There are a few weekends that are pretty much guaranteed to be busy travel weekends – Easter, Thanksgiving, etc. And for these weekend trips, almost everyone has a suitcase carry-on for the (limited) overhead space. Personally, I hate checking my baggage as well. There’s always the chance something gets broken, you have to wait at baggage claim vs. being able to walk out of the airport immediately – all sorts of stuff like that.
So it’s best to keep your luggage with you if you can, but when everyone has a bag to put in the overhead, you run the risk of being one of the few who have to check your luggage.
So here’s the quick tip: Check in early online 24 hours prior (that one is obvious). But more than that – if you know that the flight will probably be full and you have a carry-on that you want to bring with you, choose a seat in somewhere the middle of the plane. That way you’re guaranteed to have some overhead room, even if it’s a few rows in front of your actual seat. I normally like seats up front so that you can get off the plane quicker, but in the case of busy weekends, I’ll wait a little longer to get off the plane with my bag over waiting a lot longer at the baggage claim.