Many flyers don’t remember that before 9/11 passengers could take two carry on bags onboard. Generally passengers had a free allowance of three bags — and those could be two carry ons and one checked bag, or one carry on and two checked bags.
This changed by government regulation. The TSA wanted fewer bags going through the checkpoint, which meant less screening work, and fewer delays given a fixed throughput at the checkpoint.
Continental Airlines actually pushed back: they had installed higher capacity overhead bins as a customer convenience. Passengers wanted to carry on bags, and they viewed this accommodation as a competitive advantage.
Of course that was before:
- Airlines charged for checked bags, and everyone wanted to carry their bags on as a result.
- Planes were so full, that overhead bins filled up even more still.
More carry ons, especially when they exceed the capacity of an aircraft, delay departures. Passengers board, look for space, and then gate check at the last minute. That’s costly to an airline and inconvenient for a customer.
On the other hand, it encourages passengers to try to board early, and to obtain early boarding privileges such as by obtaining the airline’s co-brand credit card.
Boeing has a new approach, that seems obvious, overhead bins with more storage space. Alaska Airlines is the first to get these new bins on their 737-900ERs and they’ll hold up to 174 standard carry-on bags (a 48% increase over the current 117 bag capacity).
It makes sense for Alaska to be a driver here, they continue to have the most generous carry on policy in the industry allowing 24-inch rollaboards in the aircraft.
Customers should choose an airline that lets them carry their bag, avoiding fees and getting them out of the airport more quickly, and reducing the risk of having to gate check.
(Video HT to World Airline News)