Q: Why am I asked to store my tray table for takeoff and landing?
So that, in the event of an impact or sudden deceleration, you don’t impale yourself on it. Additionally, keeping the trays up allows for a clear path to the aisle during an emergency evacuation. The restriction on seat recline is for similar reasons. First, it restricts head and body movement, (the high seat backs lessen the severity of whiplash-style injuries), while also allowing for the fast dash into the aisle.
This Q&A is part of a collection that originally appeared on Salon.com. Patrick Smith, 38, is an erstwhile airline pilot, retired punk rocker and air travel columnist. His book, Ask the Pilot (Riverhead) was voted “Best Travel Book of 2004” by Amazon.com. Patrick has traveled to more than 55 countries and always asks for a window seat. He lives near Boston.