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Throughout its history, the annual Aircraft Interiors Expo (AIX) in Hamburg, Germany has been the location where many airlines and their cabin equipment outfitters have chosen to reveal their most innovative designs. This year’s show was no exception, with Zodiac Aerospace’s demonstration of a brilliant but simple idea that made me wonder why it hasn’t been around for decades.

Since the dawn of the checked bag fee several years ago, many passengers have sought to avoid that cost by carrying their bags onto the plane with them, but many older-model aircraft have overhead storage bins that are too small to accommodate the volume of bags being brought onto planes these days. Help is on the way, as manufacturers have tuned into the fact that carry-on bags are bigger and more numerous than ever.

However, the best part about this conceptual bin is the green light on top of it, which lets passengers know that there’s space for at least one more bag in the bin. The top of the bin is equipped with sensors that face down. When all of the sensors are blocked by baggage, the green light turns off, letting passengers know there’s no more room. You can see it in action in the video above (if you notice the green light that came on before the bag was removed from the first bin, that was just a small glitch in the demo product at the booth — normally it wouldn’t come on until the bag is removed).

Not only is there a visual indicator of available space in the bin, but there’s also an assistive device built into it that actually helps you close it. The Zodiac demo booth at AIX had an empty bin next to a fully weighted one, and there was very little difference in the effort required to close the full bin, thanks to the assistive system installed within. If you’ve flown Delta recently, you may have noticed that its Airbus A319 fleet is being retrofit with new, spacious Zodiac bins, minus the green light indicator.

Though the green light idea is still only being tested, there’s no reason it shouldn’t be a popular addition to airline cabins. The visual indicators will not only help relieve one of the biggest stressors for passengers while boarding, but should also help decrease aircraft turnaround times, because passengers will spend less time searching for space for their luggage. When planes can get back in the skies more quickly, that means more revenue for airlines and less potential for delays at the gate.

Featured image and YouTube video courtesy of the author.

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