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7 Shameless Ways to Make a Flight Comfortable

There is no shame in correcting the indignities of coach-class flying by way of an offbeat travel product. If an item makes your flight more comfortable, it’s worth using—even if it makes you look a little silly in a public space.

Shameless Ways to Make a Flight Comfortable

With that in mind, here’s a list of travel products that get the job done, in spite of their (sometimes) goofy appearances. Below are seven shameless ways to make your flight a little more comfortable, from booze-filled flasks to foldable footrests.

The Sweatpants That Supposedly Look Like Regular Pants

make a flight comfortable
(Photo: Betabrand)

Trick humanity into thinking you’re not a slob with comfy pants that have been designed to look more respectable outside-the-house pants. There’s a version for men from Betabrand that are eloquently called Dress Pant Sweatpants. These Dress Pant Sweatpants, made from French terry, will deceive anyone who can’t spot the difference between plainly dissimilar types of fabric. There’s also Pajama Jeans (read our review), the classic infomercial legwear that fits like your favorite knit PJs, yet looks like your favorite knit PJs dyed a jean color.

The Butt Pad

make a flight comfortable
(Photo: Magellan's)

This is a thing, I guess. I haven’t seen anyone use this product before, so I can’t offer empirical data on the popularity of seat cushion and other items meant to support a flyer’s posterior. I’d venture to guess that, in light of the uncomfortable contortions to which the legs and necks of coach flyers are subjected, measly padding under the butt is comparatively not so unpleasant. But Magellan’s has an entire section for seat cushions in its in-flight-comfort category, where it sells an inflatable version that promises to “cushion your ride” and “provide support.” And SkyMall sells a heated cushion that costs a lot of money. So this must work for some folks.

The Wearable Blanket

make a flight comfortable
(Photo: Eric F Savage via flickr/CC Attribution/Share Alike)

Why is a wearable blanket better than a traditional one? Good question. I don’t know the answer to that. But for some people, it seems, the strange fusion of clothing and bedding that is The Slanket reaches the apex of comfort. Clearly, you don’t have to bother with rearranging the thing after you get up and go to the bathroom; I guess that’s a plus. You could also wear it around the airport if you’re comfortable with public humiliation.

The Less Embarrassing Travel Pillow

make a flight comfortable
(Photo: European Sleep Works)

I’ve curated a list of more socially acceptable travel pillows. These are not conversation starters. These are normal-looking travel pillows that will have a neutral effect on your personal cool factor. First there’s the oxygen pillow, a small, white latex foam number that converts into an easy-to-carry bundle. The Magniflex Sushi Pillow is a more expensive option, but it becomes an even tinier bundle when rolled up.

The Embarrassing Travel Pillow

make a flight comfortable
(Photo: Studio Banana)

For the truly shameless, a range of creatively designed, weird-looking travel pillows is available. These are products that would make even your Captain Kirk pajamas set cringe. They may allow you to get more comfortable, but they will not help you win first prize in any popularity contests to be held on the aircraft. There’s the notorious Ostrich Pillow, which slips over your entire head and makes you look like a praying mantis. Then there’s the telephone-shaped Travelrest, my personal favorite and one of our best-reviewed items of 2012. I received some judgmental looks while inflating my Travelrest on a plane; I’m happy to report that this had no bearing on the efficacy of the pillow.

The Footrest

make a flight comfortable
(Photo: Magellan's)

Some aircraft seats come with little metal fold-down footrests. Some don’t. So for petite passengers whose legs dangle above the floor, compressing their upper thighs into the seat, a footrest comes in handy. You could just put your feet on your carry-on bag, which is what I do. Or you could buy a special product. Here is a little fold-up plastic one from SkyMall. Also, Magellan’s sells a squishy inflatable one called the Business Class Foot Rest, as if the only thing that stands between the economy experience and upper-class bliss is an inflatable PVC cube.

The Flask

make a flight comfortable
(Photo: Paris on Ponce & Le Maison Rouge via flickr/CC Attribution)

I’m not a doctor. But I’d argue that the best way to get more comfortable on a flight is to have a drink or many drinks. Alcohol relaxes the muscles, boost the mood, aids sleep, makes you cooler. To get in on the action, book a flight that serves free drinks to economy-class passengers (Alaska and Hawaiian come to mind) or go the Charlie Harper route and tote a hip flask. This 3.5-ounce flask is the perfect size for post-TSA booze consumption.

Drink responsibly! Plenty of water will stave off dehydration. And too many gimlets could result in a police-inflicted Tasering, which is not a comfortable way to end a flight.

Would you use any of these products on a flight?

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Editor’s note: This story was originally published in 2014. It has been updated to reflect the most current information.

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