How Delta Air Lines is making stowing baggage easier

Do you want your airline to stow your carry-on for you?

According to the Associated Press, Delta Air Lines is experimenting with such a system, with employees taking carry-ons from customers and stowing them in overhead bins. Delta will try it out on flights with lots of leisure travelers.

Here's how reporter David Koenig described the plan:

The airline wants to see if its own workers can load the bins faster than passengers. The service began Monday on about two dozen flights, and that number is expected to rise steadily during June, Delta spokeswoman Morgan Durrant said. Early Valet will be offered through August on some departures from Delta's busiest airports — Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, Detroit, Minneapolis, Salt Lake City and Seattle.

I like the idea. I think it can help limit boarding anxiety and perhaps ensure more on-time departures.

But I still think a better idea is charging for carry-on bags. When it costs to bring them on board, fewer passengers try to jam bags in the bins. That makes boarding a lot more efficient. It also means passengers who pay for bags don't have to worry about whether there will be enough room for them.

Last month at a conference, Virgin America CEO David Cush extolled the virtues of charging for bin space. "We give the most valuable space on the airplane to people for free," Cush said. "But we charge for the least valuable place on the airplane, the belly."

I don't think Virgin America will charge for carry-ons, at least not soon. But that comment gives you a decent idea of the airline's thinking.