Topic of the Week: Where Do You Want Your Seatback Pocket?


Mrs Cranky recently received a survey from American and this was one of the questions:

American Seatback Pocket Survey

So, do you care? The higher pocket supposedly gives more legroom, but it usually won’t hold as much. What do you think?

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53 comments on “Topic of the Week: Where Do You Want Your Seatback Pocket?

  1. Good question!

    When I started seeing the top ones (SWISS intrat-european flights for example), i liked them as they were a better height but generally they are solid plastic ,and you cant put your hand down right into them – so you can leave stuff in their more easily as theyre not visible. The lower ones tend to be netting.

  2. The old good bottom ones are better! I tried to place the 250 pages book I was reading in the top one and it wouldn’t fit. In fact the top one is box, whilst the bottom one is really a pocket. Maybe if they make the top one really a pocket, i.e. flexible, I will change my mind.

  3. I’ve always been in favor of placing the pocket on the front on the seat on the floor (behind your legs). It’s space not really used by your legs and it frees up an extra inch or so of knee space. It would also serve as a barrier from the person in the row behind you stretching their legs through the open space into your area.

  4. If the top ones are solid and you can’t put you hand down in it like was said above, how do they clean out the garbage people would still put in them?

    I would go with the old style pocket since it gives you a place to put things during the flight.

  5. I work for an airline. The pockets need to be see-through no matter where they are placed. Passengers leave so much on board, and this is where most of it is left.

  6. Seat pocket? Dont you mean waste receptable? Snot rags, used vomit bags, garbage, used boarding passes, water bottles, newspapers, etc..etc.

    but, if I had a choice: inside the seat, on the other side of the tray table. Abit of a cleaning issue with cleaning crews.

  7. The problem with the pocket up top is it gives you extra seats not legroom. In fact with equivalent legroom the pocket up top will make you feel cramped. I’ve never seen an interior as cramped as the SWISS intra-europ with pockets up top. Felt claustrophobic.

  8. How the heck do you stuff a giant water bottle or your headphones or other large bulky items in the top mounted pockets? Too many times during a flight you have to stow items and the pocket is the only good place. Those high pockets are ridgid and can’t hold much more than a few magazines. I agree they look cleaner and make for nice publicity photos, but in reality they don’t work.

      1. Oh wait…sorry….the majority of US domestic flights are on aircraft smaller than a city transit bus and they took your carry-on from you when you boarded. Should have flown Southwest. :)

        1. Apart from the Southwest feg here, most people will want to store items in the pocket regardless of the space by their feet – it is simply more convenient and that way you don’t kick your water bottle over.

  9. What it really comes down to is not what the public wants, (you know the public that pay the airlines bills), but what will cost less. Meaning the top pocket and for the very reason even I said. The bottom pocket must be open and cleaned out which means human American workers to do the job which cost money. They can’t out source that job to a call center in India, so they will opt for the top pocket. Means less workers and time needed to clean the plane. Stop laughing planes do get cleaned sometimes :-)

  10. Imagine the hours of labor saved if they had NO seat pocket…you see, everyone thinks the seat pocket is a trash can. Each night armies of minimum wage employees comb thru these seat backs removing gum wrappers, napkins, insulin needles, toothpicks, sandwich wrappers, sandwiches, paperback books, full dirty diapers, used boarding passes, etc, etc, etc. Any seat that has video monitors should NOT have a seat pocket. The emergency card should be available on screen via a quick-touch on the screen or armrest control and accessible with a small (watch size) battery backup should power fail during an emergency. The inflight magazine likewise should be available free of charge via the video system. The Flight Attendants would actually have to pass up and down the aisles an additional time or two to collect trash. There’s plenty of time to warm that jumpseat once the plane dips below 10,000 feet. The elimination of all this paper and trash hauled around day after day in your seat pocket would have to amount to substantial fuel savings over the period of a year across the entire fleet. Now, as for the the puke-bag? Store ’em the lavatory and stop throwing up at your seat and stuffing the leaking bag into your seat back pocket.

    1. Shocking and interesting, yet not surprising, that American Airlines is questioning pax about a seat concept that DOES NOT have a video screen. Why bother putting in new seats that are nothing more than a rehash of seats introduced decades ago. Unless of course they plan to continue flying those 50 passenger lawn darts for the foreseeable future.

    2. That trash will exist no matter what, and it will probably end up on the floor rather than the pocket. I don’t think you can replace hard copies of the safety card, and the seat pocket isn’t really much added weight or labor in the first place.
      And if you don’t want new seats on your airplanes, fine, go fly old United planes or something, and don’t complain about AA wanting to put new ones in.

    3. The FAA will never go for digital safety cards. Hell, the airlines will never go for it. Because it means if the IFE or whatever system you’re using to display the safety info is malfunctioning you’ve got to fix it before you can fly the plane. Either that or provide the customer with a paper safety card!

  11. I was recently on an AA flight that had one of the FA’s telling passengers that the seat pocket was not provided for their use and was strictly for the emergency card, etc. She was making pax remove water bottles, books, etc (anything that stuck out) from the pocket due to FAA regulations. I thought this was WAY over the top and ridiculous.

    Anyone else seen this happen ?

    I vote to leave the pockets low and mesh material is preferred.

    1. I was on an Eagle flight two weeks ago where the FA made similar announcement. She was apologetic but firm about it. I was in seat #1 against bulkhead and she did make a point of telling me that I could leave my newspaper in the pocket on the bulkhead,since there was no where else to put it. After take off we had a nice conversation and she seemed a bit concerned about enforcing this policy. She is a 30 year veteran and former FA Trainer. From the conversation I gathered that this had recently been added to her opps manual. From her perspective, since it was in the manual, it was subject to FAA regulation/oversight. It was not clear to her if this restriction was added by American, or required by the FAA. She did mention she had heard of some concerns about heavy objects falling or flying out of pockets. Keep in mind this was an RJ where the pockets are held on with velcro and snaps.

      Return flight FA did not say a word.

      1. On AAEagle, between flights during the day, the FLIGHT ATTENDANT is the one who straightens up the cabin. Of course there is no FAA regulation governing what you put in your seat back pocket. The FA is simply using Federal persuasion to entice you to make her/his job easier.

        1. Todd, YOU’RE WRONG.

          It is a regulation for all AIRLINES, now mandated by the FAA. It’s IN my manual. Items can NOT protrude or prevent EGRESS from the row of seats. Next time you fly, I’m sure a flight attendant would be more the happy to show you via the Inflight Manual.

          1. The intent of the carry-on baggage regulation, Title 14 of the Code of Federal Regulations (14 CFR) part 121, § 121.589, is to prevent carry-on items from slowing an emergency evacuation and to prevent injury to passengers by ensuring items are properly restrained. Seat pockets have been designed to restrain approximately 3 pounds of weight and not the weight of additional carry-on items. Seat pockets are not listed in the regulation as an approved stowage location for carry-on baggage. If a seat pocket fails to restrain its contents, the contents of the seat pocket may impede emergency evacuation or may strike and injure a passenger.

            If small, lightweight items, such as eyeglasses or a cell phone, can be placed in the seat pocket without exceeding the total designed weight limitation of the seat pocket or so that the seat pocket does not block anyone from evacuating the row of seats, it may be safe to do so.

            The requirements of the carry-on baggage regulation are applicable to take-off and landing. Nothing in the carry-on baggage regulation prohibits a passenger from taking out small personal items from an approved stowage location and placing them in the seat pocket after takeoff and stowing them in approved locations prior to landing.

          2. Could someone please describe any item which 1) Fits into a seat-back pocket and 2) Prevents egress during an emergency?!? A five gallon bottle of water? Table top dictionary? What in Juan Trippe’s name are you people flying with today? All kidding aside, I think it goes back to the use of those silly RJ-135/145s and their lack of space. Is a paperback book in your seat back pocket going to pin you to your seat should the plane catch fire?!? If so, I’d choose another airline with better legroom.

          3. Best Line Ever: Is a paperback book in your seat back pocket going to pin you to your seat should the plane catch fire?!? If so, I’d choose another airline with better legroom.

            So true!

          4. Could someone please describe any item which 1) Fits into a seat-back pocket and 2) Prevents egress during an emergency?!?
            Many passengers were starting to place LAPTOPS in the seat pockets. Heavy and UNSAFE should you be required to be in your brace position at a moments notice. I’ve seen a “pair of wheels” placed into the seat pockets (“wheeled carrier” for suitcase in the 80’s).
            It needed to be addressed. Even that area on the aircraft was starting to congest the aircraft…..with issues.

        2. If all you fegs stop trying to take way too much stuff with you when you travel we wouldn’t have this problem.
          People today, especially Americans, are obsessed with stuff, and you just need to learn not to bring your useless stuff with you wherever you go

      2. From the conversation I gathered that this had recently been added to her opps manual. From her perspective, since it was in the manual, it was subject to FAA regulation/oversight. It was not clear to her if this restriction was added by American, or required by the FAA.

        Yes, revisions are added when needed. And, yes, it’s apart of our crew duties now. Just like checking seatbelts, lap children, bags stowed, galley’s secured. AA was required to add this to the manual, as per the FAA.

  12. I prefer the bottom because the first thing I do when getting to my seat is grabbing all that crap and placing it in the overhead bin thereby grabbing extra knee room for my 6’4″ frame.

    There is already too much stuff at the top of the seat and when the person in front reclines there is virtually no space left.

  13. I would like an innovative design in my seat back pocket. One that can be activated by the person upon whose seat it is mounted. In this version after an airline defined (based on their customer service standards – or the amount of fee the activating passenger wants to pay) amount of kicks, headrest grabs, and incessent banging on the seat, the seat back pocket becomes a restraining device for the offending passenger.

  14. If that photo is the actual seats AA is using they are the untra thin seats which will mean they will cram more rows into each plane giving less leg room. So maybe with the pocket on top you may be able to grab the inflight magazine and safety card easier since the opening slot will be in front of your face when the person in front of you reclines back.

    They should cut back on the recline amount so you aren’t looking at the top of the persons head in front of you when they recline back. No more then an inch recline to ease the pressure on your back is all that is needed.

  15. The first thing I do is through all the magazines and catalogs in the rack on the floor or in the overhead. They airline’s ad revenues or shopping profits aren’t my concern. Keep them where they are. Otherwise they will just add seats.

  16. The only minor issue I have is being able to reach it on the bottom. Maybe this is only a problem in UA economy plus and exit rows. If it’s on top it’s easier to reach but it may cause one to pull on the seatback and disturb the passenger in front of you. Obviously I’m conflicted about it.

  17. Lower. The top position will be dangerous if something is half out and gets propelled at a high rate of speed.

  18. I don’t care about the PLACEMENT of the pocket as much as I wish it received a good solid CLEANING more often. Do you KNOW what people stick in there? Do you want your stuff to touch that, and then once they have do you want to touch your stuff???

  19. i can’t believe this is even a survey question, choosing between lower seatback pocket or upper seatback pocket should be preempted by the fact there is IFE already in place on the upper portion of the seatback. If this is NOT the case, then why is a carrier even considering investing capital and effort in new seats/interior for the aircraft and not IFE as well?

  20. Why is everyone so concerned about IFE? Not having IFE on a flight isn’t going to kill you… The survey didn’t say if these were for domestic or international flights, but if they are for international, who cares about no IFE? When it comes down to it, the travel public will fly based on price. If AA is cheaper with no IFE than UA, then most people will go with AA.

    Allegiant has the pre-reclined seats with the seat pocket at the top.

    1. However, AmericanAirlines, unlike Allegiant (which makes money hand-over-fist) is staking their future viability on the ‘premium’ paid by the ‘premier’ customer. To offer a ‘seat for the masses’ while hoping to attract the high-end business passenger smells like a continued recipe for “unsatisfactory financial performance.” There are too many bean-counters running American and not enough ‘airline’ people.

      1. The survey says the new seats are for the coach cabin. I don’t see where it says it is for a “premium” cabin. Unless I’m missing something…

        1. Careful not to confuse the literal ‘premium’ class onboard the aircraft with a ‘premium’ market segment. My reference was to the latter.

  21. So, I’d go for the high up setup, presuming it is a flexible net, and not a hard container.

    The lower seat back pocket has usability issues because it gets obstructed by the tray table. There also is the whole people forgetting to hand trash to the flight attendant. If its right in their face its much less likely they’d forget to hand it over..

  22. Yes! I want the seatback pocket…but it must somehow be changed to move the supporting wire. I am 6’4″ and as I cannot afford business class or first class this metal digs right into my knee cap!

  23. Wow. Pretty much divided 50/50 here. Maybe they should make them movable! :-) I never have enough room for my stuff in the old ones already, so I’d probably be despairing with the top ones.

  24. a slot for the legally-required safety card and the barf bag. no magazine, so skymall, no other crap. that’s what i want.

  25. NEVER touch anything in a seat back pocket people! As a flight attendant I can’t tell you how many times I have found dirty diapers stuffed deep down in them, used tissues and phlegm rags. Putting the pockets up high wont take the disgusting out of your fellow travelers but it might just make the cleaners aware of something that shouldn’t be there. AND PLEASE wipe off the tray tables with a Clorox or Lysol travel rag!! You have no idea how many people thing a tray table is the proper spot to change the diaper they then shove deep into that seat back pocket.

  26. I want any and every reason for the passenger behind me to touch my seat to be eliminated. I paid for the seat, I don’t want anyone else touching it or me. 100% of my issues with other passengers are them F’ing around with the crap attached to the back of my seat!!!
    Put the tray table in the armrest of the SEAT IT SERVES and remove the seat back pocket. Place the emergency instructions and other SBP items in the armrest.

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