Like many curmudgeons before me, I’ll do pretty much anything to avoid getting up once I’ve taken my seat on an airplane. Case in point: during holiday travel, I have been known to wear my coat on my person for the entire duration of the flight to avoid any unnecessary trips to the overhead bin. You will probably not be shocked to hear that there is a much easier solution. It turns out there is a “secret” coat hanger installed right in front of our faces on most airline seats—one of the hidden airline features you never knew existed.
You’ve probably stared right at it without realizing. You know on your tray table, how there’s a little latch to keep the tray locked upright? That latch sometimes has a little hook embedded in it (a decision made at each airline’s discretion), specifically included for your outerwear-hanging convenience. Who knew?! But Kate Sullivan, creative director at Secret Fares, points out that, while they’re great for your jacket or cardigan, they’re unfortunately not “very effective for bulky coats—the coat slips off or you end up losing precious legroom to a heavy jacket draped in front of you.”
But there is another great hack to make use of them. Sullivan suggests “using those little hooks to hang your earbuds or headphones,” as well as any other cables you happen to be toting for your transcontinental journey.
If your seat doesn’t have one of the familiar hook-and-latch configurations, many tray table latches are designed to serve as functional coat hooks. On some flights, there may even be other options. “You can also sometimes find little knobs on the seatback or side that do the same thing,” Sullivan says. Look for a little knob projecting out toward the window, sometimes with a coat hanger symbol printed on it. No need to guess what this is for. Coat hangers: just one of the many things you can still get for free on an airplane.