Take it from someone who once left their paycheck in the back of an airplane seat pocket. (Yes, physical check. It was also payday so I wanted to grab my check before I left for my trip. I did not go home nor pass Go nor collect $200 in between all of this.)
I mean, here's the thing: People leave shit behind all the time. My best friend once left his Kindle in the back seat pocket and I once almost forgot my phone amidst Hemispheres and the safety instructions until a friendly flight attendant reminded me. But personally, I'd rather forget a paycheck than a Kindle or phone because at least I can get the check voided and reissued. This is where Flight 001's Seat Pak steps in: It is the in-flight organizer most travelers are waiting for. Especially for absent-minded ones rushing to get off the plane.
Starting at $28 on Amazon, the Seat Pak comes in four colors: black, charcoal, mint and orange. (Our unit was provided complimentary for the review.) Aesthetic choices abound here but this is one of those cases methinks it's not the best idea to go with an unassuming color lest it destroys the whole purpose of owning one.
Flight 001 appears to make a lot of products that make me question the value of $98 packing cubes—do they come imbued with magic crack?—but this is one product that seems to be smartly made and tailor made for those on the run. Maybe a pencil organizer will do the trick and perhaps a Ziploc bag can be subbed in for half the functionality but the Seat Pak's dimensions are tailor made for fitting the right gear and documents in.
The Seat Pak measures 9 inches by 7.4 inches (23 cm x 18.7 cm) and can expand up to 2.75 inches (7 cm). It's also made out of water-resistant nylon, perfect for splooshing a Bloody Mary all over a tray table by accident. In order to test how well this water-resistant claim held up, I decided to drop some water over a thin part of the pack to see how it would hold up. Truth be told, I was very pleasantly surprised to see it hold up so well:
The nylon practically repels water. Instead of soaking into the bag, the water sloshes around until it's cleaned up. I checked the interior after several tests—you can bet your booty I needed more than one shot for that video—and there was absolutely no moisture residue in the interior. Great for protecting travel docs inside, not so great for my tray table.
The front side is separated into three compartments: Aerostuff, Travel ID and Digital. The back side is a full-sized compartment labeled Jet Comfort. Of course, there's no need to color inside the lines but Aerostuff section is also subdivided into two card slots for what seems like ID, a few frequent flyer cards and anything that might be handy. Both that and the Travel ID compartment are the perfect sizes for storing any boarding passes. They're pretty secure inside while being roomy enough.
The Digital pocket is another full-sized pocket and can accommodate all sorts of gadgets, including iPad minis and smaller devices. For example, not only does an iPad mini and its Logitech keyboard slide effortlessly in, I can also chunk my Kindle Paperwhite into the mix. (For better weight distribution, I'd move the phone to the other side. The main issue with chunking in a lot, though, is that the weight drastically increases so I'd seriously consider carrying a tablet solo but less tech-heavy travelers can get away with it.)
The backside, Jet Comfort, lets travelers throw in whatever they want. In my case, it's all my other survival gear I normally bring for flights. On a recent flight to Chicago, this is what I squeezed in:
- GoBites Duo spork
- Grand Trunk collapsible chopsticks
- Sleeping pills
- Travel socks
- Night mask
- Face blotting wipes
- Hand wipe
- Apple and Micro USB cord
- iPhone 6s
- Amazon Kindle Paperwhite
- Anker Astro Mini battery
There's a hook on the left side, that's about a centimeter wide, designed to hook on the top of tray tables on the latch. The problem is that once it gets heavy, the hook may tear away from the rest of the body. The nice thing, though, about hanging it from the tray loop? You are definitely not going to forget it.
That's if it worked properly. This is a fantastic product in theory but doesn't execute the concept flawlessly. Not only are there reports it won't latch on top of a tray table, the tray tables on United's Boeing 737-900 and Boeing 757-200 has no recess to hang on the back of the seat. There is a small caveat: it's possible to loop it on but the tray table must be opened and the latch itself must perform some acrobats to get it into position.
Neither flight attendant crew seemed to mind it hanging off the tray table during the plane's takeoff or descent but the complicated procedure to get it on the latch basically relegates it to the seat pocket. Needless to say, it was a bit disappointing and I hope the company fixes the loop issue at some point.
The main problem with the Seat Pak is that it begs one question: Do you keep all of your things together? Or keep them separate? Because if you lose it, you're shit of luck. This is a plus or negative depending on the perspective but this is perhaps the reason why picking a bright color is ally a smart move. Just in case, I made sure to drop in a business card in case everything goes to hell!
(Honestly, though, if all your travel docs are in the bag and you forget it, you're going to realize it's lost pretty quickly. Personal side note: I frequently switch between bags to test on the road. The Seat Pak also lets me switch bags or purses with zero effort and still have all my travel supplies on hand. Handy if you're in a similar boat.)
It's worth noting that the Seat Pak itself comes in a very sturdy and solidly made clear bag. Though it's smaller than a standard piece of paper at 8.1 inches x 10.4 inches (20.5 cm x 26.5 cm), it'd be a good place to store travel documents like reservation printouts or even business receipts. There's no indication on the volume and the company says it's a bit too big for carrying on liquids, it's very reasonable to assume that it could pass as a quart-sized bag for liquids. The dimensions seem to be within an inch or two of most quart-sized bags.
The point is, I'd definitely pay the $28 upfront than have to deal with the hassle of losing a more expensive device. This is preventive gear that's actually worth it.