American Airlines

Is there overhead bin ettiquette?

By  | 

So I’m willing to be convinced that I’m totally wrong on this, but I get aggravated by how people handle overhead space. By those boarding in zone 4 who think they can magically create space by rearranging everything in a closed bin and by those who board first and prioritize not sitting with their coats on their lap or their laptop cases at their feet over others not checking their carry-on.

So I wonder, is there an unwritten (or written) etiquette for overhead usage? And if not, can it be created?

I’ve sat in coach more times than I care to count, watching late boarders open a filled overhead bin and start taking out people’s stuff, trying to rearrange suitcases and boxes to fit their oddly shaped, 40lb duffel bag. They rudely manhandle everyone’s luggage without asking and appear put out that those who boarded earlier had bags to begin with. (I admit I’m bitter since I was clobbered by a falling bag that one agitated woman dropped on my unsuspecting head.)

As one of my friends quipped: If you don’t have elite status with an airline and they announce that they’re gate checking bags, they mean YOU.

I also get irritated by the people who assume the comfort of having their lap or leg space clear is something they purchased with their ticket. It’s extremely insensitive on full flights to cause extra bags to be checked because their coats and hand luggage are above.

This also applies to first class. On our mileage run to Orlando, our upgrade cleared but Jeanne and I wound up boarding later in the process with zone 2 due to other delays. The plane was a CRJ and the 4 other first class seats were already occupied. So was most of the overhead space, even though only one other person had a rollerboard.

When we arrived at our seats, blocking the aisle and desperately looking for ways to fit our normal size carry-ons in the space directly above our row, none of the other passengers offered to move their jackets, laptop bags, and other small carry-ons to the other side which had a smaller bin that couldn’t accommodate ours. In fact, the guy sitting across from us had chosen to put his items on our side rather than his, even though it could all fit. It was only when we started asking whose jackets were there and could we move them that anyone offered to help us find a way to fit our luggage.

I totally understand first-come-first-serve, but this was first class. There was plenty of room for everyone if they followed normal storing rules. And the flight attendants will even hang up your coat so you don’t have to crumple it in the overhead!

So does anyone know if there’s an unwritten set of guidelines about what is appropriate?

And on a similar topic, how about etiquette for that under-the-seat space in domestic First Class that’s shared by both seats? Is it appropriate to put your laptop bag there without asking your seatmate?


Did you know you can subscribe to Heels First to keep up on new posts?

You can also follow our twitter feed (and say hi!) or like our fan page on Facebook.

Heels First is the travels and tribulations of two twenty-something frequent fliers jumping into the world of travel. Join Keri and Jeanne as they tackle mileage runs, elite status, and of course–the perfect travel accessories.


Full Disclosure: I may receive affiliate credit from links in this post or on this site which will help fund my travels. Thank you for your support!

Related Posts:

  • No Related Posts

Living for the little (and big things) that make life so fun, especially mistake deals and crazy last minute weekend mileage runs across the world.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.