Flight Attendants Can't Stand This Overhead Bin Mistake

Traveling, especially when done thousands of feet up in the air, is an activity that is associated with rules. Lots of them. Some rules are unspoken, while others are strictly enforced. There are rules involved in every stage of travel, too, from pre-flight activities to your time at the airport, the entire duration of the flight, all the way up to disembarking. Even the way you stow your luggage in overhead bins has some etiquette surrounding it — implied, at least. Travelers evidently must refrain from storing personal items in said bins, so as not to hog precious real estate and deprive fellow passengers of space to stow their own luggage. 

Everyone is also expected to stow their carry-ons efficiently to maximize the overhead bins, which are already quite cramped by design. If not, there's a likelihood that the plane will take off later than it should. "As the amount of passengers in the aisle searching for space begins to grow, so does the likelihood the flight will depart late," Michael Clip, a flight attendant based at JFK in New York, informed Conde Nast Traveler

He continued, "We can't close the door for departure until everything is put away properly. If there's no space for bags, we need to wait for an agent to come down to the aircraft and start tagging bags to gate-check them. That takes time." But while passengers are expected to stow their luggage as efficiently as possible, flight attendants warn against touching other people's bags.

Never touch somebody else's luggage

If there's one thing that grinds flight attendants' gears, it's when passengers take it upon themselves to "fix" the overhead bin situation. While they understand the intention behind it, these trained professionals would rather you not do that. Not only is it disrespectful to your fellow passengers, but you may end up making a mess out of everyone's bags, too. "I'm on the smaller side, so I often have passengers offer to help me lift bags or arrange the overhead compartments," Erica L., a flight attendant for a major US airline, shared with Reader's Digest. "This is fine if you're handling your own luggage, but I really can't allow you to move around other people's stuff." 

She acknowledged that certain passengers don't think there's anything wrong with shuffling or even removing the bags entirely. Erica is not wrong, though. Travelers really do find it impolite if you touch their belongings. "I'm just curious if I'm the only one here but does anyone get annoyed/perturbed when another passenger (Non-FA) moves, rearranges, or touches your bags to make room for their bag without asking?" one user on Reddit wondered (the results were split). And thus, every time you board a plane, just make it a point to stow your bag in the bin as quickly as possible, and then leave the organization part to the flight attendants who are paid to do it. 

Don't expect flight attendants to lift your bags

Another thing flight attendants don't appreciate? You asking them to lift your luggage for you. While they're responsible for making sure that everyone has space to fit their bags, they shouldn't be expected to do the actual stowing simply because it's dangerous. "Flight attendants are trained never to lift baggage for passengers because it's a leading cause of injury," Taylor Garland, spokesperson for the Association of Flight Attendants-CWA, told AFAR Magazine. "In addition to the economic and health risks for flight attendants, this could lead to a delay or even cancellation of a flight." 

If you can't lift your own carry-on, Garland suggests simply checking it in instead. Of course, they will often make exceptions for unaccompanied minors, older passengers, or those with disabilities, but for the most part, flight attendants are not obligated to tackle such heavy lifting in the line of duty. 

"Assisting passengers with luggage can jeopardize flight attendants' careers and leave them suffering for months or even years while the passenger walks off the airplane, blissfully unaware of the consequences for the flight attendant," Deanna Castro, a longtime flight attendant, warned The Washington Post. At the end of the day, your luggage is your responsibility, so you should be responsible enough to bear its load, too.