This brilliant travel hack came straight from a PGA Tour pro

airplane phone hack

The key to turning your phone into a digital monitor is waiting for you in every seat.

Sean Zak

Welcome to Road Rules, a series in which we pick the brains of expert golf travelers, ranging from professional golfers and caddies to globetrotting course raters and teachers. We’ll unlock their must-have travel items, go-to airline tips and more to inform you for your next golf excursion.

PGA Tour pros travel all over the world, hopping from city to city, from airport to airport. It leads to a lot of time in the air, in a tin can at 30,000 feet, in which the forms of entertainment are almost always the following: reading, thinking, or viewing. 

But sometimes that last one can be a struggle. Not every plane has digital monitors in the back of each seat. Some do, and we get used to expecting it! But some don’t, and we are left holding our phones in our hands for hours, craning our neck downward for entertainment. That’s no good for anyone, particularly Tour pros who need to get off the jet and head to the course. Luckily, Tour pro Tyler McCumber shared one of his brilliant travel hacks with that solves the riddle of old planes.

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“If you’re on an older plane, they won’t have screens,” McCumber said last week. “A lot of the planes that they’re flying right now, they haven’t had screens. So when your tray goes up, there’s a little notch. So what I do is I take my phone, and I take my case off. 

“I take the throw up bag, and you put it in your phone case, and put your case back on. So you can hold your phone up, essentially, and then you put the bag [in between the notch and the tray.] That’s how you watch TV.”

Got that? Consider the throw up bag to be your own personal TV mount, with your phone (and case) as your TV. Use the pressure of your phone’s tight-fitting case to lock that bag in, and then use the pinching nature of the food tray and notch to lock the bag in place, hanging from back of the seat. 

What Tyler could have never known was how clutch this information was. I was on a flight less than 24 hours later that had no back-of-seat entertainment center. His tip was a life-saver during a 90-minute jaunt from Palm Springs to Salt Lake City, as you can see below. 

airplane phone hack
Hands-free viewing. Thank you, Tyler McCumber. Sean Zak

I wanted to give him all the credit he deserved, but I remembered quickly that this was no original idea. He was just passing on the good word that someone had given him once. 

“Everyone’s like, ‘That’s genius,’” McCumber said. ”And I go, ‘I Googled top five travel hacks on airplanes.’ Because no one likes to hold their phone up for five hours. So you’re looking up and you’ve got your headphones in and pretty much your own display monitor.”

Brilliant stuff, Tyler. Check out a TikTok tutorial of the hack below.

Sean Zak Editor

Sean Zak is a writer at GOLF Magazine and just published his first book, which follows his travels in Scotland during the most pivotal summer in the game’s history.