best travel pillows for sleeping on planes - the top travel pillows

Top Travel Pillows: the best travel pillows for flying

Advertiser Disclosure: CBoardingGroup has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. CBoardingGroup and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

Sleeping on a plane is easier said than done for many travelers. The perfect travel pillow could make that a lot easier. But, before you spend your hard earned cash on any old neck pillow for travel, let’s examine some of the highest rated travel pillows and help you hone in the best travel pillows for flying.

Top Travel Pillows: comparing the best travel pillows for flying

In the table below, we’ve selected 4 unique travel pillows based on four different travel pillow categories including:

  • Best Overall Travel Pillow
  • Best Memory Foam Travel Pillow
  • Best U-Shaped Travel Pillow
  • Best Inflatable Travel Pillow

We’ve also compared and contrasted each of these best neck pillows for travel attributes, features, unique features, portability, weight, size, washability, material and more.

Later, following the table, we’ve provided a deep dive into what actually makes a top travel pillow. For example, we address several of these key questions about neck pillows for travel:

  • What makes a great travel pillow?
  • How important is comfort to your travel pillow?
  • Should your travel pillow be more durable or more comfortable?
  • Why is sleeping upright so hard?

We are confident you will be able to find the best neck pillow for airline travel for your next trip. Enjoy!

Comparison Table: best travel pillows for flying

Disclosure: After seeing someone else using a Trtl on a plane, we actually reached out to Trtl and asked for a Trtl Pillow Plus so that we could review it. Trtl was gracious enough to provide us one, gratis. However, no guarantee on the nature of the review as asked for, offered or committed to and our review (which you can read here) was unbiased. As always, we call ’em like we see em. 

A deeper dive on the travel pillow

What makes a great travel pillow? A simple search on Amazon.com reveals more than 60,000 travel pillow related offerings. Thousands upon thousands of products released to consumers. Sleeping on a plane is a problem companies have been trying to solve for years with more products than we care to look at.

Images of people sleeping on planes and text sleeping on a plane is hard!

But, back to our original question, what makes a great travel pillow? We think it boils down to a few key features and functions:

Comfort – top travel pillows should be comfortable!

A travel pillow ought to be comfortable. This, in and of itself, is a hard task to accomplish because you are on a plane. Trying to sleep upright. By definition, the challenge is hard. But, a great travel pillow ought be comfortable. Today, that often means memory foam.

More than just the material of the pillow, the covering should be soft, and cool.

Travel-ability – travel pillows should be easy to travel with

This is a made up word, but we really like it. What we mean is, how hard (or easy) is it to travel with this thing? We like to travel light and smooth here at the CBoardingGroup. We don’t want extra gear and we don’t want stuff that requires an advanced mechanical engineering degree to use (or store).

The best flying pillows should be designed for maximum portability and usability. It should be easy to add or remove from it’s pouch (if it has one). It should be easily adjusted for various body types or seat configurations. It should be designed to easily clip onto backpacks or purses so that we can travel through the airport with it.

Durability – the best flying pillows are durable

A top travel pillow for flying needs to last. It should be able to survive multiple trips, frequent use and the typical abuse that travel brings. It should be able to survive having a suitcase dropped on it in the back of a rental car. Or a 3-year slobbering on it that one time you bring your family on a trip. And, it should be easy to clean!

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Curious where to find those hotel pillows from your last stay? Check out our guide to finding the best hotel pillows: 27 Amazing Hotel Pillows – the Best Hotel Pillows You can Buy

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Can you actually sleep with the pillow on the plane

The final test of a great travel pillow is simple (but oh so important). Can you actually sleep on the dang plane with this baby!? If you can’t, toss it and start again. Many travel pillows suffer from the common problem facing airplane sleepers: they don’t really truly deal with the neck and the fact you are sleeping up right. Your neck is either bulged out too far (causing discomfort) or there’s a gap behind it (creating the perfect recipe for a crick in your neck).

The top travel pillows are built for upright sleeping.

The Trtl Travel Pillow Plus – the best travel pillow you can find (best new travel pillow)

That’s actually why we like the Trtl Travel Pillow Plus so much and why we consider it the best new travel pillow. It’s probably the most unique and innovative travel pillow on the market today. Unlike traditional U-Shaped pillows it provides a place for your chin to rest (it’s your cheek, really) which solves the “where do I put my neck while I am sleeping upright” issue.

Disclosure: After seeing this travel pillow on an airplane, we actually reached out to Trtl and asked for a Trtl Pillow Plus so that we could review it. Trtl was gracious enough to provide us one, gratis. However, no guarantee on the nature of the review as asked for, offered or committed to. Our formal review is published here.

It simply rests where it’s supposed to as you gently lean your shoulders against your seat back and slightly tilt your head forward onto to the Trtl. Works like a champ.

Check the Price of the Most Innovative Travel Pillow – the Trtl Pillow Plus

Trtl Travel Pillow 2 - the best travel pillow for flying in our opinion

No sore neck. And, it’s adjustable based on your unique neck. With the cool scarf-like wrap it easily is dropped into place around your neck and you will soon be snoozing.

When done, it easily stows in a small mesh bag that can easily be clipped onto your bag pack for easy external transport, or stuffed into your backpack.

In our opinion, the Trtl Pillow Plus is truly the most innovative and functional travel pillow on the market…and oh yeah…you can actually sleep on the plane with it!

Check the Price of the Most Innovative Travel Pillow – the Trtl Pillow Plus

Final Thoughts on the Top Travel Pillows

We hope you’ve enjoyed our comparison of the Top Travel Pillows. More importantly, we hope you have found the perfect travel pillow for your next trip. What did you go with? We’d love to hear about it. Drop us a tweet or leave us a comment.

If you liked this content, please do us a favor share it on social media and click the “like” button below and don’t forget to follow us on social media including Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest and Facebook.

And, of course, if you are interested in more travel tips and travel advice, you might like these great articles:

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Author Biography

We. Do. Business Travel. The CBoardingGroup.com is a leading business travel focused travel blog. The principal author has over 18 years of consistent & frequent business travel. Over the years, he has developed various travel habits, travel tips, advice and more that he shares with fellow travelers of all skill levels. From hotel life, to airplane tips, to the weekly grind of frequent travel, plus a little travel humor, this blog is a haven for business travelers. Read his full bio here.

Advertiser Disclosure: CBoardingGroup has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. CBoardingGroup and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author's alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities.

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