Hey, that’s my overhead bin space!

On a packed flight from Italy to New York, I saw an argument between two passengers that’s hard to forget.

I’d boarded and was settled in my seat when a man with his family got on the plane late.

He opened the overhead bin above his seat and proceeded to lift his carry-on bag to chest level but suddenly stopped.

His face appeared red with anger as he yelled towards the back of the plane, “Whose bag is this?”

An older woman sitting directly behind him held her hand up, confessing that it was hers. He hastily removed the suitcase, while rudely scolding the passenger for placing her carry-on in his overhead bin space. The woman stood up and sternly told him not to touch her bag and to put it back.

I knew this would not end well.

If the overhead bin space above my seat is truly meant for only my row of seats, why should I board the plane early? Why pay extra for priority boarding? Why not just wait until the plane loads and board with no worries? After all, no one is sitting in your seat and your overhead bin space is empty. If one passenger takes one extra item and places it in someone else’s bin space, it offsets all of the other passengers’ overhead bin space on the plane.

I have seen many passengers disgruntled over the lack of overhead bin space, but I have never seen anyone actually remove someone else’s luggage. My first thought was how ill-mannered this man had acted in front of his family and a plane full of passengers.

For whatever reason, he was late boarding the plane. All passengers know that finding bin space after boarding late is tough. I was amazed that this passenger assumed that he would board a full plane to find his overhead bin space empty and waiting.

Checked baggage is a major source of revenue for airline carriers. Over the past year, major airline carriers have lost checked baggage revenue due to more and more passengers choosing to carry on their luggage. The Department of Transportation reports that checked baggage revenue between the four major airlines was down $1,325,000 the first quarter of 2014 compared to 2013. Carriers are quickly and quietly starting to crack down on carry-ons to make up for lost revenue.

So, who is bringing the extra carry-on bag to avoid the checked baggage fees?

It’s the women.

When is the last time you’ve seen a man carrying one of these:

© iStock by Getty Images

Since the addition of airline baggage fees, more and more women passengers are carrying on suitcases along with an oversized tote to avoid additional fees. I have seen purses carried on planes that could carry a small child inside if folded correctly. Some women define this as “one personal item that can be stowed under your seat”. Purses, totes, and shopping bags need to have the ability to fit not just at your feet, but also under the seat. When a large bag cannot fit under the seat, the flight attendant is required to store it in an overhead bin before take-off.

Unfortunately, the man on the plane ignored the woman’s warning and placed her bag in the aisle instead of returning it to the overhead bin. He continued to yell at her until a flight attendant intervened and ordered him to return the bag back to the bin or risk being removed from the plane. The man huffed down the aisle and found bin space three rows back from his seat.

Is it ever OK to move another passenger’s bag that is in your overhead bin space?

Should the airlines offer passengers the ability to reserve an overhead bin space for a small extra fee?

And what about those men? I’m sure many of you have stories about larger items men have placed in the overhead bins.

[poll id=”74″]