either group 5 or group 6, there probably won't be room for them to stash anything bigger than a small coat or a purse.
From a flight attendant's standpoint that could be even worse. I can hear it now..."We had to board last and the flight attendants refused to find a place for our stuff. They just kept saying the bins are full." And, I can assure you that BEs will also be transporting priceless items "that can NOT be checked." The passenger, not believing the f/as, will go reopen the bins and when there is no space, leave them open and open the next one.

Short of having a sizer for the underseat space at the gate, the gate agents will have the worst of it because they will have to enforce the bag policy. I am constantly surprised at passengers' ideas of what will fit under the seat. Some women have "purses" that I bet you could set up light housekeeping with the contents. Based on my experience at AA, I don't see how United can possibly get flights out on time--at least at first until passengers figure out that "I've NEVER been told I can't put my "purse" in the overhead bin" is not going to work anymore.

And, don't think that a lot of informative pre-enforcement announcements and ads on TV will do any good. If you ask a passenger directly to their face to do something they don't want to do, they go deaf on you.
Precisely. When everyone on the airplane is getting shorted on service and amenities--such as with Spirit--it's not such an issue. But when they can look 5 rows up and see someone getting more than they, they also seem to develop amnesia regarding the much lower price they paid for their ticket. All they know is, "that person is getting a free drink, and I'm not." I've already encountered a passenger in row 7 on a 738 (first row in coach) who had paid the Economy Plus (or whatever we call it) price for the extra leg room and insisted that he was told that price also included "free" drinks as in First Class.

And, don't think my Spirit comment is a criticism of Spirit. They make it quite clear that you get what you pay for on their airline, and it seems to be working for them.
Last edited:
  • Like
Reactions: xUT
There's more info out on this now, and it looks like the gate agents get to enforce this.

If you're in boarding group 99 (actually, it's Group 5), you don't get past the gate reader with a bag that won't fit under the seat.

Assuming that approach works, the FA's won't be left having to enforce the rules any more than they already deal with other carry-on bag issues.
That's fine for United who are starting this, but the agents at AA are already supposed to be stopping passengers with more than 1 rollaboard and 1 small personal item that fits under the seat in front and making them check anything else. And, that rule ostensibly applies to ALL passengers, not just cheapo ticket holders. It ain't happening.

Just this morning at JAX, a F/C passenger boarded with 3 bags--two of them so large that they almost wouldn't fit in the S80 OH bin. I was #4 and the #1 didn't want to make an issue because we were not full and there was plenty of overhead bin space. But, what happens on the next flight that is oversold? That passenger has already been told (so to speak) that the rules do not apply to him.

Then Flight Service Management is wondering why we are getting fines from the FAA regarding the bag policy, and what are the flight attendants doing about it? I just point out that the passenger has already gone past as many people as the ticket agent, the gate agent, and the person operating the EGR, and all of them have given the passenger a bye. Why should the flight attendants have to be the bad guy?

For those of you who don't know, the FAA does not have a bag policy per se. However, there is an FAR that says that each airline must establish a bag policy, and then enforce it. In theory any and all employees who come into contact with that passenger are supposed to be responsible for enforcing the bag policy. Yeah well, after 5,000 years of fighting among those Semitic first cousins, there's supposed to be peace in the Middle East.
Last edited: