Gone with the Grins

A Review of the Travelon 1st Class Sleeper Back Pillow

If you’re like me, you’re well-acquainted with lower back pain. And while touring castles and taking in sunsets in National Parks is the whole point of traveling, the process of getting from point A to point B requires lots of sitting. On planes, on trains, in cars. And forget sleeping. Trying to catch a few zzzzz’s in my upright seat, my spine slowly, slowly compressing… well, let’s just say I usually arrive at my destination feeling crippled and cranky. Which is why I got myself the Travelon 1st Class Sleeper, a 2-in-1 back pillow system that allows me to recline as much as possible with good lumbar support. I’ve used it on a few long-haul flights, and while it’s not perfect (what is, besides my own bed?), so far it’s the best I’ve found.

The Travelon 1st Class Sleeper is an excellent back pillow system.

How It Works

The 1st Class Sleeper is essentially a 35″ x 17″ rectangular, inflatable pillow with a valve near the top. Before sitting down, spread the pillow up the back of the seat, sit on the longer part near the bottom edge of the seat, and blow. The valve is near your head, and as you inflate it, the cushion fills all the way up, surrounding your entire back, neck, and head with support. Surprisingly, this can be done with only 10 breaths or so.

When you lay back and stretch your legs in front of you… and hopefully, you CAN stretch your legs in front of you… your bottom will be close to the edge and your back will be supported. Looking from the side, your body is fairly straight, even though you’re in an angled position.


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If you don’t want to sleep, simply deflate the Sleeper a bit, fold it in half, and it becomes a wide pillow for lumbar support only. In this mode, it feels more like a bed pillow to me, which is nice for some extra comfort.

Below, I’ve laid out the good and the bad of the Travelon 1st Class Sleeper. Decide for yourself if it will help you get more rest during your travels.

  • It’s a bargain at under $40 on Amazon.
  • Helps to eliminate back pain by providing good lumbar and full-torso support in a semi-reclined position.
  • Cradles your head well to keep it from falling to the side.
  • Easy to inflate and deflate. (Note: Apparently, Travelon has recently re-done the air valve. I have the old version, so I can’t say if this is an improvement or not.)
  • Fits in a carry-on.
  • Made out of thick, sturdy Nylon. I don’t recall it having a smell, but if you’re sensitive to Nylon, you’ll need to air it out first.
  • Easy to clean.
  • Now comes in a new, softer material (gray color) that’s less slippery.
  • Requires you to sit on the edge of the seat, putting more pressure on your bum, which can become uncomfortable over time.
  • At just over 1 lb, it’s a little bulkier and heavier than most travel pillows, even when rolled up and contained in its pouch.
  • Requires more foot space while in use.
  • Makes a loud hissing sound when deflating. Go slowly and you won’t feel like a dork on the airplane when everyone turns around to look at you.
The Official Specs
  • 210 d. Nylon/PVC
  • Imported
  • Spot clean
  • 35″ high
  • 17″ wide
  • A solution to uncomfortable aircraft seating
  • Easy to Inflate with 10-12 breaths
  • Supports lower back and shoulders, cradles neck
  • Rolls into a small package, weighing just over 1 lb
  • Comes in blue and gray

Get the Travelon 1st Class Sleeper here.

To read more about all my recommended travel pillows, see my post, Just Plane Comfort, here.

Disclaimer: Travelon did not influence or reimburse me in any way for my fair and honest review. All the opinions in this article are my own.