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Five Ways to Get Comfortable in a Tiny Airplane Seat

by , SmarterTravel Staff
Air: Man with no legroom (Photo: iStockphoto/Gene Chutka)
Editor's Note: This story was originally published on January 23, 2010. To see the most recent SmarterTravel articles on related topics, please click on any of the following links: airfare, health and safety, Jaclyn Liechti, technology and gadget.

OK, we admit it. Coach seats are downright uncomfortable. And while we can't force airlines to increase legroom, widen the seats, or stop that person in front of you from reclining into your lap, we can offer some helpful tips and products to make your next flight more bearable.

Get Into a Comfortable State of Mind

Peace of mind can go a long way towards feeling more at ease in an airplane, so be sure to plan for your needs, whether you'll have a long layover, be stuck in the dreaded middle seat, or have a flight during meal time. If the thought of germs in a plane make you queasy, consider these reusable seat covers from Kehei Traveler ($14.95, Magellan's), which include covers for the tray table and armrests, to help you relax. They're machine washable, too, so you can launder them easily after each trip and begin each flight feeling secure about your health.

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Get Some Shut-eye

If you're able to nap on your flight, your sweet dreams will help make the time pass quickly. So feel free to recline your seat (but not all the way), break out your travel pillow, and escape the confines of your chair. And if your neighbor insists on turning on his or her overhead light, try the Sleep Master Sleep Mask ($21.95, Sleep Master), which helps to block out lights, while eliminating those annoying elastic-band lines around the back of your head.

Block Out Annoying Distractions

Does the thought of a crying baby or annoying seatmate make you cringe? Plan a way to reduce the noise and retain your sanity. Try getting lost in a book, plugging in your mp3 player, or putting on the Bose QuietComfort 15 Noise Canceling Headphones ($299.95, Bose). Although these are the most expensive item on our list, they magically transform your raucous flight into a quiet, less stressful journey. Plus, they're battery powered and small enough that you can pack them easily in your carry-on.

Or, Choose Your Favorite Distraction

With so many airlines now offering in-flight Wi-Fi, you can choose from any number of boredom-reducing activities on the Internet. You can also pop in a DVD if the in-flight entertainment options are less than desirable. The e-pad travel laptop desk ($29.95, Brookstone) helps you use your computer in your seat, especially when the passenger in front of you reclines so far back that your tray table is barely usable.

Plump Up That Seat Cushion.

Long flights can turn into really uncomfortable ones when you have to sit in the seat for extended periods of time. The Skwoosh travel cushion ($29.99, Skwoosh) is engineered to relieve pressure on the lower back. Plus, its small size makes it easy to slide into a carry-on, purse, or briefcase.

Your Turn

You've read our suggestions. Now we want to hear from you. What are your favorite tips and products for making coach seats more comfortable? Leave your suggestions in the comments section below.

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