Money & Business

As Carry-On Space Gets Bigger, Bags Are Shrinking. Here’s Why.

By / Aug 6, 2019 (jchizhe/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Even though there’s technically more room for carry-on bags on planes these days, it’s because things were way too snug before. So, if you’re planning on a carry-on, you might want to pack light.

There’s seemingly never enough room for everyone’s bag in the storage compartment on most planes, is there?

It’s a situation that leads to pre-flight debates, strategic planning, and even some arguments in the cabin. There’s only so much room up there. But it seems like travelers, who have dealt with this frustration constantly over the years, are starting to change their tactics in an effort to limit the number of headaches they face in the air.

Recently, USA Today reported that a new trend is for travelers to put as little stuff in a bag as possible, both making it easier to carry on and less complicated to travel with. In comments to the newspaper, Travel Goods Association President Michele Pittenger noted that manufacturers are stepping up to meet the growing need for more efficient storage.

“Space is a top commodity in travel,” Pittenger said. “Luggage manufacturers have responded with efficient, condensed bags to streamline travel and eliminate or reduce baggage fees.”

For their part, many mainline airlines are introducing larger overhead bins to make it possible for more people to store luggage, according to the Los Angeles Times. However, airlines aren’t allowing passengers to carry more onto the plane—just making more room for everyone’s stuff and preventing delays by ensuring people can find a spot for their luggage.

Analysts that spoke to the Times noted that the problem was a side effect of the airlines charging passengers to check luggage and squeezing more seats onto the average plane.

“It’s a self-inflicted wound that the airlines have brought on themselves,” analyst Henry Harteveldt told the Times.

There are pros and cons all over the place. With the rise of low-cost airlines that charge even to use the overhead bins, it creates an opportunity for more effective storage that can fit a whole trip’s worth of goods under a seat, the USA Today report notes. On the other hand, Bustle says that you have to be careful about what you put in your carry-on, so you don’t run into airport security headaches.

And, of course, there’s still a pretty solid case for checking a bag if you want to avoid  lugging the thing around the airport. As CNN producer and heavy traveler Channon Hodge recently wrote, even if you’re paying more, the process of going through the baggage carousel has gotten more efficient over time.

“We who check bags accept the confines of reality. That reality includes many airlines offering checked bag pickup times that are faster than ever,” she wrote. “More efficiency behind the scenes means carriers like Delta and Alaska Air will now guarantee you get your checked bag in 20 minutes or less. That’s enough time to hit the loo and make your way to baggage claim.”

Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is the social media journalist for Associations Now, a former newspaper guy, and a man who is dangerous when armed with a good pun. More »

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