The real reason why you should fold your table on an airplane during takeoff and landing
The folding tray table is a standard part of every airplane cabin, as is the requirement to fold it down during takeoff and landing. While you may be frustrated that you have to pack your laptop or hold your phone in your hand to watch a movie or TV show, this requirement is a safety precaution.
"An airplane can experience sudden movements, such as turbulence or even an aborted takeoff. If tables with trays are left open and lowered, things on them can fly around and become dangerous. Therefore, to prevent danger, it is important to fold and lock the tables in an upright position," says David Doughty, CEO of Admiral Jet, a private air transportation company, according to Travel + Leisure.
But in addition, tables with trays should be removed for the unhindered movement of passengers. "In the unlikely event of an emergency, you should be able to quickly get out of your seat and walk to the exit without the obstruction of a tray table," says Montreal flight attendant Steve Daniel.
There is also a reason why trays need to be removed during takeoff and landing. "Takeoff and landing are the two phases of a flight with the highest probability of surprises," says former pilot Hans Mast, now a travel agent with Golden Rule Travel.
For all of these reasons, the Federal Aviation Administration, which regulates air travel in the United States, has legislated the requirement to remove tables with seat backs during takeoff and landing. "Safety always comes first in aviation, and these precautions are part of a broader approach to minimizing risk," says Mast.
"Airline passengers should also remember to wipe the table with an antibacterial wipe before using it. Studies show that this area contains eight times more germs than a toilet flush button.