Earlier this year, I was browsing Amazon for a few last-minute carry-on essentials when I saw the Airplane Pockets tray table cover pop up as a suggested item. I had never seen such a thing, and my first thought was that it’s actually pretty genius. Would this mean I never have to touch or eat off a dirty airplane tray table ever again? I turned to my fellow Condé Nast Traveler editors to see if I’d been missing out on the tray table cover trend. In a room full of frequent fliers, no one had seen or used anything like this before, but our editors were equally intrigued. I was sold. I purchased this $30 Amazon travel essential, and now, a few flights later, I will never fly without it again.
What is an airplane tray table cover?
The slim, lightweight cover slips over your seat tray, like a pillow case or book cover, offering travelers a clean surface to eat and work on. My days of aggressively wiping down my seat tray with antibacterial wipes before it feels sort of clean enough to use are over. Now when I board my flight, I slip on the tray table cover and immediately feel at ease.
The best part is that when your seat tray is up and locked in place, four compartments hang down, giving you room to keep your water bottle, Kindle, phone, snacks, earbuds, and any other in-flight essentials secure and organized (and outside of the plane’s frequently-used pockets). The four compartments vary in size, with the smallest fitting a pair of glasses and the largest holding even my laptop. I can’t be the only one who would consistently misplace small items like my AirPods in the pocket that holds the safety manual, right? And now, with so much room to store my personal items, I’m less inclined to stow my bag under the seat in front of me—I toss it in the overhead bin and win back a little extra leg room.
Is it bulky to travel with?
As excited as I was to try out this new accessory, I worried it would take up a lot of space in my carry-on. However, since it’s made of a lightweight and stretchy polyester, the tray cover is foldable and thin enough to pack in nearly any tote bag or backpack. It also takes up very little space on the airplane—it’s slim and clings to the seat in front of you. When it’s time to pull down the tray to eat, the pockets holding your personal items move down with it. None of my belongings fell out of the pockets and it didn’t compromise too much leg room. My fellow Traveler editors were curious if I felt silly pulling this thing out of my bag and sliding it on to my seat tray—and I actually didn’t. I didn’t receive any confused looks from the flight attendants or my seatmates—except maybe some envious ones. It only takes two seconds to put on and then I’m able to sit back comfortably with all of my must-haves in sight.
Can I reuse the airplane tray table cover?
After each flight, I’ve tossed the reusable cover into the washing machine and voilà! Clean and good as new. It’s also water-resistant, so if you’re prone to in-flight spills like I am, there’s no need to worry.
Is it worth it?
I’m always on the hunt for a travel accessory that makes a long-haul flight in economy more enjoyable. It’s been a complete game-changer on the last few flights I’ve taken—my plane experience feels cleaner, more organized, and slightly more elevated. Not only is my seat tray covered so I can safely eat snacks right off of it, it also keeps me from juggling items in my lap, while still having my lip balm or headphones easily accessible. And with a price tag of just $30, it’s a no-brainer. I recommend this Amazon find to every type of traveler and for every type of flight. It’s the simple travel accessories like this one that can make all the difference on your next flight.