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Much better than just an inflatable neck cushion and/or an airline pillow.

This simple effective device solves the twin problems of sore necks and sore backs when trying to sleep on planes.

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The First Class Sleeper

Magically makes coach class travel comfortable again

You might feel self conscious when pulling out your First Class Sleeper.

But soon you'll be blissfully asleep, while people around you are looking enviously at you enjoying your First Class Sleeper!



Coach class travel is never comfortable, and on a long flight there's nothing you'd like to do more than sleep, but achieving this is often difficult and uncomfortable.

The First Class Sleeper - designed by an airline pilot - provides a simple and innovative solution to this common need.

Developed based on years of experience

Bob Duncan has been a pilot with Alaska Airlines for many years, and over this time, has spent too many hours wedged into coach class seats himself.

He wanted to have a more comfortable way of being in his seat so he would have a chance at getting some sleep during flights at odd hours of the day and night.  After considerable development, we all now have an opportunity to benefit from the results of his ingenuity.

What You Get

The 1st Class Sleeper comes in a nylon carrying tube, and includes a helpful color 'Quick Start' instruction guide on a piece of light card.

There is also a plastic tube that can connect up to the overhead air vent (assuming you're on a plane that still has these things) for easy and quick inflation of the Sleeper.  Personally, I'd hesitate to use this, for fear of what people (and flight attendants) might think I was doing!

The Sleeper and its carry bag weighs 1lb, and packs up into a tube of about 2.5" diameter and 11" long - slightly larger than a travel umbrella.

The Sleeper has a 90 day, no questions asked, money back guarantee, and a one year warranty on the seals not breaking.

Using the Sleeper

You're either going to feel very superior to your fellow passengers, or perhaps slight embarrassed, when, while other passengers are struggling to get comfortable with nothing, or with one of those around the neck inflatable collars, you pull out your much larger 1st Class Sleeper and start inflating it!

But, for sure, the first impression that the people around you have will quickly be replaced by awe, wonder, and envy, while your own feelings will change to smug satisfaction, comfort, peace, and soon, sleep.

Using the Sleeper is simple, but in a manner reminiscent of a water bed, it is important to get exactly the right amount of inflation.  Too much, and it is uncomfortably firm, too little and it is uncomfortably insubstantial.

An inflation tube extends out of the top of the Sleeper.  Bob recommends '10-11 big breaths' into the Sleeper, at the end of which it looks very limp and uninflated.  But this is all it needs, no matter how it looks.

You then simply drape the Sleeper over the back of your airline seat (or car seat or bus seat or whatever) and sit back into it.

Your body pushes the air out of the middle and into the sides, causing it to wrap slightly around you.

As your bottom moves forward on the seat, the gap between your lower back and seat - instead of staying empty, stressing your spine, and causing you pain - fills up with the air that your upper back is displacing, and so gives you good firm support from top to bottom.

Bob has designed the head area so that the center piece of the head rest doesn't much fill with air, but the part around the sides does, so you truly have excellent neck and head support.

When I first used it, I blew the recommended 11 breaths into the Sleeper, and with beginner's luck, decided I had it absolutely perfect.  I then retested by first over-inflating it, and then, little by little, letting air out to experience the different feel of the Sleeper, until reaching the point where there was clearly not enough air in it.

Correct inflation is important, but there is a fairly wide zone of acceptable levels of inflation, and it is easy to 'calibrate' the Sleeper by simply putting in a bit too much air, then letting it out, little by little, until it feels just right.

There is also a 5 minute video available for viewing on their website.  This clearly shows you how to get best use and maximum comfort from your Sleeper.

It doesn't use up valuable seat room

The obvious concern is that this device will take up valuable space and push you forward in your seat, jamming you up even more tightly against the seat in front of you.

In theory this is correct.  But, in practice, a different situation occurs.  When you are lying back in your seat, you slide forward on the seat cushion anyway.  The 1st Class Sleeper does not push you appreciably further forward, it merely fills in the empty space behind you (which would otherwise stress your lower back and cause you discomfort) and wraps slightly around the side of you.

This seems like 'something for nothing' - more comfort and padding, but not taking up more space!  Maybe it is.  But, unquestionably, the Sleeper makes your journey more comfortable while you're trying to sleep, without wasting valuable seat space.

Other Issues

The Sleeper can also be used for lumbar support alone.  You only blow 3-4 breaths into it, fold it in half, and it fits between your lower back and the seat.

The inflation tube was easy to blow into and easy to open and close.  Many of the small inflatable neck collars have horrible inflation tubes - too small to easily blow into, and a plug to close it which keeps slipping out.  The Sleeper tube is of a good size and has a screw valve to open and securely close.

The nylon construction of the 1st Class Sleeper seems to be robustly managed, and has the same types of welds as you'd find on a water bed mattress, making it resilient and likely to last a long time without puncturing.

In addition to the video and the instruction card, there are also instructions printed on the Sleeper itself (triple redundancy - Bob's pilot training and caution is obvious, here!), making it easy to quickly re-familiarize yourself with the unit if it is a few months since you last used it and you somehow forgot the simple concept of unfold, inflate, enjoy.

Bob says the Sleeper acts as a cushion and shock-absorber and so reduces the effect of turbulence.  I have yet to be using it during a period of strong turbulence, so can't comment.


The unit is available on Amazon for slightly less than $30, making it a great value and very little to pay for appreciably improved comfort.


This is one of these wonderful and simple 'why didn't someone think of this before' type devices that really do help make a long plane flight more comfortable.

At a cost of about $30, depending on where you buy the 1st Class Sleeper, it is the best investment in improving the comfort of your journey you'll ever make.  But if you want something lighter, simpler, and less 'obvious', you might want to also consider the innovatively designed TravelRest travel pillow.


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Originally published 9 Apr 2004, last update 21 Jul 2020

You may freely reproduce or distribute this article for noncommercial purposes as long as you give credit to me as original writer.

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