United Airlines’ Overhead Bin Math: I Don’t Get It?!

United Airlines’ Overhead Bin Math: I Don’t Get It?!

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I don’t envy the stressful jobs that gate agents have. They have to get flights out on-time, so they often try to incentivize people to gate check bags, to avoid any delays. However, I heard an announcement yesterday evening that left me puzzled…

United gate agents claims 737-900 can hold 65 bags

Yesterday I took a United Airlines flight out of Houston, and just prior to boarding, the gate agent announced that the plane only had room for 65 carry-on bags. Therefore she encouraged passengers to gate check their bags, and anyone who was willing to do so would get Group 2 boarding.

Okay, I figured she was just totally making up that number and didn’t mean it, but then as I boarded the aircraft, I saw she had a smartphone where she was keeping count through an app of how many remaining carry-on bags would be allowed.

As each person boarded with a carry-on bag, she’d push a button so that the number would be reduced by one. I boarded toward the end of the first class boarding process, and the number was down to 40, and decreasing.

Can someone help me make the math work here?

A Boeing 737-900 being able to accommodate just 65 full size carry-on bags makes no sense to me. Admittedly this plane had an ancient interior, which made me appreciate American’s Boeing 737s, by comparison, which is saying a lot. So yeah, the plane didn’t have the modern overhead bins that allow you to store bags on their side, which you nowadays find on many aircraft.

The exterior wasn’t the only part of this jet that was retro

Even so, I can’t make sense of the math here:

  • When Alaska reconfigured its 737-900s to add larger overhead bins, the airline claimed that this would increase capacity by 48%, from 117 bags to 174 bags, so about 117 bags sounds right to me
  • A United Boeing 737-900 has 32 rows, which have an absolute minimum of 30″ of pitch; United claims that carry-on bags can be up to 14″ wide, so you should be able to store at least four bags per row (two on each side), give or take
  • Is there some other factor I’m not considering here? Yes, there are crew bags, but even those shouldn’t change things that much, since the above math is super conservative (the average of the 32 rows has way more than 30″ of pitch, when you consider first class and Economy Plus)
United Airlines Boeing 737-900 overhead bins

So does anyone have a guess here? Is it normal for gate agents at United to name an arbitrarily low limit on carry-on bags? And if so, does anyone know if these numbers are provided by the company, or if gate agents are able to make up their own numbers?

For what it’s worth, this flight had roughly 40 empty seats, and on top of that, United basic economy fares don’t come with a carry-on bag. At the end of boarding, I still saw a significant amount of open overhead bin space in the cabin.

Bottom line

While I’m used to hearing gate agents announce all kinds of things to encourage people to gate check their carry-ons, a United gate agent suggesting a 737-900 could only hold 65 carry-on bags is a new one for me. It didn’t seem she was just saying that number over the PA as an idle threat, but rather she actually had a tracker that seemed to correspond to that.

Anyone have any guesses here? Are these specific number limits normal at United?

Conversations (74)
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  1. Susan Stevenson Guest

    How strict are they if your carry on bag is 7inches bigger??

  2. Cardinal Points Farm Guest

    Perhaps some overhead space has to hold emergency equipment (medical, fire, etc), and/or crew's personal belongings?

  3. Carol Voogd Guest

    Some cargo needs to be on the passenger level. Perhaps this cargo is more important than people? Southwest knows how to handle it. Why doesn't anyone else?

  4. CT Guest

    A significant volume of overhead bin space is taken up by safety equipment, including oxygen generators, baby life vests, the demo life vests the FAs use during the safety briefing, etc. But I agree that 65 bags seems low (although many pax also put their small personal items in the bins). I suspect this was a gate agent ploy to hasten boarding due to time constraints.

  5. jockosmoghater Guest

    Here's a case of what came first? There was a day when no luggage was allowed in the cabin. Every bag was checked and stowed. The overheads were originally intended for smaller items that might be needed during the flight. Then the luggage companies started making bags that would fit up there even though the space was never intended for that purpose. It's now become whatever a passenger can get away with. The airlines let...

    Here's a case of what came first? There was a day when no luggage was allowed in the cabin. Every bag was checked and stowed. The overheads were originally intended for smaller items that might be needed during the flight. Then the luggage companies started making bags that would fit up there even though the space was never intended for that purpose. It's now become whatever a passenger can get away with. The airlines let that cat out of the bag long ago. IMHO, they should go back to checking it all. There's nothing worse than having to watch 100 passengers in front of you struggling with their bags. Especially when some idiot finds an open spot ten rows behind his/her seat.

  6. Shell Guest

    When you travel internationally, the weight limit for carry-on bags is 7kg. Most Americans pack double that weight. If you look at an empty bin there is a weight limit posted on the back wall.

  7. Tom Guest

    When I worked for USAirways, we actually went down on the planes with a few roller boards and filled a single bin. We counted the remaining bins and came up with how many roller boards the plane can accommodate. Our A319’s could hold 48, 320’s 58, etc. we only counted roller boards. This worked out extremely well. Very few ever came off the aircraft and the bins we indeed full.

  8. Justin Guest

    Maybe some of these bins are unusable because of damaged latches. These older bins tend to be in rough shape compared to the BSI bins and the Space Bins that United plans to install on older planes.

  9. Peter Guest

    Now I know why I don't fly United any more (I'm a 2MM flyer with UA).

    It's not the United I knew when earning my lifetime Platinum status, just look at the exterior of the 737 in the photo. Never did like CO...

  10. Anonymous Guest

    I am a gate Agent and this is not just an IAH thing, there are a number of factors. In a perfect world it should hold more than 65 bags but that is if there are no smaller items in the bins (backpacks, purses, jackets………). Sometimes more fit and sometimes less (I’ve worked a 757 that should have held 75 bags but was told I had to start checking when I was at 45 as...

    I am a gate Agent and this is not just an IAH thing, there are a number of factors. In a perfect world it should hold more than 65 bags but that is if there are no smaller items in the bins (backpacks, purses, jackets………). Sometimes more fit and sometimes less (I’ve worked a 757 that should have held 75 bags but was told I had to start checking when I was at 45 as the FA‘s onboard weren’t having anyone take smaller items from the bins). The ultimate goal is to make sure the flight is on time for departure and running up and down a jet bridge tagging bags can be very time consuming.

    1. GWeigrauch Guest

      If airlines were more careful so that your luggage did not go missing then people would not insist on bringing so much on board.

  11. RayFlyer Guest

    Could it be a weight restriction? On a recent AA flight, attendant started pulling bags out of the overhead and made pax check them. We were told there is a FAA weight restriction for the overhead bins.

  12. RN Guest

    Accounting for people who put all their stuff up? (Briefcase, backpack, laptop bag, hat, etc). Oversized items? (Crutches, guitar, etc)

    I think the number is in the computer as I have seen GA lookup the very low number

  13. Bob Guest

    United always stops allowing bags long before the bins are full. It’s stupid

  14. Dave Guest

    Perhaps it was a continuing flight, with bags already overhead.

    1. tony xu Guest

      No such thing on United

  15. kenny tarmack Guest

    reduce the cost to check bags......prob solved.

    1. neogucky Member

      I usually have bag allowance but still take it in the cabin. Apart from the added waiting time I‘m pretty sure I would a new bag every year if I checked it..

    2. Flappy Guest

      It’s $25 to check a bag. In Europe it varies by flight anything up to $100 to check a bag! $25 is cheap!!

  16. Jack Attack Guest

    I had the same experience this weekend: SFO > DEN on 737-900, arrived at gate as Group 2 was boarding and everybody was already being required to gate check their bags by the gate agent. When we got onboard, overhead bins were wide open with tons of space still left. Bizarre math/policy.

  17. W Gold

    I flew United this past summer from EWR to SFO on a 777-300ER. I was in Business Class, and I was in the first boarding group. I started chatting with the gate agent, and she was counting the number of carry-on bags. I asked her why she is doing this, since I presumed the 777 has huge overhead bins. She told me the number of carry-on rollerboards the plane can accommodate, and while I cannot...

    I flew United this past summer from EWR to SFO on a 777-300ER. I was in Business Class, and I was in the first boarding group. I started chatting with the gate agent, and she was counting the number of carry-on bags. I asked her why she is doing this, since I presumed the 777 has huge overhead bins. She told me the number of carry-on rollerboards the plane can accommodate, and while I cannot remember the exact number, it seemed to be extremely low for the number of passengers (between 117-160 rollerboard bags). I think United intentionally gives smaller numbers to their gate agents.

    Then again, the 777-300ER might now have large overhead bins with the space saving techniques newer 737 and A320 interiors have, because there generally isn't a need for it. United uses their 77W mostly on long haul international flights where all passengers have a checked baggage allowance. So I assume there are more carry-on rollerboards on a domestic 77W flight than their international flights. And the only 77W domestic flight I know of on UA is between EWR-SFO.

    1. rrapynot Guest

      No checked luggage when flying long haul and booked into United basic economy.

    2. AAflyer Guest

      It actually has fewer than you'd think because the center bins are a lot smaller and cannot accommodate a rollerboard wheels-in. Only the side bins are full-size. Not a problem internationally because people check more bags, but it's super frustrating on the domestic runs. Huge plane yet seems to accommodate less than a narrowbody.

  18. Steven E Guest

    A problem around the world - carry on luggage is the number one frustration, let’s bring it ALL on , check it, but no, people aren’t willing to wait at a baggage carousel

    1. Baliken Guest

      Not much of a problem in South East and East Asia. People carry on much less luggage. It is funny because Americans and Canadians can be easily identified by the excessive amount they carry on. Of course, in my experience baggage retrieval in many Asian airports is quick, and luggage tends to be handled with more care.

    2. tony xu Guest

      People are not willing to spend extra time waiting when an alternate to not spend extra time exists. Correct. This is rational behavior. If you want to change it, give an incentive to check bags. Do not just stand on your high horse spewing your supposed virtues you stupid asswipe.

    3. Ben Guest

      Are you just incredibly rude or did someone hit a sore point?

    4. laurie l goldman Guest

      Some are lost, rerouted, items stolen

  19. Tony Guest

    This is incredibly common on flights out of IAH, especially with extended over-water operations. In fact, the same thing just happened to me on a flight to Bonaire. The gate agent physically counted bags in the line and started tagging anything past the "maximum". Toward the end of boarding there were still open bins so they began allowing carry-ons again. It's a strange process and I've only seen it out of IAH on Caribbean and...

    This is incredibly common on flights out of IAH, especially with extended over-water operations. In fact, the same thing just happened to me on a flight to Bonaire. The gate agent physically counted bags in the line and started tagging anything past the "maximum". Toward the end of boarding there were still open bins so they began allowing carry-ons again. It's a strange process and I've only seen it out of IAH on Caribbean and Central America flights. It also makes boarding excruciatingly long as people start pulling out lithium batteries and any other items they want with them.

  20. DFW Flyer Guest

    I imagine they had a heavy cargo load of some kind. So they could add more checked bags in whatever hold didn't have the heavy cargo. But, for W&B, you probably assume that the weight of carry-ons is more or less evenly distributed throughout the plane, which you don't have to do when they're checked. That would be my best guess for this particular situation.

  21. jetset Diamond

    I haven't experienced this though I pre-board on United so maybe they make the announcement later or I wasn't at the gate.

    65 is low though I would note, on United's old 737's their bins are incredibly small - more so than other carriers - because they include a plastic block filling in empty space at the bottom 'lip' of the bin lid which means some bags have to be stored length-wise rather than width-wise....

    I haven't experienced this though I pre-board on United so maybe they make the announcement later or I wasn't at the gate.

    65 is low though I would note, on United's old 737's their bins are incredibly small - more so than other carriers - because they include a plastic block filling in empty space at the bottom 'lip' of the bin lid which means some bags have to be stored length-wise rather than width-wise. I don't understand why they don't just remove these given modern planes are moving to extremely large bins and filling in this otherwise open space in the lid means there is less tolerance for slightly larger bags.

  22. Lara S. Guest

    Here is another question- airlines KNOW that FA have bags to store- why don't they provide the space for them to store it, outside the overhead bins? Ditto any safety/demo equipment that does not HAVE to be in overhead bins? Because airlines aren't about customer service would be my guess (even beyond being a for-profit they literally don't care about customers unless customers vote with their wallets and stop flying them).

    I've seen first...

    Here is another question- airlines KNOW that FA have bags to store- why don't they provide the space for them to store it, outside the overhead bins? Ditto any safety/demo equipment that does not HAVE to be in overhead bins? Because airlines aren't about customer service would be my guess (even beyond being a for-profit they literally don't care about customers unless customers vote with their wallets and stop flying them).

    I've seen first class passengers who were connecting from another flight so couldn't pre-board or board with Group 1 run on the plane mid-boarding and search for overhead space only to have two bins in first full of FA crap and/or demo/safety gear and end up sticking their stuff three rows back in economy and then having to play "can you please pass my bag up this way" when we land so they can get off the dang plane. It is ridiculous. Airlines want their cake and to eat it too re charging a ton for checked bags and then also not providing overhead bin space when people reasonably don't want to pay the extra fees.

    I know nothing will change- just wanted to vent!

  23. chris Guest

    UA claimed the same BS number on my 737-800 flight last week. If 65 bags was the real number I would not have had space for my bag when I boarded in group 3, just by a quick count of the baggage already in line.

  24. Santa Barbarian Guest

    Was it Overwater Configured?

    Because it's not just crew bags-- you also have the Extended Delay kit, extra emergency supplies plus rafts.

  25. polarbear Gold

    Probably somewhat arbitrarily set factoring in safety equipment (as mentioned) random things people put in the bins (and bulkhead rows must put everything there).
    Also, probably does not account for first class - so 65 is their guesstimate for Y passengers.
    Still a bit low,.

  26. Matthew Guest

    United has gone to the Titanic school of math. Lifeboats vs Overhead Bins

    1. D Downing Guest

      Rafts are in the ceiling

  27. jb17 Member

    I fly United once or twice a month and I swear I see the opposite more where they didn’t start gate checking soon enough and it hold us up for departure.

    Also part of the calculation could be people taking slightly larger and larger carryons - last week I was on a flight and could barely get the bin to close with someone’s rollerboard facing the right way. Others were in there sideways because bags...

    I fly United once or twice a month and I swear I see the opposite more where they didn’t start gate checking soon enough and it hold us up for departure.

    Also part of the calculation could be people taking slightly larger and larger carryons - last week I was on a flight and could barely get the bin to close with someone’s rollerboard facing the right way. Others were in there sideways because bags are getting bigger and this bin was tiny.

    As an aside, anyone else amused by United’s commercials saying TVs ‘coming’ to every seat? I’m yet to fly on a narrow body with their new interior / IFE. Commercial seems a bit premature lol.

    1. UncleRonnie Gold

      Big 3 and other nation's Full Service Carriers are pretty lax about checking bag sizes. LCC are much hotter on measuring and charging for large cabin bags.

    2. NedsKid Diamond

      American has been getting more and more militant with checking bags against the sizer at the gate during boarding. I've seen it at JFK and frequently at MIA lately. I've seen a couple Concierge Key meltdowns on being told their purse is an extra bag or their roller bag in its expanded state is too big. "But I always travel like this, you can see how much I fly."

      When I worked for a...

      American has been getting more and more militant with checking bags against the sizer at the gate during boarding. I've seen it at JFK and frequently at MIA lately. I've seen a couple Concierge Key meltdowns on being told their purse is an extra bag or their roller bag in its expanded state is too big. "But I always travel like this, you can see how much I fly."

      When I worked for a LCC, I always loved the "But they didn't charge me coming here!"
      "You're right sir/maam, I see that. Thank you for advising me. I'll go ahead and charge you now for both directions."

  28. uldguy Diamond

    It’s not just UA pulling this stunt. AA did the same thing this past Monday on a DCA-IND flight. The agent claimed that the E175 could only hold 26 rollaboards. Such petty nonsense.

    1. HLC60 Guest

      26 is probably realistic. On the E175 there are only 16-18 rows in economy and rollaboards only fit on one side.

    2. TidyTurnaround Guest

      19 rows on UAL and DL E175. Recently was told the rollerboard limit on a DL E175 was 20 bags. When I pointed out all the empty bins and asked to not gate check so I could see my kids before bed, FA told me in a raised voice, “I can find you a different flight.” It was a threat. When I arrived at destination, I asked the gate agent about this after departing the...

      19 rows on UAL and DL E175. Recently was told the rollerboard limit on a DL E175 was 20 bags. When I pointed out all the empty bins and asked to not gate check so I could see my kids before bed, FA told me in a raised voice, “I can find you a different flight.” It was a threat. When I arrived at destination, I asked the gate agent about this after departing the flight. She said this is FA discretion. FA’s have money on the line for on-time departures. Usually the limit is 25-30 rollerboards and 20 was “quite low.” I counted 35 rollerboards come off that E175 notwithstanding the empty bins. Yes, rollerboards were fit on the side with smaller overhead. So, this is a race to the bottom to promote on-time departure and you lose-lose when you wait 30 min for baggage to arrive at the carousel. I may convert to a duffel bag just to avoid this shady b.s.

    3. ericm2031 Guest

      They fit on both sides, just in 1st class they don’t.

  29. John A. D. Needham Guest

    We have forgotten WHY this problem arose. The airlines started charging large fees for checked baggage, that is what caused it all. Now passengers who in "normal" circumstances would check a bag, take everything as a carry on.

  30. lefty Guest

    There's an official UA policy on the preset number of carryon bags allowed in cabin for each aircraft type. GA didn't just arbitrarily set this number. This has been around since last year.

    Once the count has get to zero, NO ONE is allowed carryon on board unless you are in First Class. You can't "take a look" at the cabin even if you are 1K.

    I do agree the count is wrong most...

    There's an official UA policy on the preset number of carryon bags allowed in cabin for each aircraft type. GA didn't just arbitrarily set this number. This has been around since last year.

    Once the count has get to zero, NO ONE is allowed carryon on board unless you are in First Class. You can't "take a look" at the cabin even if you are 1K.

    I do agree the count is wrong most of the times because there is always some space left if I board late and is forced to gate check the bag but that's on corporate and not GA.

  31. Margaret Guest

    I was recently on a flight from Denver to Houston and the aircraft was a 777. They made an announcement halfway through group two that no more rollerboard bags could go on and must be checked. When I got on in group 3, there were still tons of open overhead bin space and I noticed lots of smaller personal items and coats in the overhead space. This should be reserved for larger items. Everyone else...

    I was recently on a flight from Denver to Houston and the aircraft was a 777. They made an announcement halfway through group two that no more rollerboard bags could go on and must be checked. When I got on in group 3, there were still tons of open overhead bin space and I noticed lots of smaller personal items and coats in the overhead space. This should be reserved for larger items. Everyone else who came on put their backpacks and tote bags in the overhead bins and some bins were closed with open space! They definitely need to re evaluate their system.

  32. Guest Guest

    Not all Boeings, 737s, or even -900s are created equal. Many individual weights including pax, bags, cargo, fuel etc., dictate weight and balance requirements. Specific aircraft (even within the -900 family) and certain flights are more weight sensitive than others. The bag limit is likely a weight limit for distribution. If the airplane has specialized cargo that has to be placed in a certain location of the aircraft then that can dictate or restrict where...

    Not all Boeings, 737s, or even -900s are created equal. Many individual weights including pax, bags, cargo, fuel etc., dictate weight and balance requirements. Specific aircraft (even within the -900 family) and certain flights are more weight sensitive than others. The bag limit is likely a weight limit for distribution. If the airplane has specialized cargo that has to be placed in a certain location of the aircraft then that can dictate or restrict where other items go to balance the plane. A carry on bag and a checked bag to do not apply as the same weight…even if it was the exact carry on bag that has now become a checked bag (call the FAA to get that explanation). The gate agent is simply following the limit that load planning has issued for the flight until ‘exact’ final numbers are issued for all the things mentioned above.

  33. George Romey Guest

    She pulled it out of her you know what to get people to gate check bags.

  34. Am Guest

    You are considering that passengers only put their carry on luggage into the overhead which is never the case. They are putting their carry on bag, their backpack, their big puffy jacket, their shopping bag, etc into the overhead. Not to mention sneaking extra items above the “1 carry on bag and 1 personal item.”
    Additionally, in the photo you are showing the older smaller bins where the doors open up. In this configuration...

    You are considering that passengers only put their carry on luggage into the overhead which is never the case. They are putting their carry on bag, their backpack, their big puffy jacket, their shopping bag, etc into the overhead. Not to mention sneaking extra items above the “1 carry on bag and 1 personal item.”
    Additionally, in the photo you are showing the older smaller bins where the doors open up. In this configuration bags must lay flat instead of on their sides, there is usually a full bin where safety equipment is stored, a few smaller bins for safety demo equipment is stored, crew bags, etc so it all adds up fast.

  35. derek Guest

    65 is simply wrong. Maybe the wrong plane was used in the app?

    Think 65. There are 2 sides in the aisle so 65/2=32.5. So that works out to be 1 bag per row. It's not that little.

    1. Ken Guest

      More importantly, are you now allowed to fly United? I thought there was something about being banned.

  36. ptahcha Guest

    @CHRIS - not sure how you arrived at the math. There are 5 pre-boarding groups, and First/Business boards with group 1. That's #6.

  37. snic Diamond

    I think claiming that there is room for exactly 65 bags is just a variant of a strategy I've seen over and over again: "If you're in boarding group X or higher, you won't have space for your bag in the overhead bins, so you are *required* to check it." Not asked, required. Another variant is the announcement, while standing in line to board, that "overhead bin space is now full, so everyone from this...

    I think claiming that there is room for exactly 65 bags is just a variant of a strategy I've seen over and over again: "If you're in boarding group X or higher, you won't have space for your bag in the overhead bins, so you are *required* to check it." Not asked, required. Another variant is the announcement, while standing in line to board, that "overhead bin space is now full, so everyone from this point on is required to check their bag."

    Usually when something like this happens, I've noted that often there is plenty of overhead bin space left even if I'm one of the gate-check victims. Gate agents do it because they need to get the plane out on time, and passengers discovering that there's no overhead bin space left and having to go check their bag takes up far more time then having them check their bag before they board. So the agents purposefully underestimate the amount of overhead bin space, perhaps because they know a few people will flaunt the instructions. The exact details of how the agents represent this underestimation to passengers vary, and I suspect making up nonsense like "only 65 bags will fit" is just their most recent creative Ochsenscheisse.

  38. CHRIS Guest

    Also on UA: Paid F is like the eigth group to board......between the crew bags and the first seven groups, guess how many overheads in F are available?

    1. NedsKid Diamond

      I've boarded UA First a few times with Group 1, after all the 1K/GS/etc get on, and found myself to be the only one left to board and all overheads full. Leaving IAD a few months ago on a 737-900, I was about the 5th person to board with Group 1, and the other 19 passengers were already seated in First. The crew suggested I gate check my bag. I told them to try again....

      I've boarded UA First a few times with Group 1, after all the 1K/GS/etc get on, and found myself to be the only one left to board and all overheads full. Leaving IAD a few months ago on a 737-900, I was about the 5th person to board with Group 1, and the other 19 passengers were already seated in First. The crew suggested I gate check my bag. I told them to try again.

      On UA the other night, on the already very space limited A319 (emergency equipment takes up all the space over 1A/1B), the last person to board was in the bulkhead and had zero space and had to put their smaller bag somewhere back in coach. They did try to rearrange but one passenger snapped at them to not touch her stuff. Saw in flight she had taken up an entire overhead bin... roller bag, backpack, and her hard hat. I wanted to ask her why she didn't put her backpack under the seat in front of her since she got up at least 10 times during 2 hours to access it.

      Observed DL at PHX two weeks ago where the red coat was asking people to come up and voluntarily check their bag, "otherwise it will be involuntarily checked instead of voluntary." Not sure what the difference is there... if it's involuntary do they hit it with a bag tug first or something before loading?

    2. AD Diamond

      United’s boarding process is maddening. I have silver status with UA and when I fly with them in paid F I have the same experience. Half the place is onboard before they call group 1. DL and AA seem to have found a better middle ground with top tier elites either boarding with or right after first.

      UA’s policy even managed to make it into an snl skit.

  39. cbchicago Guest

    Did you get your items in the overhead bins? Don't stuggle. My guess that they were trying to create a sense of urgency to get people to gate check their bags.

  40. Mike Guest

    I could be wrong, but I think this 65 number is to count how many bags have already boarded so the gate agent can start checking bags for people that are not yet on the jetway. Add in all of those jetway bags that are past the gate agent checking, it gets closer to full.

  41. Mofly Guest

    I was on recent United flight that was similar and only half of us in first had space for our bags. There were a substantial amount of the crews bags and general equipment in the overhead before passengers even boarded the plane.

  42. Robert Member

    Last time I flew UA they were gaslighting people into gate checking their bags, telling them the bins were full.

    I just ripped off the tag they gave me, got on the plane and the whole back of the plane (777) had empty bins. Saw the FAs closing empty bins too .

  43. Alonzo Diamond

    Carry on bags are getting larger, just like people. Add in people throwing their coats, purses and equipment into overhead storage and 65 seems correct.

    1. UncleRonnie Gold

      My favourite FAs are the ones who efficiently go down the rows and empty out coats, hats and small bags back into the laps of their owners, so that wheelie cases can go into the overheads. The look on the faces of the coat owners is priceless.

    2. snic Diamond

      So let me get this straight. People pay for the privilege of early boarding. Literally the *only* thing that gets them is overhead bin space. How do you think THEY feel when their coats and smaller bags end up in their laps? Or the gate agent tells them to check their bag anyway, even though there turns out to be plenty of bin space? If you guessed "duped", you'd be right.

    3. UncleRonnie Gold

      Nope. Early boarding gets you "a chance to put your LARGE bags into the overhead locker before someone else..." It doesn't mean you are guaranteed you can also put your coat, shopping and purse up there too. If there's no room overhead for small items, those should still go under the seat in front of you. Same rules around overhead space (in coach anyway) for everyone.

    4. Kyle Guest

      Yeah no. That's not what early boarding is for. Everyone gets one item up top: A large bag. If there's room after the door closes, go ahead and stuff other things up there. If that's not value enough, don't pay for early boarding.

    5. Donato Guest

      No, Carry on bags that make it onboard are likely not getting larger. I am astounded by the carry on/roll on bags that are larger than the limits yet being sold. I can assure you that I would be stopped in one second if I used an oversized bag.

    6. InternationalTraveler Gold

      I do check my bags. However I will use the overhead space for my backpack. It’s the same space for everyone, it does not matter if it is a suitcase, backpack, coat or hat. If you don’t have a carry on, these items will not take more space than one carry on suitcase.

    7. AD Diamond

      One of my more priceless travel moment was when I boarded with two backpacks. One went under my seat and the other in an overhead bin. FA told me that I had to take it out of the bin. I pointed out that I had a bag under my seat and it was my large carry on. He said, well if the bins get full you’ll have to move it. I asked where I wax expected to it and pointed out that he was penalizing me for having a smaller bag. He hrumphed at me and walked away.

  44. John Guest

    If it’s anything like BA you need to account for about 50 cabin crew bags

  45. Cal Guest

    You forgot to account the overheads that are filled with emergency equipment and other interior components. These overheads are not for customer luggage, and should be factored into the equation for figuring out baggage. space. Also., passengers, backpacks, coats, and other personal items which take up overhead space leaving less room for luggage. Believe me, gate agents don’t get up in the morning and think how can I make someone’s life miserable. They really are...

    You forgot to account the overheads that are filled with emergency equipment and other interior components. These overheads are not for customer luggage, and should be factored into the equation for figuring out baggage. space. Also., passengers, backpacks, coats, and other personal items which take up overhead space leaving less room for luggage. Believe me, gate agents don’t get up in the morning and think how can I make someone’s life miserable. They really are just trying to get an airplane out on time.

    1. Ben Schlappig OMAAT

      @ Cal -- But you're not supposed to store carry-on items in the overhead bin? That's the whole point of a carry-on vs. a personal item. And yes, a couple of bins have emergency equipment, but that doesn't materially factor into this.

      I'm not suggesting gate agents are making this up to make passengers miserable, I'm just genuinely curious about the logic for this number. Why do Alaska's old 737-900s reportedly have twice as much...

      @ Cal -- But you're not supposed to store carry-on items in the overhead bin? That's the whole point of a carry-on vs. a personal item. And yes, a couple of bins have emergency equipment, but that doesn't materially factor into this.

      I'm not suggesting gate agents are making this up to make passengers miserable, I'm just genuinely curious about the logic for this number. Why do Alaska's old 737-900s reportedly have twice as much overhead bin space as United's old 737-900s?

    2. AAflyer Guest

      I'm in the camp that thinks it's fair that each person gets to put one thing in the overhead bin. If someone came with only a backpack, they should be free to put that in an overhead bin; their traveling lighter onboard should not force them to give up their legroom. Otherwise, they might as well put your backpack inside a rollerboard then in the overhead bin! If they came with a backpack AND a rollerboard then yeah the backpack goes under the seat.

  46. BC Guest

    They just literally make things up. It’s a combination of good intention to try to solve a problem, combined with poor uniformity and, often, a desperate need for power. It’s the same school of thought that allows them with a straight face to say “three people have their mobile phones not in airplane mode.”

    They just. Make. Sh*t. Up.

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HLC60 Guest

26 is probably realistic. On the E175 there are only 16-18 rows in economy and rollaboards only fit on one side.

2
Anonymous Guest

I am a gate Agent and this is not just an IAH thing, there are a number of factors. In a perfect world it should hold more than 65 bags but that is if there are no smaller items in the bins (backpacks, purses, jackets………). Sometimes more fit and sometimes less (I’ve worked a 757 that should have held 75 bags but was told I had to start checking when I was at 45 as the FA‘s onboard weren’t having anyone take smaller items from the bins). The ultimate goal is to make sure the flight is on time for departure and running up and down a jet bridge tagging bags can be very time consuming.

1
W Gold

I flew United this past summer from EWR to SFO on a 777-300ER. I was in Business Class, and I was in the first boarding group. I started chatting with the gate agent, and she was counting the number of carry-on bags. I asked her why she is doing this, since I presumed the 777 has huge overhead bins. She told me the number of carry-on rollerboards the plane can accommodate, and while I cannot remember the exact number, it seemed to be extremely low for the number of passengers (between 117-160 rollerboard bags). I think United intentionally gives smaller numbers to their gate agents. Then again, the 777-300ER might now have large overhead bins with the space saving techniques newer 737 and A320 interiors have, because there generally isn't a need for it. United uses their 77W mostly on long haul international flights where all passengers have a checked baggage allowance. So I assume there are more carry-on rollerboards on a domestic 77W flight than their international flights. And the only 77W domestic flight I know of on UA is between EWR-SFO.

1
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