During Aviation Geek Fest 2015, a small number of us AvGeeks (seven, to be exact: me, Mal, Dan, Christy, Michael, Michael #2, and Derek — who didn’t seem to make it into the video, but still was great) were invited by Boeing to preview their new Space Bin design and offer our feedback. It was previously announced that Alaska Airlines will be the launch customer for the Space Bin (first aircraft should be delivered by the end of the year), so as a frequent flier on Alaska, I was very interested to see the overhead bin of the future. (Also, this was probably the closest I will ever come to my not-so-secret dream of appearing in an airline safety demonstration video.)
The Space Bin offers a significant increase in capacity, with each bin holding six standard-sized rollaboard bags, instead of four. According to Boeing, that allows for 194 total bags in Space Bins on a 737-900ER or 737 MAX 9, compared to 132 in the current bin configuration; 174 compared to 118 on a 737-800 or 737 MAX 8; and 130 compared to 90 on a 737-700 or 737 MAX 7.
As you may be able to tell from the video, I’m only 5’2” (I am the gal in the white jacket, no hat), so I really appreciate the fact that the Space Bin lip comes down an extra few inches. That might not sound like a lot, but it does make a real difference when you’re lifting a heavy bag over your head. It’s also a lot easier to reach to the back, especially when you have items that are smaller than a full-size suitcase. Granted, it does slightly reduce the headroom below, but even my much-taller fellow test subject agreed that the difference in headroom is not noticeable when you’re seated. Even if there is a small tradeoff for a lower bin lip height, it is well worth it for me.
After trying out the Space Bin, we were given a tour of the rest of the Configuration Studio, where we got to see a variety of galley components and seats, as well as a new lavatory design. I think we all really enjoyed sitting in the sample seats and comparing the offerings from different manufacturers, but watching people sit doesn’t make for an exciting marketing video.
My overall impression of the Space Bin was that it’s a big improvement over the current design. We’ve all experienced the rush to board first and nab the limited overhead space. Anything that can make the boarding process more calm and efficient is an advancement for both passengers and flight attendants. Given that the Space Bin can be retrofitted to existing Next-Generation 737s, I hope to see them in service soon!
This story was written by Lauren Darnielle for AirlineReporter. She is a lifelong AvGeek who lives in the Seattle area and loves flying all over the world, collecting frequent flier miles.