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Most frequent travelers have been there: You board an aircraft early, ready to store your trusty carry-on in the overhead bin. But, when you go to open the bin, it’s filled with emergency equipment, service items or flight attendant bags. So, you either have to swim back upstream to store your bag over someone else’s seat or head farther back in the plane, delaying you on arrival.

Well, on display at Aircraft Interiors Expo in Hamburg, Germany, this week are two solutions for how to give you back that overhead bin space, and both solutions look remarkably similar — adding storage compartments to the middle of the aisle.

Lufthansa Technik

Lufthansa Technik’s “Center Ceiling Stowage+” is a pretty straightforward solution of a pull-down compartment. The bin can hold up to 38.5kg (85 lbs) and is designed to hold “less frequently used equipment,” such as emergency equipment, baby bassinets, collapsible wheelchairs or crew luggage.

Lufthansa’s CCS+ is fully certified and ready to install in the Airbus A320 family (A318, A319, A320, A321) — and installation only takes two days. For now, the unit is certified to add up to two per aircraft (forward and aft), but the airline is working on certifying a third position in the middle. When installed, the bin still gives 2 meters of head clearance — only becoming a height issue for those taller than 6’6″.

When asked if the product would be expanded to wide-body aircraft, the project manager said not yet, as there isn’t as much of a need. Instead, Lufthansa Technik is looking next to certify the product on the Boeing 737.

Airbus

The Airbus Ceiling Stowage solution is certified to hold 40kg (88 lbs) and up to 115 liters of capacity (over 4 cubic feet / 30 gallons). The Airbus option allows 1.95 meters of height in the cabin when installed, becoming an issue for those taller than 6’4″.

Understandably, Airbus has only developed this product for Airbus aircraft, and it’s ready to go on the A319 (up to two bins), A320 (up to two bins) and A321 (up to three bins).

There are two notable features on the Airbus Ceiling Stowage solution that are not on the Lufthansa model: lighting and a double-locking mechanism. Airbus’ product incorporates mood lightning into the sides of the bin. But the creative double-locking function is my favorite part of the Airbus solution. Designed to prevent unauthorized access to the bin, passengers can pull down on the handle as hard as they want to and won’t be able to fully open the bin.

Airbus Ceiling Stowage compartment double-locking mechanism.

However, Airbus’ ceiling stowage solution has a downside: It’s only available as a retrofit to A319, A320 and A321s “classic cabin.” The bin isn’t “part of the Airspace concept.” Airbus is also looking to bring the idea to wide-bodies. There’s a super-secretive model of the A330 version that was walled off from public viewing at AIX. During my tour, I wasn’t even able to look at it, much less take any photos of it.

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