How You Can Avoid Gate Checking Your Carry-On Bag on Certain Delta Flights

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When it comes to having to gate check bags, most of the US airlines are very aggressive when it comes to this, as they’ll usually run out of overhead bin space. However if you find yourself on a payload optimized flight, as Delta calls it, then chances are you won’t have to check your carry-on bag.

When it comes to Delta, they are especially aggressive in this regard, and usually will make all of Zone 3 and Zone gate check their rollaboard bags, however on a recent Delta flight from Las Vegas to New York, that wasn’t the case.

On this particular flight out of Las Vegas on Delta, they were not going to be gate checking ANY rollaboard bags at all, despite it being a full flight onboard a Boeing 737-900, which don’t have the overhead bins that can extra accommodate bags on their side stacked like books.

On this flight they specifically said that any carry-on bags passengers had must be put in the overhead bin, as they wouldn’t gate check any bags since our flight was payload optimized, which meant the flight attendants helped to find everyone space in the overhead and even stored a few bags in their closet.

If you’re wondering what payload optimized means, Delta will designate certain flights that are weight restricted, and in this case it was due to extreme temperatures in the summer. Essentially, there wasn’t enough space available in the cargo hold area to accommodate all planned bags and cargo as well as the fuel needed, so they couldn’t take any more carry-on bags.

Has anyone else experienced a payload optimized flight before? One of the biggest advantages as a passenger is that you won’t have to gate check your rollaboard bag. 

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  1. I feel a little mislead by the title of this article. I opened the article hoping to find a tip or technique to use so I would not have to gate check my bag (which happened recently) with DAL. However, the article was all about an obscure occurrence that likely cannot be predicted (from a pax perspective).

    How can you avoid checking your bag? Find a payload optimized flight. How do you do that? That article doesn’t say.

    Not trying to throw stones here, just leaving honest feedback about what I was hoping to find based on the title.

  2. I too was misled by the title.
    I do have two real tips.
    1. Sign up for a co-branded airline credit card that gives you priority boarding privileges. Example: American Express Gold, Platinum, and Reserve cards. You will board with group one so there will be plenty of overhead bin space.
    2. Use a carry-on that will fit under your seat. But keep in mind some bulkhead seats do not have under seat storage. To find out if your bulkhead seat has under seat storage check First Class bulkhead seats do not have underseat storage but most main cabin bulkhead seats do.

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