What’s the Right Way to Stow Carry-On Luggage?

Carry-on luggage is the root of a lot of stress in travel these days. Hidden liquids and oddly shaped items can cause holdups at TSA checkpoints; you have to keep an eye on your bag at all times; and, of course, the melee during boarding is almost always caused by that sticky, tricky, age-old question: What’s the right way to stow a carry-on in the overhead bin?
The short answer: There’s no right way.
The longer answer: It depends on the shape of your luggage and the size of the bin.
It’s a lot like loading a new roll of toilet paper onto its holder, actually: Whether the paper hangs over the top or drops back behind, it’s a matter of what feels most natural, what fits. Many people have strong preferences about it, but the bottom line is, you’ll know if you’re sticking your luggage into the overhead bin the “wrong” way. You shouldn’t have to jam it in there, and the bin should close completely with your suitcase in it. Whether that’s wheels in or wheels out, it’s as simple as that.
Many flight attendants say that wheels out is the way to go, and in the past, that’s made it hard to get bags out when deplaning. Great news: Most Travelpro® Rollaboard® models actually include carry handles on the top, bottom and side for easy grabbing as you rush to leave the aircraft..
If you’re looking for a one-size-fits-all bag, 20-inch Rollaboard® models can be great. In most cases, you won’t have to fight to squeeze them in bins, and they’re suited for both domestic and international flights (bins on international flights are smaller, and most international flights only allow the 20-inch bags).
In most cases, if your bag is regulation size and still won’t fit in the bin — perhaps in the case of commuter planes — then flight attendants usually offer a complimentary gate check, so you get the best of both worlds: no worries about hoisting your bag into the bin, and no waits at baggage claim. It’s usually waiting for you, once you leave the plane.
So far, there’s no master chart online anywhere that lists the dimensions of every plane’s overhead bin, so be sure to check your airline’s carry-on size regulation (and remember that the wheels count as part of that), and prepare to act quickly to find the fit that’s “right” for your particular flight.
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