You don't have the budget to spend a couple of grand on a first- or business-class ticket so you can stretch out in bed on those long flights? How does $49.95 sound? That's what it costs for 1st Class Sleeper, an oversize pillow for those of us stuck in coach. The wedge-shaped pillow takes up the back half of your seat cushion, letting you stretch out almost flat, albeit at a 45-degree angle. It was invented by an Alaska Airlines pilot, Bob Duncan, who for years commuted in coach from his Seattle home to his Anchorage job (see BW Online, 10/16/03, "The Ups and Downs of an Inflatable Seat").
I've used it on four coast-to-coast trips now, and it's pretty comfy. It takes some getting used to, though. You inflate it only slightly -- it will still be squishy -- which takes only a dozen or so deep breaths. Or you can inflate it from the air nozzle over the seat.
During takeoffs or for short flights, I folded it in half and used it as a lumbar support, opening it fully when I wanted to nap. Before we landed, I furled it into its case, about the size of a travel umbrella. Now, all that's keeping you from shut-eye will be seatmates who want an explanation. I say it's a La-Z-Boy for coach.
By Larry Armstrong