As more passengers carry bags on board to avoid rampant checked-baggage fees, airlines are increasing the size of the overhead luggage bins to help ease congestion.

Several US airlines have been steadily upgrading their older planes with larger overhead luggage bins, making the space available for carry-on bags similar to that of newer planes.

According to the Associated Press, United Airlines, American Airlines and Delta Air Lines have all started replacing the old, straighter bin doors with ones that curve further outwards, thus creating additional space.

The airlines will be putting the new bin doors into new planes too. American’s 737s will hold 48 more bags than the old ones did. United said their A320s (mainly used for domestic US flights) will hold 42 extra bags, and Delta’s will hold 26 more. Even the massive Boeing 787 Dreamliner, which had a test flight out of Boston’s Logan Airport earlier this week, will be able to carry 50% more overhead luggage than similar sized planes like the 767s. 

While more baggage space might make for a better flying experience, it is not one that will necessarily entice people to fly with a certain airline. George Hobica, the founder of, said “price is always the major factor”, on what makes people choose one airline over another. “That plus frequent flyer programmes.”

The extra space does not mean, however, that airlines are changing their policy and allowing larger carry-on bags. “Leisure travellers think anything with wheels can be carried on because the luggage industry confuses them, but I am not aware of any airline changing their carry-on sizes,” said Joe Brancatelli, editor of the business traveller site, Joe Sent Me. “Business travellers will always have luggage that fits even the smaller bins because they never want to be forced to check their bags.”

But with checked-baggage fees now routine on domestic US flights and some international ones, more passengers are carrying luggage on board. Will the larger luggage bins ease the congestion on the plane? Or will more people carry on more or larger bags?

“I think it’s like highways,” Hobica said. “They build bigger highways to ease congestion, but all people see is wide open roads and drive more.”