I want to help you have overhead bin space for your carry-on bag. When there is no more room for your suitcase, you either have to schlep it to the back of the plane or worse, the airline checks your luggage last minute…which means they could lose your bag.

It is so frustrating that you buy the airplane seat, pack correctly, show up on time to get to your airplane seat and then not have any room in the overhead bin for your carry-on. I have some tips and tricks for what you can do if you only travel with a carry-on like us.

One travel tip is do not book a connection time (some call it a layover) for less than an hour and a half for domestic flights and 3 hours for international flights. Besides all of the other unpredictable things that could delay your flight, waiting on your suitcase could delay you 20 minutes.

I do not know why airlines suggest that you book flights with a short connection time especially in major airports.

One very important travel tip

for connections is remember that the next flight starts boarding 20-30 minutes before take off time.


One way to help yourself is to only pack in an under the airplane seat bag. Check the size requirements for that bag, use compression packing cubes and pack a very minimal amount of travel essentials so that you do not have to worry about having room above your seat. I cannot do that, and if you need alternative tips because you will have a carry-on suitcase, let’s keep going.

As a pilot’s wife we only pack in carry-on suitcases so that we do not delay the flight if no seats are left for us. If airlines had to delay the flight to find our checked luggage, we would be in trouble.

One reason there is no more bin space is more passengers pack in carry-on suitcases.

Passengers want to do 3 things:

1 Save money by not checking a suitcase

2 Save time by not having to stand in line at the ticketing counter in the airport

or 3 To be in control of their bag at all times.

But passengers are now fighting over their bin access. Why? I think it is because we assume that bin comes with our ticket.

Passengers panic because they are connecting to another airplane to get to the final destination and do not have time to wait for all the passengers to de-board the plane so that we can retrieve our carry-on.

1 tip that my mom likes is: Southwest does not charge to check bags so lack of overhead space at Southwest is usually not an issue.

You may not have any overhead bin space because of where your seat is located in the airplane on that particular airline.

One helpful tip to know before you buy an airplane ticket is this: just b/c you have a seat near the front of the airplane does not mean you will get to board near the beginning:

A myth is that people in the back of the plane board last, and that is not necessarily true.

Airlines board in different orders now. Southwest Airlines utilizes the herd boarding process. United Airlines and American use a numbered group system. Delta Airlines uses zone titles.

The airline may seat from the back to the front of the plane or from the window to the aisle.

Travel Tip:

Know your airline’s boarding system and then buy your ticket.

Here is other information that may help:

Delta Airlines allows priority boarding like the other major airlines meaning these people get to board first. I wash shocked when I found out that 6 groups get to board before the main cabin passengers.

American allows 5 different groups to board before the main cabin passengers.

Based on the lists of priority passengers on the major airlines  if you want to guarantee you board first, you need to fly a lot or on Southwest pay for an upgrade.

With Southwest you can check-in 24 hours in advance and hopefully be one of the first ones onboard. Or you can pay to be upgraded to one of the first groups.

One reason there is no more room for your bag is carry-on bag exceptions meaning extra items that are allowed in the overhead bins.

Many airlines have to allow additional items for special needs or medical issues. For free they are (sometimes required by law) to allowed medical equipment or a diaper bag or cpap machine or even a suit coat.

Look at all of the additional travel essentials passengers are allowed on United’s flights.

One way to ensure you have overhead bin space is to pack in a small carry-on.

I cannot talk about this without an important tip-since your bag could get checked, pack essential medicine in your personal item bag.

One of the worst problems with no overhead bin space is having to check your carry-on bag last minute.


ALERT: Larger Overhead Bins are Arriving Soon

One reason there is not enough overhead bin space is because of the airplane’s size.

Many of the airplanes that airlines fly were built before the Federal Administration Association restricted the number of bags a passenger could bring into the main cabin. They called it the one-plus-one rule after 9/11.


Airbus 321neo airplanes have 40% more overhead bin space allowing 24 inches of length. So the standard 22” carry-on will easily fit standing on its side! The layman’s term is Airspace XL bins. More of these airplanes are coming into service on United Airlines as well from Airbus and Boeing.

Delta Airlines has ordered 100 of the 321neo larger overhead bin airplanes.

Just when will they come into service? Stay tuned! If you want to see each of my summer travel essentials from Amazon, it is in video format.

Grab your freebie before you fly again and have fun!

4 Things to do Before You Get in the Airport
Travel Tips by Laurie helps viewers “travel the globe without a worry in the world”
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