SP Air Tray Reviewed by The Wandering Sant
As seats get smaller and smaller, we lose more and more room to store our gear while flying. Enter the SP Air Tray, one Sacramento-area man’s answer to a problem that plagues both seasoned travelers and newbies to the skies alike.
Air travel has its own little quirky things we are forced to deal with once we board the giant flying aluminum tube.
- We give up the concept of personal space, that sacred zone where none shall enter except significant others, your mother, and the guy in the middle seat.
- We assume the fetal position in order to fit into the row, after airlines keep shrinking the “pitch” between the seats.
- We place ourselves into an environment riddled with germs with recycled air that would make a waste treatment plant look as clean as a laboratory.
In this compromised environment, it’s the little things that make the trip tolerable and keep us from killing our seat mates. On my flights this evening, the SP Air Tray helped make my journey from Sacramento to Kansas City just a little easier.
About SP Air Tray
Designed by Andy Bernadett in Grass Valley, a city just northeast of Sacramento, the SP Air tray is a device that slides into the window tracks on the airplane to provide an inflight shelf. Initial prototypes, including the one provided to me, were designed specifically for the Boeing 737 configurations used by Southwest Airlines. Andy tells me he’s also working on an adjustable model that will accommodate other types of aircraft, a model I hope to try in just under a month when I fly to Europe.
How does the SP Air Tray Work?
My SP Air Tray prototype had a hinged section that unfolds from the main tray. It is that portion that slides into the grooves of the window used by the window shade. “Installation” for lack of a better term, is best accomplished at the midpoint of the window at which point you can then slide it to the bottom thereby securing the SP Air Tray into the grooves .
Thanks to the included rubber strip, I was able to safely place my phone, ear buds and water bottle on the tray where they remained during takeoff and the climb to 10,000 feet. Even as I write this article, turbulence is no match for the tray. My drink, snacks, and external battery pack to charge my phone are all safely anchored down and haven’t moved an inch.
Where Did The Idea Come From?
My wife and I fly SWA a ton (companion pass, best thing ever). I always run out of space on the tray table and the drinks are always a problem. Plus I usually have binoculars with me to check out roads and towns. Also there is very limited space to stow my reading glasses.
On a flight back from NOLA last Oct. I noticed the visor channels in the window and thought that would be a good place to connect something. Made a few sketches and them made one out of cardboard, zip ties, and duct tape. Tried it on a flight to Hawaii a couple weeks later and it was awesome. Flight attendant said it was the coolest thing she’s seen in 25 years of flying. I’m a window seat freak so it’ll be interesting to see how many other window seat fans are out there.
Well Andy, that Flight Attendant wasn’t alone in being impressed by the SP Air Tray. You can add a couple more to that list from today’s flights.
“Wow, that’s a really neat shelf. Where did you get that? I don’t even have to tell you to put it up!” – Southwest Flight Attendant from SMF to LAS
“Are you the creator of those? I seriously just saw one on Facebook. Very cool idea!” – Southwest Flight Attendant from LAS to MCI
Better yet, Southwest employees aren’t the only ones interested in the SP Air Tray. Passengers all around me took interest and were very curious. One woman, an avid proponent of aisle seats had this to say:
“I’m usually an aisle seat person, but I’d definitely sit on the window for that.” – Nikki from Las Vegas
Imagine if an airline, or Boeing themselves picked up on such an idea!
So just how did the Wandering Sant come into possession of this marvelous device? I guess you can thank Southwest Airlines. Remember that picture I posted to Twitter few weeks ago? The one featured in this article that was re-tweeted by Southwest? Andy saw the picture, realized I was a Sacramento local, and reached out to me asking if I would be interested in trying one for myself. The rest is history.
@chmsant saw your shot of Lake Tahoe. let me know if you want to try spAir Tray. I’ll send you one. Fits great on all SWA planes.
— spAir Tray (@spAirTray) April 6, 2015
“Free” beverages, in-flight entertainment and reading material are supposed to distract us from just how uncomfortable air travel really can be. Today it was the SP Air Tray that took my mind off things, and allowed me to enjoy some extra room without the seat back tray table jabbing me in the stomach. It also was a great conversation starter. The plexiglass seemed to bend a bit more than I had expected under the weight of a full water bottle, but other than that, the tray performed as expected. I’d definitely recommend you pick a row where you have two windows, or where the window is slightly forward. If the window is at your shoulder, or slightly offset to the rear of the plane, you may find that the space normally occupied by your arm is now used for the tray.
— The Wandering Sant (@WanderingSant) May 15, 2015
Disclosure: The Wandering Sant was provided a prototype of the SP Air Tray specifically for review purposes at the request of the inventor. No compensation, monetary or otherwise, was given in exchange for this review.