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The correct way to wear a neck pillow

July 11, 2021
3 min read
The correct way to wear a neck pillow
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Editor's Note

This article has been updated with additional information. It originally appeared in June 2019. 

I’ll never forget my first neck pillow. After a long-haul flight proved to be a pain in the neck, I was willing to throw money at any possible solution in the airport gift shop.

Pillow purchased, I settled into my return flight with a sense of hope, and after dinner and a movie I drifted off to sleep with my neck pillow in place. But rather than slumber peacefully as the photo on the label suggested, I was jerked awake when my chin fell forward.

After deciding U-shaped travel pillows were a waste of space in my carry-on, I gave the pillow away. Then, more than 10 years later, I discovered it wasn’t the pillow, it was me. I’d been using it the wrong way around.

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While almost everyone you see on a plane wears the pillow around the back of their neck with the gap at the front, it works a whole lot better if you flip it and reverse it — as demonstrated in this viral Tik Tok video. With the gap at the back, your head is supported, eliminating the strain on your neck if it falls from side to side, chin securely in place.

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https://www.tiktok.com/@sidneyraz/video/6982254638443531525?referer_url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.intheknow.com%2Fpost%2Fneck-pillow-for-travel-airplanes-forward%2F&referer_video_id=6982254638443531525&refer=embed&is_copy_url=0&is_from_webapp=v1&sender_device=pc&sender_web_id=6891278716250801670

I’ll admit to feeling like a fool when I decided to give a second travel pillow a chance and wear it ‘backward’. I could see other neck pillow users looking at me in confusion, but I simply smiled, popped in my earplugs, pulled on my eye mask and settled down to sleep.

And sleep I did. The few times I woke through the night flight due to turbulence I felt a sense of comfort from the pillow’s position and fell back to sleep easily in a U-shaped hug. By the time we landed, I was such a convert I wanted to tell everyone carrying a travel pillow off the plane that they had to try it the other way around.

Granted, there are some times when you don’t want to wear it under your chin. The reverse position doesn’t work well at mealtimes or when you’re having something to drink. And, until I find one with an Elizabethan ruff design that takes the whole look to a so-silly-it-works level, I’ll continue using my neck pillow as lumbar support while watching movies.

Then, when it’s time for shut-eye I’ll look like the person who has the wrong end of the stick but is sleeping soundly. Until word gets out and more of us use the humble U-shaped pillow in the way it can do its best work. I’ve yet to see anyone else on a plane wearing it that way, but look forward to the day we can nod at each other.

One final thing: When it comes to the right way to wear them around your neck when you’re walking around the airport, let’s agree that forwards, backward and sideways are all off the table. Loop them around the handles of your bag and avoid turning heads for the wrong reason. Until my ruff design comes out, that is. Then it will look awesome.

Featured image by Getty Images/Caiaimage
Editorial disclaimer: Opinions expressed here are the author’s alone, not those of any bank, credit card issuer, airline or hotel chain, and have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by any of these entities.

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TPG Editor‘s Rating
Card Rating is based on the opinion of TPG‘s editors and is not influenced by the card issuer.
4 / 5
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Rewards Rate

10XEarn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel
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  • Intro Offer
    Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel

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    Credit ranges are a variation of FICO© Score 8, one of many types of credit scores lenders may use when considering your credit card application.

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Why We Chose It

The Capital One Venture X card is one of the best all-round travel credit cards ever launched. Not only is it offering a tremendous welcome bonus, but cardholders can earn tons of miles on everyday spending and receive a 10,000-mile anniversary bonus to boot. Its annual fee is $395, but cardholders can count on up to $300 in statement credits toward travel booked through Capital One Travel each year and other valuable benefits like access to Priority Pass lounges and Capital One’s own growing family of airport lounges.

Pros

  • Excellent welcome offer worth 75,000 miles after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first three months.
  • Up to $300 in annual travel statement credits toward bookings make through Capital One Travel.
  • 10,000 bonus miles (worth $100 toward travel) each account anniversary.

Cons

  • The $395 annual fee might be expensive for some, but this card’s benefits provide much more value than that.
  • If you don’t travel frequently, this might not be the best card for you.
  • Earn 75,000 bonus miles when you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening, equal to $750 in travel
  • Receive up to $300 back annually as statement credits for bookings through Capital One Travel, where you'll get Capital One's best prices on thousands of options
  • Get 10,000 bonus miles (equal to $100 towards travel) every year, starting on your first anniversary
  • Earn unlimited 10X miles on hotels and rental cars booked through Capital One Travel and 5X miles on flights booked through Capital One Travel
  • Earn unlimited 2X miles on all other purchases
  • Unlimited complimentary access for you and two guests to 1,400+ lounges, including Capital One Lounges and our Partner Lounge Network
  • Receive up to a $100 credit for Global Entry or TSA PreCheck®
  • Use your Venture X miles to easily cover travel expenses, including flights, hotels, rental cars and more—you can even transfer your miles to your choice of 15+ travel loyalty programs
  • Named editors' choice for "Best New Credit Card of 2021" by The Points Guy
  • Earn 10 miles per dollar when you book on Turo, the world's largest car sharing marketplace, through May 16, 2023