One of the worst parts of air travel, and traveling in economy or coach, is attempting to sleep. I know, airlines tout the dimensions of their seats’ recline but let’s just say “recline,” shall we? Because I don’t consider a couple of inches reclining; I consider that an adjustment.
If you’ve ever searched for products to help you sleep while traveling by air, you’ll go down a rabbit hole of information. Some of it is fascinating, some head-scratching.
I did that last summer, while preparing for a trip to Europe. I was determined not only to be as comfortable in economy as possible but also to attempt some shut-eye.
After many, many hours and days of research, I decided to go with HEIRBLS’ inflatable travel pillow. I made the choice for several reasons. First, I have back and neck issues that stem from a car accident, so leaning against the window or simply back against my seat with my neck unsupported just don’t work. I’ve used the typical U-shape travel pillows and they just don’t do that much for me. Secondly, and this is completely shallow, when I sleep sitting up, my mouth will, at times, fall open, causing me to wake myself by that open-mouth snort. That’s not even discussing the drool potential.
HEIRBLS’ pillow fits the bill with these two issues. It’s designed to be placed in your lap or on your tray table and your face fits comfortably in the top “opening,” much as your would on a massage or chiropractic table. I was worried about potential back strain but have no fear, travelers. There was none. The height of the pillow allowed me to lean forward comfortably and having my face down meant no open mouth dozing.
This pillow also could be used in a window seat to place between you and the body of the plane, as a “side” pillow. Because it’s inflatable, you control how firm it is.
Speaking of inflation, it was very quick and easy to inflate – – maybe 5 puffs – – and fast to deflate. It folds up until a small carrying case that cinches closed and doesn’t take up an excessive amount of real estate in your bag.
It did allow me some catnap time and I didn’t pay for that with tight, sore joints as a result. The open space at the bottom of the pillow allowed me to link my hands through it, almost hugging the pillow, for added comfort. If you choose, you could put your iPad or other electronic device there and watch a movie or listen to music while facedown.
When I bought this pillow, other potential purchasers had expressed concern as to whether the pillow would be hot, given you are facedown. Let me assure you, it’s not. I found the pillow very comfortable with no circulation problems whatsoever. I had no issues with the microfleece fabric on my skin (and as a sensitive skin owner, this can be a concern) nor with leakage during use (something I saw mentioned with other brands’ pillows.)
Were there any negatives? The pillow did have a slight plastic-y odor when I opened the bag. I conquered that by opening the product and placing it outside for a few hours.
The pillow can also be a bit tricky to fold up and get back inside the bag. I practiced a few times before my trip so I wouldn’t be put on the spot on the plane.
The little bag it comes with, while having a drawstring, doesn’t have anything on it that would allow you to attach it to the outside your carry-on which, while a bummer, it’s a fairly small thing.
If you’re not in the window seat and using this pillow, you do prevent your seatmates from getting by. I was sitting in a four seat middle row configuration, on the aisle with my sister next to me so it wasn’t a huge concern for me. If you’re traveling solo and sitting either middle or aisle, you may want to let your seatmates know it’s okay to tap your shoulder to get by if they need to.
Maybe the biggest con for most is just using the pillow. As my brother said, upon seeing the pillow, “You’re going to be one of those people??” Yep, one of those people who make use of a product that’s not necessarily the norm. Not as standout as the Ostrich pillow but noticeable nonetheless. My brother snickered that the other passengers would probably laugh and make fun of me but I figured if I was asleep and/or facedown, I wouldn’t know or care anyhow. And I didn’t.
To wrap up, I wouldn’t hesitate to recommend HEIRBLS’ inflatable travel pillow. It’s compact size, easy inflation and economical price make it a winner. The pillow comes in either black, pink or (my choice) grey.
I purchased mine on Amazon which is showing it’s now unavailable. You can, however, purchase directly from the HEIRBLS website.
Disclaimer: I was not paid nor otherwise compensated or endorsed for this review. I purchased the product of my own accord. If HEIRBLS would like a spokesperson, however, look me up!