Overhead storage bin
Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

Stupid Tip of the Day: Watch Carefully When Overhead Storage Bin is Opened

When a member of the flight crew says “please use caution when opening overhead bins, as items may have shifted during the flight” or “be careful when opening the overhead bins, as items may fall, and please, be sure to close them tightly” or some similar verbiage during the safety announcement, heed that warning by watching carefully if an overhead storage bin located above you is opened at any time.

Stupid Tip of the Day: Watch Carefully When Overhead Storage Bin is Opened

A metal bottle fell and struck the arm of the wife of FlyerTalk member jsnearline after an overhead storage compartment was opened by a flight attendant aboard an airplane operated by Southwest Airlines on Thursday, June 21, 2018 in response to a request by a fellow passenger to retrieve a bag for him.

In another incident which occurred slightly greater than 14 years ago, a “computer case went straight down” on the head of the nine-year-old son of FlyerTalk member JS.

If something similar happens to you, do not expect to sue the airline and win — at least, not easily, anyway. A laptop computer bag fell from the overhead luggage compartment and “conked” William Allen on the head on Thursday, January 4, 2001 aboard an airplane operated by American Airlines. Allen sued American Airlines with the assertion of claims of negligence and loss of consortium, respectively. The decision by the judge in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania on Wednesday, September 24, 2003 was in favor of American Airlines.


Despite the best efforts of members of the flight crew to ensure that belongings are stored properly in the overhead storage bins, passengers arranging items and turbulence are two of many factors which can increase the chance — and the danger — of items falling out when the doors to them are opened.

One way to mitigate the chance of being hit by an object which falls from the overhead storage bin is to sit in a window seat instead of an aisle seat.

Another way to reduce the chance of an item falling out of an overhead storage bin is to carefully open it slowly with one hand while simultaneously placing the other hand in a position which would help to prevent or block any stowed items from falling out of the bin. They should never be opened quickly.

Although the odds are thankfully low, expect that an item will fall from an overhead storage bin whenever it is opened and watch what happens carefully — without being paranoid about it, of course. Avoiding an accident from happening is the best form of prevention.

Other articles which I have written pertaining to overhead storage bins aboard airplanes include:

Photograph ©2016 by Brian Cohen.

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