Airplane manufacturers are stepping up to solve one of the most frustrating aspects of flying: overhead bins. The overhead bins are a chief source of anxiety for many passengers, who worry whether space will be available when they reach their seat, and that they may need to return to the front of the plane to check their carry-on. While it might seem like carriers are filled with mischievous glee when they force you to check your bag at the gate, it’s actually a huge hassle for them, too. Someone needs to rush the bags down to the cargo hold, which can lead to a delayed departure. Boeing and Airbus, however, are brainstorming new designs that could be implemented to solve this issue, and demonstrated a few of them at the Aircraft Interior Expo in Hamburg, Germany, that took place last week.

While both Airbus and Boeing are advocating larger bins that will simply hold more bags, other solutions are more technologically advanced. Airbus introduced a green, yellow, and red light system that informs passengers and flight attendants how much room is left in each bin. A red light would mean that the storage is full, a green light would mean that there’s enough space for luggage, and a yellow light would mean that there’s only room for small items like coats in the bin. Sebastien Koeck, cabin product manager, said, “We have sensors in our cabin module and equipment. They are capturing data and transmitting it wirelessly to an onboard platform, which is collecting data, storing it, processing it, and pushing it to a remote display, in real time.” They plan to test the technology this year, with the goal of introducing it on airlines by 2021.

Photo: Courtesy of Airbus

Diehl Aviation, which builds cabin interiors for Boeing and Airbus, devised a concept that may not be to every traveler’s taste. It calls for bookable overhead bins that can be reserved (at a cost) ahead of time. They would include a digital screen below each bin, showing customers their assigned space. See the video below to check out the concept.


Changes to overhead bins might not be coming tomorrow, but at least plane manufacturers are acknowledging the problem and working on ways to make traveling with a carry-on a bit smoother — even if that means you may have to shell out some more dough.

H/T: Skift