My Kingdom for a Cup Holder

Thai Airways Boeing 777.      Photo by the author.

Thai Airways Boeing 777.     Photo by the author.

April 17, 2014

THE SIMPLEST THINGS, sometimes, make a noticeable difference.

I’ve brought this up in my prior critiques of economy class ergonomics, but let me ask it again: why don’t U.S. air carriers equip their seat-backs with cup holders?

I’m talking about the snap-down holders available on both Airbus and Boeing models. Most of the major Asian, Middle Eastern and European carriers have them, but I have never seen a cup holder on an American airline. Not once. Why?

It’s nice to have your beverage there in front of you without having to deploy the entire tray. There’s a lot more room to move around, and getting in and out of the seat is easier. As a bonus, you can use the thing as a hook for your headset or earbud cord.

I know, I know, of all the things to complain about. And airlines, rightly, put the bulk of their cabin investments elsewhere. But considering the minimal costs involved, why the hell not? These are not expensive amenities.

And I’d apply the same sentiment to, for instance, a slightly raised edge on the front of your tray table to keep items from sliding into your lap during turbulence. Just a quarter inch would do the trick. (Gravity, we expect, is something that the people who design airplane interiors are at least vaguely familiar with, though sometimes I wonder.) I can’t imagine the extra cost would be more than a penny or two, if anything at all.

Japan Airlines 787.  Photo by the author.

Japan Airlines 787.    Photo by the author.




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