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It finally happened: I broke down and bought a neck pillow. Figures the day would finally come, as I’ve internally laughed at dozens and dozens of travelers over the years who parade around in the things. While I certainly won’t be wearing my neck pillow in the boarding line, I actually wanted to give the Trtl Travel Pillow a try and write a review. I bought my Trtl Travel Pillow on sale for just over $20 on Amazon. At this price, I was more than willing to give it a shot. It typically retails for ~$30.
What Makes the Trtl Travel Pillow Unique
The Trtl Travel Pillow isn’t your average neck pillow. Rather than a plush U-shape that wraps around your neck, the Trtl neck pillow is designed to support your neck and head by providing a chin rest. The head-bobbing and stress on the neck is the bane of sleeping in economy class, at least for me. Even the typical neck pillow doesn’t do a great job of this (granted, I’ve only ever tried to use one, and it was years ago). The plush “U” pillows might help support the sides, but sufficient chin support is still lacking.
The Trtl neck pillow seeks to solve this problem. Chin support is the bulk of what you need, anyway. You have a seat keeping you upright, often will fold-out arms that help support your head on either side. The Trtl intends to be the last piece of the puzzle.
To use the Trtl neck pillow, you undo the wrap, place the chin support section in front or slightly to the side, depending on how you want your head to rest. It took me a bit to get it situated well. After that, wrap the material around your neck and secure the Trtl Travel Pillow in place. Like so.
Don’t expect it to be flattering image. This is long-haul economy we’re talking about, where people fly in yoga pants or leggings. You’ll fit right in. You can position the brace directly in front, or slightly to the slight, which is what I was trying when I took the photo. Photos show the pillow with more of the support to the side of your head, but I had trouble getting comfortable in that configuration.
I initially tried the Trtl neck pillow at home, adjusting the support in front of me and relaxing my neck to simulate how the pillow would support my head while sleeping. I could get it into a decent position supporting my chin directly in front, and in another slightly to either side so my head could rest sorta sideways. This gave me an idea of the comfort of the pillow, but what actually matters is how the Trtl neck pillow performs on an economy flight.
Review of the Trtl Neck Pillow in Long-Haul Economy
My first experience truly using the Trtl Travel Pillow was flying Xiamen Air 787-9 long-haul economy class from Xiamen to Los Angeles. We had a 9:00 PM departure and a 7:00 PM arrival, so catching a nap on the 13-hour trek would be ideal.
My son flat out told me that he wasn’t going to sleep at all (ha!). We both watch a movie during the dinner service, and once that wrapped up I settled in to sleep for a while. It was at least 11:00 PM local time in China, and we’d already had a long day in Xiamen. Getting 3-4 hours of rest would be perfect.
I took the Trtl neck pillow out of my pack and secured it just like I’d tried at home. The seats on Xiamen Air have a fairly typical amount of recline, and after adjusting things a bit, I felt like the pillow might actually help me sleep.
Falling asleep took longer than I expected. I don’t sleep well in economy, and honestly don’t even try unless I’m absolutely exhausted. These days I prefer to fly economy only on westbound flights where you take off in the morning or afternoon and arrive in the afternoon or evening, able to just power through until we make it to a hotel.
But not all flights are timed that way. Thus, the Trtl Travel Pillow. Eventually, I fell asleep using the pillow while my son started another film. Sleep was broken throughout the next few hours, but better than if I’d had no pillow. My neck still ached a bit after four hours, and I found that I had to adjust the pillow a few times to make it work. My guess is that I got 2.5-3 hours of decent (yet broken) sleep over 4 or 4.5 hours. It was enough of a nap to help me make it through our flight, but not quite the experience I’d hoped for with a pillow.
One issue was that the wrap got a little warm. Luckily, Xiamen Air kept the aircraft at a decent temperature and not overly warm. If I’d been on another Asian carrier where they keep the cabins warmer, I doubt I would have been able to sleep due to the heat. On the typical U.S. airline, you should be fine.
I’m not fully sold that the Trtl Travel Pillow is as revolutionary as it claims, but I’m certainly not ready to toss it. I want to give it another shot to see if it can prove itself.
I found that while the Trtl Travel Pillow does support your neck farily well, it still isn’t quite enough to not cause me a neck-ache. It’s supposed to be a one-size-fits-all thing, but maybe if they made a slightly taller version with a bit wider support for your neck, the experience could be improved? In any case, I certainly slept better than if I’d been without it. It just didn’t quite wow me like I’d hoped. I’ll give the Trtl Travel Pillow another shot on my next long-haul flight.
As for my son who swore he wouldn’t fall asleep on our flight? He fell asleep on my shoulder. The ol’ dad-pillow works just fine.