American Airlines has begun using Airbus’ Airspace XL overhead baggage bins in revenue service on an A321neo, thus becoming the first carrier to operate the new equipment.

Designed to follow the increasing proportion of passengers traveling with a roller suitcase, the Airspace XL bins make the suitcase-to-passenger ratio close to 1:1 on American Airlines’ 196-seat Airbus A321neos, according to American VP-global marketing Janelle Anderson. Standard roll-on bags can be loaded on their sides instead of being inserted flat. The suitcase’s maximum size is 24x16x10 in., according to Airbus.

Quantification of the improvement has varied but the Toulouse-based manufacturer’s latest description of the Airspace XL bins refers to room for up to four bags in each bin, instead of the current three.

The larger bins are expected to significantly reduce the number of passenger bags checked at the gate and sent to the cargo hold. In addition to the improved passenger experience, they are thus hoped to make boarding smoother.

American Airlines is the launch customer for the XL bins, an option on the A320neo family. The Dallas/Fort Worth-based airline’s first A321neo started scheduled flights April 2 when it flew from Phoenix, Arizona to Orlando, Florida.

The company is set to receive a total 100 new A321neos by 2024. In addition, it plans to retrofit the fleet of 200 A321s. The engineering will take place in house between this year and 2021, Anderson said.

Airspace XL bins mark an evolution of the tradeoff between the volume allotted to luggage and the available space for a passenger to move around. The bins’ floor hangs 2 in. lower than the current standard and the doors are slightly closer to the aisle’s center line. The trick is an additional 3.5 in. in depth, which involved rearranging some piping and wiring between the fuselage and the interior sidewall.

The first A320neo family aircraft to fly with the full Airspace package—also including mood lighting, new sidewalls for increased cabin width (1 in. at shoulder level), wider-angle window bezel and new lavatory with touchless option—is planned to be a New York-based JetBlue Airways’ A320neo in the summer of 2020.

Thierry Dubois, thierry.dubois@aviationweek.com