My $10 airplane seat hack

This little secret was an accidental discovery on a red-eye flight from LAX to NYC.   As I’m settling in just after take-off, my seat mate needed to use the bathroom.  So mid-way through inflating my neck-pillow (more on why I use an inflatable neck pillow in another post) I had to grab my things, unbuckle me seat belt and move out into the aisle; naturally, I didn’t even bother to try and settle back into my seat until my fellow passenger returned.

Somehow in the process of getting up and down out of my seat I “lost” my pillow; dark plane, dark seat, dark pillow equals forget it…it’s gone.  I figured somewhere in Row 18 my pillow had fallen on the floor and was wedged under one of the seats.  Have you ever tried to lean down and pick up something off of the floor in a coach seat?   Awkward!  (If any of you have a graceful way to do that, let me know!)

Having given up on my pillow, I buckled back in and settled in for a 5-hour nap and woke up on the East Coast being pleasantly surprised at how comfortable my flight had been.  Not bad for a coach seat…..I must have been really tired.

As I was getting off the plane, “18B” said, “Hey don’t forget your pillow”.  In all of the commotion to get out of my seat at the beginning of my flight, my pillow had managed to end up behind my back and not on the floor after all.  THAT was why my flight was so comfortable.  Ever since that flight, I have flown with an inflatable pillow behind my back!

inflatable neck pillowThe secret to this hack is to only inflate the pillow to about 15-20% of its capacity.  Do NOT inflate the pillow completely.  That will cause your back to arch and ultimately be more uncomfortable than if you had nothing behind your back at all.

Place the pillow like a “U” with the bottom part of the “U” placed in the small of your back with the “sides” of the “U” supporting the side of your back and hips.  You can adjust the level of inflation in the pillow to what ever is most comfortable for your body and the airplane’s seat.   This will vary by air carrier and type of aircraft.  Many airlines have eliminated reclining seats in coach class, but some seats still recline slightly.

These inflatable pillows are readily available in the travel section of stores like Target and Wal-Mart, Walgreens, and CVS, as well as online.  You can also purchase these at most airports, however, the price is usually about double what you could buy if for at your local discount retailer.   I’ve had my inflatable pillow for over 5 years and I think I picked it up from my local Marshalls store.

In keeping with the Less is More mantra, these inflatable pillows fold up flat and easily fit into my in-flight pouch.  Watch for an upcoming post about what I carry on every flight to keep me comfortable and to help me look fresh when I step off the plane!

Wander lightly!


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