There is always a hassle of finding overhead cabin baggage space. Why don't airlines, divide the space and allocate it for each seat, just like they have allocated space for cabin crew and demo stuff.

This way, each seat has their allocated cabin baggage space, so a passenger can board in peace knowing their cabin baggage space is reserved.

  • $\begingroup$ If this question is off-topic, then to which other sub/site on Stack-exchange should I re-direct this. My question was more from a cabin design point of view, as to how practical, cost efficient, time saving would it be given the entire scheme of things. The answer this question received is really great, and I'm sure there would be other great insights, had this question remained open. $\endgroup$
    – Firee
    Mar 24, 2017 at 14:41
  • $\begingroup$ Interesting, but inane question. Because passengers have wildly varying amounts of carry on (but randomly/normally distributed), there's nothing to gain by allocating space beforehand, and a whole lot of unnecessary complexity to plan and manage for it! $\endgroup$
    – Pete855217
    Mar 29, 2019 at 15:31

1 Answer 1


Passengers do usually have some allocated space - under the seat in front of them. No-one else is going to claim that...

For the overhead lockers, a quick calculation (as @mins suggests) - seat pitch averages about 30", so there is going to be approximately a 30" slot above each row for "its" locker. On a 3-4-3 widebody, this would be ten seats sharing 4x30" of locker space, equivalent to a 12" slot each. On a 3-3 narrowbody, the six seats would share 2x30" of locker space, or 10" each. Not all seats have an accessible locker above them - eg emergency equipment storage - and there is some space taken up by the opening/closing mechanisms, so in practice it would be an inch or two less than this overall.

Meanwhile, almost all airlines give a maximum smallest dimension of their cabin bags - ie narrowest width they can fit into - of 20-25cm, or 8-10". So one standard-sized bag per person approximately fills the space given, assuming they can all stack neatly on their sides.

So, in theory, yes, you could try allocating space, one ~8-10" bag slot per person, and the overall space is available. But this would almost certainly mean putting in dividers to avoid disputes (you can imagine the disputes, right? "That man's bag is taking up some of my space!").

The dividers would mean that you couldn't put anything weirdly shaped in there - say, a walking stick - and would mean there would be problems with bags that don't quite fit the limits. At the moment, they can bulge a bit and be squashed in with everything else, so the passenger in seat 11A with a slightly outsize or awkwardly shaped bag can benefit from the fact that 12C's is quite slim, and everyone is happy, but once you have rigid dividers that becomes impossible. 12C's would rattle around, while 11A's doesn't go in, and overall the space is used less efficiently.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ That's a great answer, even though the question is OT. :) $\endgroup$
    – FreeMan
    Mar 23, 2017 at 14:22
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    $\begingroup$ and as usual the problem isn't the aircraft, but passengers bringing far too much cabin luggage and gate crew not enforcing restrictions as well as they should and forcing people with 3-4 full size suitcases to check them into the hold at full overluggage fees as they should but letting them take the bags on board, leaving someone else to deal with the inevitable problem and irate passengers. $\endgroup$
    – jwenting
    Mar 23, 2017 at 17:00
  • $\begingroup$ @Andrew: Does that mean that the current system is the best and most efficient? Also personally I find keeping my luggage under the seat in front of me, very cumbersome, and it robs me of the precious leg space commercial airlines offer these days. $\endgroup$
    – Firee
    Mar 24, 2017 at 14:47
  • $\begingroup$ @Firee I wouldn't go for most efficient, but it's probably more efficient than an allocated slot approach - assuming most people want to bring large cabin bags, which they usually do, these days. If we could reliably assume everyone had something handbag-sized at most, it'd work fine - but then, we also wouldn't have the same sort of problem in the first place. $\endgroup$ Mar 25, 2017 at 12:41
  • $\begingroup$ (Also, I agree on underseat storage... but it's certainly there even if you & I prefer to use it for our legs) $\endgroup$ Mar 25, 2017 at 12:45

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