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Airlines like to squeeze customers for every dime they can get.
They also enjoy squeezing those customers into ever tinier seats, despite the fact that Americans are getting rather larger.
It is, of course, possible to enjoy flying in coach. When there's no one else in your row, for example, and you can stretch out a little.
For the pained majority of humanity, however, flying in coach is an odiferous, miserable experience.
It's not dissimilar to a visit to the dentist or a family member you truly can't bear. It feels good when it's over.
Is it, therefore, possible that any gadget could improve the purgatory of seat 32E?
Well, I've banged my head against a gadget that some people seem to swear by. It has an almost five-star rating from (perhaps) real people on Amazon.
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To my eyes, it looks like a rudimentary straitjacket or a bulletproof vest. When I first saw it, I imagined people putting it over their heads and somehow gaining a certain cushioning from ever firmer airplane coach seats.
But this is, in fact, the Sunany Inflatable Neck Pillow Used for Airplanes/Cars/Buses/Trains/Office Napping with Free Eye Mask/Earplugs. (Amazon descriptions are simply the best.)
The idea is that, as you sit in your narrow little seat, gasping for air, you save (what's left of) your lungs to inflate this thing.
Then, you put down your tray table and place the straitjacket pillow on it. Next, you slip your arms through the two holes at the side and lay your head down to rest.
We all have our own sleeping predilections. The mere idea, for me, of leaning forward to sleep makes my back prepare for conniptions.
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You, though, may regularly slump forward after -- or even during -- a late night out, so this may be second nature.
I was touched by some of the creator's descriptions of the product.
For example: "Like sleep on feather: these travel pillow [sic] are made of pvc flocking, the surface material is soft to the touch and caresses your face, nicely."
Who doesn't like having their face caressed? Nicely, that is.
And -- I really mean But -- there's this: "You also can watch movies or play games on your phone within the pillow."
No, please no. Aren't I supposed to sleep -- or, at least, rest and doze -- on this thing? Please don't encourage me to use my phone while I'm trying to do that.
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It's bad enough trying to tolerate the person next to you in coach, as they bring out their large, company-issued laptop.
That person next to you has elbows that dig into your ribs, as they aggressively type urgent emails to procurement.
Their increasing agitation, sweatiness, and perhaps even grunting is hardly conducive to you wanting to do anything -- other than render yourself unconscious.
I can't imagine sitting there and inflating this pillow. In coach, I tend to accept my fate, hope I have a window seat, and lean my head against it for most of the flight.
But someone has clearly tried to alleviate the pain of sitting for 6 hours or more in a tiny space.
If it works for just one person, that's something.