Short People Problems: We Tried 4 Products That Promise a Better Flight
Have you ever had to ask for help shutting the overhead luggage bin because you couldn’t reach? Do you constantly feeling left out of the conversation because you're not at eye-level with the rest of the group? If this sound like you, you may have what I like to call short people problems.
Trust me, I get it. I personally stand just 5 feet tall and I too have faced the daily struggles of being vertically challenged. I'm pretty sure there have been times when I've been in the same room with The Points Guy himself, Brian Kelly, (who stands at 6 feet, 7 inches) and he didn't see me.
While we may experience many, ah, short-comings, we also come out on top in other areas. We’re limbo champions, for example, and we always get to be in front of all the group photos. Best of all, there's never a shower head we won't fit under.
And when it comes to flying in economy, being short is a blessing for obvious reasons. On flights we enjoy ample leg room, space to move around and we don’t have to worry about our knees banging against the tray table. But there can be one major drawback: Sometimes, our feet don’t reach the floor.
Dangling feet can cause discomfort, and if you’re like me and have lower-back issues, this can make things even worse. When your feet don't touch the floor, the back of your legs may hug the seat cushion, which can also result in poor circulation. Personally, I feel much more at ease when my feet are slightly elevated and my lower back is rounded out.
Fortunately, there are a handful of different products available online for those of us who need a little boost. From swinging foot hammocks to inflatable footrests, I decided to test four products that I thought could help make my inflight experience better.
EazyFeet Hammock Footrest
The Design: It's a literal hammock for your feet. The foot portion is hung by adjustable straps that are made to be clipped around the tray table. A separate piece of cushiony memory foam was included to serve as a divider placed between both feet. The footrest itself was also slightly cushioned. This came as a two-pack on Amazon, with another slightly smaller hammock without the memory foam divider. The two hammocks came in their own nylon travel bags.
My Experience: I really liked the hammock with the memory foam divider. I was able to have my feet elevated at a comfortable position. The adjustable straps allowed me to tailor the height exactly to my liking. It rolled up compactly and could easily fit in any carry-on. Because the cushioned insert is not attached to the hammock in any way — it's meant to simply be placed between the feet — you have to readjust the cushion every time you slightly move your feet. Overall, it worked well. The only downside is that you're confined to that same position the whole time.
As for the other hammock that came in the two-pack, I definitely prefer the one with the cushion. Without it, both feet sink together in the middle, causing you to sit with touching knees, which isn't a comfortable position, either.
Best For: Someone who needs a little boost and doesn't move around much throughout the flight.
Don't Use: If you are the antsy type who continuously shifts and fidgets.
The Verdict: 7/10 for the one with the divider, 5/10 for the one without it.
GGET Hammock Footrest
The Design: This foot hammock is very similar to the first, with one major difference: There are individual hammocks for each foot. Other than that, the design was the same with an adjustable strap hung around the tray table. There is a second adjustable strap that connects both hammocks together in the middle, so you can adjust how far apart you'd like your feet to be. This hammock was not cushioned and had completely flat bottoms.
My Experience: It took a little bit of time to adjust the strap so that one foot wasn't higher than the other. At first, I accidentally twisted it so the connecting strap in the middle hung outside of the two hammocks instead of the inside. You can see in the photo below that nothing was connecting the feet together, compared to the correct placement in the photo above. My feet were super wide apart and I found that very uncomfortable until I realized I had it on wrong.
Once I had that all straightened out, it wasn't too bad. This product lets you spread your legs out a little more than the first hammock I reviewed. I think it comes down to personal preference between the two, but I preferred the EazyFeet hammock because I like to sit with my legs closer together.
Best For: This hammock would be better for someone who likes to sit with their feet wide apart.
Don't Use: If you're looking for something very firm. This definitely helps, but it isn't exactly the same as getting to put your feet down on a firm, flat surface.
The Verdict: 6/10
RikkiTikki Inflatable Footrest
The Design: The inflatable footrest reminded me of a mini air mattress. Different compartments allow you to fill up the footrest to your desired height. It folds up compactly, but it's still bigger than both of the hammock footrests.
My Experience: I once saw a video on Facebook of a man inflating one of these with the air conditioner vent. Pure genius. I tried it and it worked perfectly.
There was one issue, though. Once it was inflated, it was too big to squeeze between my chair and the chair reclined in front of me. To combat this situation, I had to let some air out and shove it in between the chairs. Of course, it was not firm enough to rest my feet on, so I did some weird maneuvers to blow it up while it was in position on the floor — all while I was sitting in my seat trying to not wake up the passenger next to me. Keep in mind that I was stuck in the middle seat. So, a word of advice: Make sure to inflate your footrest before the person in front of you reclines.
I liked the footrest better than the hanging hammocks. I am very fidgety in flight and constantly changing positions. When your feet are in the hammocks, you're bound to the spot they're hung in. At least with the inflatable footrest, you can make some slight adjustments and put your feet in different spots. This is also great for children who are short enough to curl up and lay down completely in the seat.
Best For: People who want a firm(ish) surface and need space to adjust their feet throughout the flight. Also great for parents traveling with small children who can lie down.
Don't Use: If you're trying to save space in your carry-on. It's not terribly large, but it is a little bigger and heavier compared to the other products.
The Verdict: 7/10
Travel Bread Footrest Hammock
The Design: The Travel Bread footrest hammock kind of looks like a sleeping bag. It's an actual hammock for your entire body, not just your feet. It spans the length of the chair and hangs suspended over the floor between your chair and the chair in front of you. The fabric is thin and lightweight, and the bottom half has an adjustable strap that clips around the tray table while the other end is meant to be looped around the top of the chair. A small inflatable pillow, which could be blown up in just two big breaths, fits into a pocket on the bottom where you place your feet.
My Experience: I'll start off by staying that there is no way to casually set this hammock up — especially when sitting in the middle seat. You'll need room to stand up, lay down the hammock, and do a bit of adjusting to get everything just right. The hammock is also pretty impractical because if it was used in the way shown it's shown in the photos from Amazon, this thing would have covered the inflight entertainment system on the seat back behind me. I'd read that same complaint on the Amazon reviews, and the reviewer advised wrapping the top loops around the headrest instead. That worked fine, but you also have to hope you'll be on an aircraft that has a headrest that would be compatible.
Besides all of the set-up issues, I actually loved this full-body hammock. It allowed me to comfortably move my feet around on a solid platform. I think it actually was the most comfortable product of all of the ones I tested. Plus, I didn't have to directly sit on a germ-filled airline seat. However, the fact that it's a pain to set up and it isn't exactly made in the most practical way really brought down my overall impression.
(Since reviewing the product, the company released a brand new version that fixed the IFE screen issue. If anyone happens to buy the updated product, let us know in the comments how you like it!)
Best For: People flying the aisle seat on an aircraft with an adjustable headrest.
Don't Use: I'll be honest, I felt a little embarrassed getting this thing all hooked up. If you have a middle or window seat, you'll also have to ask your rowmates to stand so you can set up the hammock. But the worst part is that it may be completely unusable on a flight if your aircraft doesn't have a compatible headrest.
The Verdict: 6/10
While all these products worked well, I'm not sure I would actually bring one of these along every time I fly. For a long-haul flight in economy, I would consider bringing the EazyFeet Hammock Footrest, just because it is one of the most compact and the easiest to set up. It also doesn't attract much attention, like inflating the footrest or setting up the full-size body hammock would. And if you want to save a few bucks, just bring a backpack as your carry on and put your feet on that!