Space Bins

The new bins installed in Boeing's Next-Generation 737 and 737 Max planes will fit nearly 50% more luggage. (Marian Lockhart / Boeing / June 26, 2014)

While many airline seats are getting smaller, some fliers will soon get more overhead bin space.

Alaska Airlines expects to be the first airline to take delivery next year of Boeing’s Next-Generation 737 and 737 MAX planes equipped with overhead bins that can carry nearly 50% more luggage than standard bins.

The new bins, which hang a few inches lower than traditional bins, can hold up to 174 standard carry-on bags. Bins now on Alaska planes hold up to 117 bags.

“The additional storage space will allow our customers to keep their personal items with them in the cabin, which we think they will enjoy,” said Mark Eliasen, Alaska’s vice president of finance.

But bigger bins may also benefit Alaska by cutting the time it takes to load passengers and their carry-on bags. Every minute cut on boarding can save $30 per flight, according to a 2008 study in the Journal of Transport Management.

To read more about travel, tourism and the airline industry, follow me on Twitter at @hugomartin.