The problem: the mad rush to get on an airplane before someone steals the overhead bin nearest your seat.
The big idea: Airline storage bins assigned to specific seats.
Does anyone really want to be the first one on the plane? What, you just can’t wait to cram yourself into an aluminum tube full of grumpy people, no leg room, highly suspect “food,” and the ever present prospect of hurtling face first into a mountain at 500 mph? No, we all hate having to suspend our dignity for a few hours in order to reap the joys of far off Caribbean beaches, trendy ski resorts, or Aunt Edna’s fifth wedding. Then why do we all rush to get on the plane as soon as they announce boarding? Surely, with guaranteed seating, getting on first certainly doesn’t get us any advantage (unless it’s oversold, a problem for another column). We won’t get to our destination any faster. First class and steerage arrive in musty jet lagged tandem.
Why? I’ll tell you why: because we know damn well some degenerate is going to glom all the overhead bin space above our seats, that’s why! The inconsiderate know it’s first come first served for those bins. People in Row 33 are too lazy to lug their bags to the back of the plane, so they get as far as Row 10, and “presto” their junk has a home. Fed up with the latest outrageous baggage fees? No problem, that duffel bag will fit nicely in three or four overhead racks. On your way to a wedding with a fancy gown? Stretch that bad boy across the entire compartment! No wrinkles for you!
Too bad that the last 10 people onto the plane will have to sit with their knees pressed against their chests, because the only place for their carry-ons is where their feet were supposed to (mostly) fit.
The solution is simple. When you are issued your boarding pass and seat, it will have a correspondingly marked overhead compartment (above your actual seat), that no one but that seat holder is entitled to. No more rush to be first aboard, no more salmon swimmers going against the flow of passengers trying to get to their bags 10 rows back, no more muffled resentment toward our fellow sky cattle. It wouldn’t cost the airlines anything more than the price of stickers to mark the overheads, so they should be in favor of it too.
With that problem solved, we could then focus on the truly important airplane issues, like arm rest hogs…