The Valley News, “Have a Sanitary Flight” August 24, 2011
“Anyone who’s traveled by airplane recently has experienced the result of the bean counting that has dominated the airline industry. Meals have been scaled back to snacks. Snacks are now just water. Planes are chronically overbooked and there are new baggage handling fees. In at least one case, an airline has considered charging passengers to use the bathroom. Smelly bathrooms, food crumbs left in seats and spills on the floor have become commonplace in many airplanes as tighter turnaround times give crews less time to straighten up the cabin between flights. There have been horror stories — such as when a lavatory overflowed and waste spilled down the aisle of a trans-Atlantic Continental Airlines flight in 2007.
But, for Drebitko, it was the sticky tray table in front of him that was the final straw — and also his inspiration.The 38-year-old Woodstock resident has partnered with a friend from Cornish, Alexys Wilbur, to invent a tray table cover. The product, called “trayGuard,” was launched in June and has recently made its way into Upper Valley pharmacies…Mark Knight, owner of Eastman Pharmacy, said the product was a good fit for germ-phobic consumers of hand-sanitizer and other anti-bacterial products…“It’s a good, unique product…and there’s a need for it,” Knight said. “It looks like a good fit for us. There’s a lot of business travelers around here. The airlines are cutting back, and they have to cut cleaning.”
The inspiration for the product came in 2008, when Drebitko racked up 50,000 miles of air travel as a management consultant. Disgusted by the plane cabins, he thought a tray cover could address one point of
concern in his immediate personal space…The pressures on airlines to move more passengers and boost revenue aren’t likely to ease up this year…That could mean passengers will have to assume more responsibility for cabin cleanliness, which is what Drebitko and Wilbur are betting will happen. Their invention…“will provide one more tool in a traveler’s arsenal” to reduce the risk of getting sick, Drebitko said. “It gives peace of mind that they have one hygienic surface in their personal space,” he said.
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