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The Inconvenient Reality: Airplane Tray Tables and Their Unsuitability for Laptops

Airplane Tray Tables Can Crush Laptops

Author: Stephanie Nelson/Wednesday, August 23, 2023/Categories: Tech News

While tray tables serve their purpose for meals and beverages, they often fall short when it comes to accommodating the technological needs of modern travelers.  

In this blog post, we will explore the reasons why airplane tray tables are not suitable for laptops / electronic devices and discuss potential solutions to this prevalent issue.

Airplane tray tables are typically designed for meals and beverages, with a slight downward angle to prevent items from sliding off during turbulence.  One of the most glaring issues with airplane tray tables is their limited surface area, which makes it challenging to comfortably fit a laptop while leaving space for other essentials like a mouse, notepad, or a drink. The small dimensions of these trays force laptop users to compromise their posture, which can lead to discomfort and even health issues during prolonged usage. Additionally, the flimsy nature of tray tables often results in wobbling, making it difficult to type or work with precision.

An airplane tray table can damage electronic devices in a few ways:

  • The tray table has a small opening that holds the table in place when in its locked position.  When the front seat reclines, the laptop screen can get caught in this opening and become damaged / crushed by the seatback.

  • Placing a device screen down directly on the tray table without a protective barrier could result in scratches, scuffs, or other physical damage.

  • If a device is placed on the tray table and the table is not properly secured, it can slide off the table and fall to the ground.

  • If a device is placed on the tray table and the table is bumped or jostled, it can move and damage the device.

  • If a device is resting on the tray table and a drink spills onto the tray table, it can easily be absorbed by the device, which can cause irreversible damage to a device’s internal circuitry.

Here are a few strategies travelers can adopt to mitigate damage to electronics:

  • Use a lap desk as they provide a stable and flat surface for your device, alleviating the issues associated with the uneven tray table.

  • When booking the flight, consider opting for seats with better laptop accommodations, such as those with more legroom or enhanced amenities.

  • Whenever the seatbelt sign is on or during periods of turbulence, it's a good idea to secure the laptop / device by closing it or stowing it away.

  • Be mindful of drinks near a device.


Airplane tray tables, while functional for meals and drinks, fall short when it comes to accommodating the needs of laptop users. The limited space, awkward angles, lack of connectivity, and inadequate ventilation all contribute to an overall subpar experience for travelers who depend on their laptops during flights. While travelers can adopt various strategies to alleviate these challenges, it's high time for airlines to reconsider and redesign tray tables to better accommodate the technological demands of modern passengers. As the way we work and travel continues to evolve, it's essential that our in-flight amenities keep pace with our changing needs.


- Airlines are not responsible for damage.



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