Let’s have a passenger etitquete discussion. First, is it proper to place hand baggage in an overhead storage bin that is not directly above your seat? Second, is it ever proper for a passenger to move someone else’s luggage from an overheard bin space above their own seat?
In an era of checked bag fees, the issue arises often. Passengers board their flight and often find that overhead bin space is filling up or appears full already. Do you keep moving back or take the first space you can find? As long as it is not in a different cabin, I will always take the first space I can find rather than having to put my bag behind my seat. You can usually see what is still available as you board: I won’t put my bag in a forward bin unless I can see that there is no space in my row or a closer row, but in FRONT of my seat. When you put your bag in an overhead locker behind your seat, you either have to swim upstream or wait until passengers disembark before retrieving your bag.
That’s fairly straightforward, isn’t it? I don’t see controversy there, with the caveat once again that first class overhead bin space is for first class passengers and should not be taken if you are seated in economy class and the bin space looks full.
Some passengers, however, have a different expectation. I’ve witnessed multiple incidents where a passengers will become irate if overhead bin space is not available directly above their seat. On one flight, a man pulled out the bag that was directly above his seat, dropped it on the aisle floor, and placed his own bag in instead.
The owner of the bag was only sitting a couple rows behind and a verbal argument erupted. Thankfully, some coats were moved to make room for his displaced bag.
Another time, I watch a passenger yell at a flight attendant because “her” overhead bin space was gone. No amount of convincing could convince her that the space was on a first-come, first-serve basis. She also pulled out someone else’s bag, but the flight attendant was standing right there and told her she could not do it. Eventually, her bag was accommodated in a closet.
Don’t Touch Other People’s Bags!
I’m of the opinion that it is never appropriate to move someone else’s bag. Overhead bin space is claimed on a first-come, first-served basis and the idea that you have a specific claim to any bin space is absurd.
If a bag has been placed above your seat, deal with it…find other space. Do not, under any circumstance, touch what doesn’t belong to you.
I do know that sometimes passengers can be obnoxious. Sometimes, the overhead bin above their row will be wide open and they will still place their bag over yours. That’s poor manners, but again, the overhead bin space is shared – you have no claim to the space above your head.
The good news for all of us is that overhead bins are getting larger. Both Boeing and Airbus have new-generation overhead bins that can accommodate many more larger carry-on bags placed in on their side. With the proliferation of basic economy tickets plus the new overhead bins, hopefully this will not be a problem forever.
But in the meantime, don’t even think about moving someone else’s bag…
Do you agree? Have you ever moved someone else’s carry-on bag?