Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Tech Column: The Seat Pocket in Front of You

by Bill Adler

I'm sorry you're reading my column this week. I'm sorry I've written it, too. Shouldn't we be at the beach or the Cape?

Perhaps you're planning to escape right after reading this article. (Looking for ideas? Try www.lastminute.com for last minute trips.) Perhaps in your mail today will arrive an envelope bearing good news: You've won 100,000 frequent flyer miles.

Regardless of how or when, sooner or later you're going to take a plane. (Another aside: Why do we say, "take a plane?" Surely nobody ever "takes" a plane like they take a piece of pie.) For when that inevitable time comes, I offer this one piece of advice, which is the subject of this week's tech column:

Put nothing in the seat pocket in front of you.

I'll pretend I'm a politician and immediately clarify my remarks: Put nothing in the seat pocket in front of you that you want to keep. You will lose it. Maybe not on this trip, but eventually you will lose something valuable by leaving it in the seat pocket. Once you've stepped off the plane, there's no way to retrieve that item. Legions have tried and failed. From iPads to passports to eyeglasses to prescription medicines -- all gone.

Airline passengers staged a mini-riot in 2009 when SkyWest airline, apparently with the blessing of the FAA, told passengers that nothing could be put in the seat pocket. That ban was quickly undone. But could it have been that SkyWest was doing passengers a favor? Sure, it's a pain not to be able to take off the socks that you've been wearing since Johannesburg and put them in the seat pocket. But was SkyWest actually helping passengers hang onto their stuff? I think so.

What alternatives are there to keeping stuff in the seat pocket? (For those who are flying cramped class, that is.) One option I like is a travel vest, http://amzn.to/Rciz03, a vest with about 10,000 pockets that can hold just about everything you'd otherwise put into the seat pocket. Yes, it looks a
little nerdy (okay, make that a lot nerdy), but it beats involuntarily donating your smartphone to charity or having to explain to the nice immigration officer why you don't have your passport anymore.

So that's it. That's this week's tech column: short and, I hope, a little bit practical. Now stop reading and start planning your trip.


Bill Adler is the co-publisher of the Cleveland Park Listserv, www.cleveland-park.com. He is the author of "Boys and Their Toys: Understanding Men by Understanding Their Relationship with Gadgets," http://amzn.to/rspOft. He tweets at @billadler.

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