Recently, our Facebook Page, and certainly Eric’s #AvGeek Instagram feed have been loaded with fabulous photos of us traveling first and business class between Asia and Europe. While we have plenty of interesting tales to tell from these upper cabin flights, particularly from our Emirates A380 business class flight, we don’t always fly in the lap of luxury. In fact, we often do find ourselves in economy class with everyone else. And, I’ve found one interesting way to survive an overnight flight, even in economy, with the best neck pillow for travel.
Almost 100% of our flights within Asia are, in fact, in economy. It’s one of the reasons we love living in Asia. We fly Air Asia everywhere, and enjoy the chance to book cheap flights for travel to the Thai islands, or to Hong Kong. We also end up flying economy when we are working with clients in the region. We don’t (yet) have the clout to ask for business class. Here’s hoping.
A few months ago, we flew round trip from Bangkok to Seoul to work with a partner. Roundtrip economy airfare was included. The flights were each roughly 6 hours, which is usually right about our threshold where we start thinking about cashing in some miles for business class, particularly on an overnight flight.
I really don’t enjoy flying economy on an overnight flight, particularly when I am expected to land in the morning and start being productive. I can handle flying economy for six hours. I would just prefer not to. I mean, if offered the chance, would you fly economy instead of business class? I for one have no interest in “keeping it real” in this case. I prefer to keep it comfortable instead, and relish my opportunities for luxury air travel.
Survive an Overnight Flight By Booking Your Seat Ahead
Keeping all of this in mind, you might say that Eric and I are both a little high maintenance when it comes to our flights. Some of this comes sheerly from the number of hours we’ve logged on an airplane. Some of it comes from Eric’s intimate knowledge of airplanes. But, we do what we can to ensure we are as comfortable as possible in the air.
On any flight we take, we use SeatGuru to pick our seats when possible. We often angle for exit row seats, and SeatGuru will tell us whether those exit row seats recline or have other limitations. Or, we angle for bulkhead seats, which are the seats at the separation of the cabins. There is a wall in front of the seat, so you don’t have to worry about someone leaning their seat into your face. If none of these are available ahead of time, we will try to check in online and see if they are available then.
If these fancy seats aren’t available, we use SeatGuru to tell us what the seating configuration is. Are there two or three seats against the window? If two, we will book an aisle and a window. If three, like with Air Asia flights, we book two aisles so that I don’t get stuck in a middle seat. All of this research is particularly important when trying to figure out how to survive an overnight flight. That extra little bit of comfort and space can mean the difference between no sleep, and slightly more than no sleep. And, that is the better option of the two.
On this particular flight to Seoul, we had no opportunity to upgrade as it was with an airline we don’t normally fly. So, we had no miles to maneuver with. We checked the seating plan on SeatGuru ahead of time and booked two aisle seats across from each other.
When we checked in at the airport, we asked about exit row or bulkhead. We managed to secure two bulkhead seats, Eric on the window and me in the aisle. We hoped that no one would sit between us and we would have some extra room. It didn’t work out quite that way, and we sat with an older petite Asian woman between us for our overnight flight. Regardless, having the extra space in front of us made the flight a lot more comfortable.
Survive an Overnight Flight With The Best Neck Pillow For Travel
I had one more tool up my sleeve during this overnight flight: NapAnywhere. I’ve never been the type of person to travel with an airplane pillow, inflatable or otherwise. NapAnywhere, though, seemed to be very different from the typical airplane pillow.
When I opened the package, I was a bit confused. The pillow was kind of a strange shape. It came with it’s own bag, which was good. But, there was a velcro strap included. It seemed like the most complicated neck pillow out there. And, it just might be. I tried messing with it at home, using the included instructions, and finally figured it out. Imagine Eric’s look when he walked into the living room and I was sitting on the couch with my NapAnywhere airplane pillow. But, I figured it out, and once I did it became a lot easier to use. Now, I just needed to test it out on a flight.
I received my NapAnywhere at the end of last year, and didn’t have a lot of opportunity to use it. It wasn’t worth it when we were flying two hours to Kuala Lumpur, or one hour to Phuket. Our overnight flight to Seoul, though, that was a different story. An overnight flight, in economy, heading into a work trip. NapAnywhere was perfect.
After take off, I declined the meal service, having no interest in eating at 1am, and started to get to work trying to sleep as much as I could in those precious 6 hours. I removed my NapAnywhere from my small carryon, still kind of surprised it fit in there once flat. I bent it all around, like I practiced at home, inserted the velcro strap, slid it over my head, and secured it into place.
I am sure that petite Asian woman sitting between us thought I was a little strange. And, it looks strange. It took awhile to get used to it. I still woke several times between that moment and landing, but certainly not a much as I would have normally. Most important, at no point did my head bobble down in a lurching motion, which is what happens every time I “finally” fall asleep on an overnight flight.
Did I feel refreshed at landing? Not as much as flying business class, but certainly a lot more than I expected. I flattened out the NapAnywhere and slipped it back into my carry on. Deplaned and went on my way.
Certainly there are loads more tips on how to survive an overnight flight, like wear comfortable clothes, drink water, don’t get drunk, etc. But, I think by securing the bulkhead seats, and trying out the NapAnywhere, I arrived in Seoul a lot better off than I otherwise would’ve been. For that, it was certainly the best neck pillow for travel.
The one thing I didn’t do: Ask Eric to snap a photo of me using the NapAnywhere. So, excuse the photos of some other brown haired woman testing a NapAnywhere in this post.
I was provided my NapAnywhere to test out during one of my overnight flights, but honestly, it worked! If you purchase a NapAnywhere, for only $59, through a link in this post, I do get a few bucks from the sale. Seriously, a few bucks. So, thanks for buying me a beer if you decide to purchase a NapAnywhere to help you survive an overnight flight.
Amber Hoffman, food and travel writer behind With Husband In Tow, is a recovering attorney and professional eater, with a passion for finding new Food and Drink Destinations. She lives with her husband, Eric, in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. Together over the last 20 years, they have traveled to over 70 countries. Amber is the author of the Food Traveler’s Guide to Emilia Romagna.