Culture

United to Charge Fee for Use of Overhead Bins

(AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

This is going to be a definite “love or hate” thing.

The coveted carry-on bag. Not checking your bag has its perks–avoid waiting around at baggage claim at the end of your flight, or worrying about losing it, and it’s cheaper.

Or, at least, it used to be.

United Airlines just announced a new ticket option called “Basic Economy,” banning the use of overhead bins for luggage.

So now you’re stuck with either paying for a checked bag, or paying for a more expensive ticket to bring it on the flight with you.

According to a release from U.S. Sen. Charles Schumer’s office, United expects the plan to raise $1 billion for the company by 2020. Other airlines are waiting to see if this policy sticks before implementing it themselves.

Schumer (D-New York) says this proposed fare increase is one of the most restrictive policies airline passengers have seen in a long time.

“The overhead bin is one of the last sacred conveniences of air travel and the fact that United Airlines – and potentially others – plan to take that convenience away unless you pay up is really troubling,” said Schumer. “Already, airlines charge extra for checked luggage, pillows, peanuts and headphones and now you’ll have nowhere to store them. United Airlines should reverse this plan and allow the free use of the overhead bin for all.”

The new “Basic Economy” ticket would only allow travelers to bring one small item on board – 9 inches x 10 inches x 17 inches – and could only store them below the seat in front of them and pay for checked bags.

I have to say I am not opposed to this. In addition to the security lines, perhaps the other biggest factor in making modern air travel so tedious is the time it takes to board because everyone is either gate-checking carry-on luggage or taking forever to stow bags they shouldn’t have brought on board in the first place. If the extra fee on the ticket encourages more people to check luggage before the flight we may see a small improvement in the overall boarding process. The security lines might speed up too if people aren’t bringing as much on the plane.