Tall people often feel very cramped in coach seats on the airplane because they don’t have enough leg room. Short folks like me, on the other hand, have a different problem altogether: Our feet don’t really touch the floor, making long flights especially uncomfortable. It’s hard to recline comfortably when your feet are dangling, and you wind up feeling restless.
If you’ve ever flown business or first class, have you noticed that they almost always have footrests? The airlines know that in order for you to feel comfortable, you really need to be able to prop up your feet.
I recently ran across an inflatable footrest at a travel store, and thought I’d give it a try for the cross-country flight I took to Florida. I was familiar with a plastic folding footrest from Magellan’s, but it was way too bulky to add when just traveling with my carry-on,. The inflatable footrest on the other hand, when deflated, didn’t seem to take up much more than an inflatable neck pillow.
This footrest is very similar to those flocked travel pillows. Completely deflated, you can roll it up and stash it in your carry-on. What I wound up doing was rolling it up and laying it across the top, right inside my carry-on, so that it would be the first thing I saw when I unzipped the compartment. When I’d get to the boarding area, I normally put together a little tote bag of things I want to keep by my feet (so I don’t have to reach up for my main carry-on during the flight). In the tote bag, I’ll stuff my purse, 3-1-1 resealable baggie of toiletries, my make-up baggie, and any electronics (these days that would be my iPad). For this most recent trip, I also put the (uninflated) footrest in there as well.
As soon as I’d get to my seat and settle in, I immediately inflated the footrest and tucked it by my feet. Nobody seemed to bat an eyelash that I was blowing up a pillow; probably because it looks so much like a neck pillow if you don’t look carefully.
Once inflated, this footrest is sized perfectly for the width of the foot area of a coach seat, while still providing you with room to tuck in your small carry-on behind it. The nozzle mouthpiece is on the side, and presses in so it’s out of the way. On top of that, this footrest isn’t simply a rectangular box; it’s actually formed so that there’s a front and back. You press the tall side away from you, and your feet can rest at a slight angle like a regular footrest.
Let me say, I am completely sold on this product! Being able to rest your feet for a long cross-country flight made a world of difference for me. My feet didn’t feel bloated; I don’t think they got as swollen as they normally do, so my shoes didn’t feel too tight on the flight, either.
Plus, if you’re ever in an unfortunate position to have to sleep at an airport or train station, you can actually use it as a regular head pillow (although you might want to put a towel or jacket between the footrest and your head for sanitary reasons, unless you’ve cleaned the footrest since you used it last).
Who knew something this simple would make air travel so comfortable for a petite traveler. This gets a huge thumbs-up from me. It barely takes up any space in your carry-on, and it’s worth what little extra room it takes up.
The price on this seems to be around $20, but you can find it for as cheap as $8.99 at Amazon (link).