Skip to content

Tuesday Travel Tip: TPG readers' best tips for sleeping in economy on long-haul flights

July 21, 2020
7 min read
Photo by Celeste Martearena / Getty Images.
Tuesday Travel Tip: TPG readers' best tips for sleeping in economy on long-haul flights
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.

This story was originally published on February 16, 2020.

We recently asked our TPG Lounge members to share their best tips and tricks for getting comfortable enough to sleep while flying in economy on a long-haul flight. Here’s a look at some of our favorite answers. (Some responses have been lightly edited for style and clarity).

For more TPG news delivered each morning to your inbox, sign up for our daily newsletter.

Sticking to a strategy

Most of our TPG Lounge members described the importance of having a strategy to sleep, whether it's sticking to regular pre-bedtime activities, packing the perfect pair of wool socks or listening to that trusty podcast that always makes you sleepy.

"I have a pocket eye mask so there’s room for eyeballs and lashes, plus noise-canceling headphones and a mini beanbag pillow so it molds to whatever funky seat I’m in. Golden. Oh, and I use my bag as a footrest." — Lorena C.

"Bring your own pillowcase and stuff their pillows in it, as well as any down coat you bring." — Sarah S.

"I brush my teeth — it's always the last thing I do before bed. Whatever your pre-sleep routine is, try to stick as close to it as possible." — Christopher W.

"One thing I always do on international flights is wear wool socks with Teva slides. The wool socks keep my feet warm and the shoes are easy to slide on for going to the bathroom. I don't care that I look like a dork." — Kathy R.

"Window seat, noise-canceling headphones, eye mask and a blanket. I’ll be out before take-off." — Nikkia W.

Sign up for our daily newsletter

Related: Flying Delta long-haul economy? Your service has just been upgraded

Are you one of those lucky people who can fall asleep easily on a plane? (Photo by Compassionate Eye Foundation/Steve Smith/Getty Images.)

"Trtl neck wrap, long slouchy sweater with hand pockets, a Coldplay playlist on the AirPods and wine at dinner. Got four hours of sleep in an economy middle seat that way." — Grace C.

"Team window seat checking in! I also wear a hoodie I can turn around and cover my face with, use my blanket as a pillow, and have my noise-canceling headphones streaming the Chilled Cow playlist (seriously check it out), two glasses of red wine and 7.5 mg of melatonin." — Kristen J.

"I get intentionally bad sleep the night before and make myself stay awake until a reasonable bedtime in my destination time zone. It's easier to fall asleep when you're that tired and it combats jet lag, too." — Larry M.

"No caffeine that day, an eye mask to block out all the light, a white noise app or a good playlist for sleeping, a good neck pillow and a blanket." — Coral C.M.

"Noise-canceling headphones, a white noise playlist on Spotify (the longer the better). If I can get a workout in a couple of hours ahead of time, that seems to help. Try not to eat too heavy if you're in the lounge beforehand." — Jim A.

"Highly recommend the Sleep With Me podcast. It has helped me fall asleep on flights and fight jet lag, too!" — Caroline B.

Related: The best ways to get to Europe using points and miles

Packing special pillows and foot rests

Several TPG Lounge readers wrote in saying they always pack inflatable neck pillows or foot rests for that extra bit of comfort on a long-haul economy flight.

"I have an inflatable foot rest and it really helps. I have never had a problem with the airlines not allowing it and have used it for years, but I heard they sometimes don't allow the taller 'ottoman' styles." — Julie B.

"The Trtl neck pillow looks so uncomfortable but it was the first time I ever ever slept on a plane without my neck hurting!" — Logan P.

"I use a Purple Everywhere seat cushion. It greatly improves the comfort of any seat." — Juan V.

"I bought my daughter this little neck pillow with an attached hood. She hated it, but it is my new friend. It’s a koala bear and keeps my head in place so I can sleep. I don’t care how dumb my grown koala head looks." — Tiffany D.

Related: We tested 7 of the top neck pillows to save you from waking up stiff and sore

Do whatever it takes to get some sleep in economy, no matter how silly you might look. (Photo by frantic00/Getty Images.)

"I use my neck pillow backwards so it supports my head and chin. For especially long flights of 12 or more hours, I may carry two of them (one inflatable to save space) for all around support, but don't bother most of the time. Fortunately, I can sleep almost anywhere." — Nandini L.

"I once traveled with a $12 Ikea down pillow which came sealed in a vacuum packed roll. If you choose a window seat, you can discreetly open the pillow and lean it against the window. Best solution for attempting a night's sleep on an overnight flight. I felt ridiculous, but, whatever." — Rémy D.

"I put a memory foam neck pillow on top of the pillow the airline gives me on the tray table and use the neck pillow to support my face (like a massage table) and sleep face first. I have passed out for 12 hours like this but will occasionally take an over-the-counter sleep aid if I am having trouble sleeping." — Madeline R.

"I have an awesome inflatable neck pillow that I can inflate and deflate to exactly the right consistency for the moment and the need. I think I paid $5 for that at Walmart. I bought an eye mask that’s more comfortable than the ones they hand out on the plane and also silicon earplugs for the plane and the hotel. I also love the very petite plane slippers I bought at Daiso for $1.50. They come in a little bag and as soon as I get on the plane, I take off my shoes, put on the plane slippers and they are so much more comfortable. On a recent flight home from Ecuador, I discovered that JetBlue now has a meditation program on its entertainment system. I was skeptical but tried the unguided one and it knocked me out for hours. Check it out." — Marla J.F.

Related: United Airlines helps flyers beat jet lag with Timeshifter app

Featured image by Getty Images/Image Source

Top offers from our partners

How we chose these cards

Our points-obsessed staff uses a plethora of credit cards on a daily basis. If anyone on our team wouldn’t recommend it to a friend or a family member, we wouldn’t recommend it on The Points Guy either. Our opinions are our own, and have not been reviewed, approved, or endorsed by our advertising partners.
See all best card offers

TPG featured card

Best premium travel card for value
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
Go to review

Rewards

1 - 10X points
10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases

Intro offer

80,000 bonus points
Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

Annual Fee

$550

Recommended Credit

740-850
Excellent
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.

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more
Best premium travel card for value
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
Go to review

Rewards Rate

10xEarn 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
5xEarn 5x total points on flights through Chase Ultimate Rewards®.
3xEarn 3x points on other travel and dining.
1xEarn 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Intro Offer
    Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®

    80,000 bonus points
  • Annual Fee

    $550
  • Recommended Credit
    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.

    740-850
    Excellent

Why We Chose It

If you are looking to take your premium rewards to the highest level, this card is really a no brainer in our eyes. Chase's Ultimate Rewards make points easy to redeem, with a wide range of 10 airline and three hotel transfer partners and a friendly user interface. Despite the high annual fee, Chase is consistently adding new benefits to keep the card competitive in a fierce premium rewards field.

Pros

  • $300 annual travel credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year
  • Access to Chase Ultimate Rewards hotel and airline travel partners
  • Unlimited 3x points on the broad category of travel and dining
  • 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • Broad definitions for travel and dining bonus categories

Cons

  • Steep $550 annual fee
  • May not make sense for people that don't travel frequently
  • You must spend the $300 travel credit before earning 3x points for travel and dining
  • No automatic hotel elite status
  • Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,200 toward travel when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®
  • $300 Annual Travel Credit as reimbursement for travel purchases charged to your card each account anniversary year.
  • Earn 5x total points on flights and 10x total points on hotels and car rentals when you purchase travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards® immediately after the first $300 is spent on travel purchases annually. Earn 3x points on other travel and dining & 1 point per $1 spent on all other purchases
  • Get 50% more value when you redeem your points for travel through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,200 toward travel
  • 1:1 point transfer to leading airline and hotel loyalty programs
  • Access to 1,300+ airport lounges worldwide after an easy, one-time enrollment in Priority Pass™ Select and up to $100 application fee credit every four years for Global Entry, NEXUS, or TSA PreCheck®
  • Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more