The 9 Best Airplane Footrests
Comfort can be hard to come by in the close confines of an airplane cabin. Especially if your feet don't reach the ground, there's a real risk of joint pain and deep vein thrombosis, either of which could derail your business trip or family vacation. But, if you take your own footrest, you'll catch a good nap and encourage better posture, even in a cramped seat. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to support our work. Skip to the best airplane footrest on Amazon.
The Rest You Deserve
Of course, a footrest is one more thing to pack, so you might wonder why you can't just prop your feet on your carry-on.
There are probably two or three people on this planet — five at most — who enjoy sleeping sitting up, but for the rest of us, the airplane footrest is a lifesaver. It offers foot support that puts you closer to a reclining position, taking much of the struggle out of getting some inflight shuteye. That's probably reason enough to take one along on your next journey, but these handy travel tools might even be good for your health.
Cramped seats, inactivity, and dry air contribute to flyers' risk of developing deep vein thrombosis, a type of blood clot that can lead to serious health problems. Keeping your legs crossed and letting the seat push into the backs of your legs for extended periods may also heighten your risk, but an airplane footrest can help get you out of these positions. By keeping your legs extended, you'll have increased blood flow, which is key to decreasing the risk of blood clots. Pair this with some compression socks, and you should have very little to worry about (unless you have certain risk factors, in which case you should consult your doctor).
Of course, a footrest is one more thing to pack, so you might wonder why you can't just prop your feet on your carry-on. You certainly can, but you risk squashing everything inside, and besides — your feet have been all over the airport, probably the airport bathroom, too (shudder). Do you really want to put them all over your bag, which you'll then carry on your back or against your body in some fashion? Stash your bag in the overhead bin and let an airplane footrest take the abuse from your (probably dirty) feet.
Suspend Or Inflate?
Airplane footrests come in two main types: inflatable, which you blow up, and suspended, a hammock for your tootsies. Neither is inherently better than the other, but there are a few benefits and drawbacks to each.
Inflatables are great for those who need more room, because they tend to provide a larger surface area. For those with kids, this can be a boon; if the footrest is tall enough, it extends the seat and gives little ones more room to lie flat. And if you don't have kids, you can still appreciate the space, which lets you spread out your feet and relax.
If you're sensitive to people looking at you, well, this could be uncomfortable.
On the other hand, you'll have to blow it up and deflate it. If you're sensitive to people looking at you, well, this could be uncomfortable. Plus, inflatables are less durable in general, as one tiny hole and the item is rendered useless, at least until you can repair it. You'll need to be gentle with an inflatable, then, and perhaps carry a patch kit.
Foot hammocks won't pop or leak, and there's no big or bulky item to move out of the way if someone needs to get by. They aren't as noticeable, either, so you won't make a public spectacle of yourself just to get some rest. And if you want to change the angle at which your legs are resting, you can do so with simple adjustments.
But a hammock does have a few small drawbacks. For one, you'll need somewhere to hang it. If you're in a bulkhead seat, that could be a problem. In most other seats, you can suspend the hammock from the tray table or the seat in front of you, but be cautious not to jostle the person who occupies this seat — unless you don't mind dirty looks. Finally, a hammock has the tendency to roll your feet together, so you can't spread out quite as much as you can with an inflatable.
Since both options have positives and potential negatives, the choice comes down to personality and situation. Generally, though, people who want to spread out in the bulkhead and those who have kids might go with an inflatable; fliers who want to keep a low profile and rest their feet and legs at different angles should consider a hammock.
Tips For A Stress-Free Plane Ride
Whether you're riding in first class or in the back with the cattle, there's a lot you can do to make your flight more pleasant. At the very top of this list? Investing in the right gear, those items that let you manage your personal space and bodily comfort. At minimum, these include earplugs, an eye mask, a pillow, a blanket (for long haul flights), and some high-quality lip balm and moisturizer. Headphones and portable battery chargers are popular choices, as well.
But don't get too comfortable — avoid big meals and excess snacking, which can contribute to jet bloat.
But don't get too comfortable — avoid big meals and excess snacking, which can contribute to jet bloat. Caused by the changes in atmospheric pressure you're subjected to in flight, this digestive distress can make it hard to relax and sleep. A big, heavy meal can aggravate this feeling, as can carbonated beverages. If you're especially prone to bloating and gas while flying, skip any high-FODMAP foods the day of your journey, such as wheat, some artificial sweeteners, and many fruits.
We're sorry to say that alcohol is another contributor to an uncomfortable plane ride, one that can increase bloating, dehydrate you, and cause you to sleep poorly. True, you might fall asleep more quickly after knocking back a few cocktails, but you won't rest as well as you would without the alcohol in your system. Save the partying for your destination.
Finally, one of the best ways to arrive feeling refreshed is to drink plenty of water. This can be tough, as many airlines have stopped providing free water and you are no longer able to bring liquids through security. But you should be allowed to bring an empty bottle airside, which comes in handy at airports with drinking fountains or water bottle filling stations. Before you leave, check out the websites for the airports you'll be flying through, because they often note whether there is free water and, if so, where.
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