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Make Your Own Damn Legroom With This Padded Airplane Footrest

Sleepy Ride Airplane Footrest (Black) | $11 | Amazon
Graphic: Chelsea Stone

I’m not someone who has much difficulty when it comes to air travel. Sitting in airplane seats doesn’t cause me much physical discomfort. I can usually fall asleep while in-flight. And I’m passionate about avoiding physical and/or eye contact with my seat mates, because I was taught to fear strangers. To me, flying is sort of like getting your teeth cleaned or waiting in line at the post office: not fun, but also not torture, and you’re happy when it’s over.

I never really thought to improve upon this mediocre mode of transport until I was introduced to the Sleepy Ride Airplane Footrest, an innovation in air travel that doesn’t necessarily transform flying into a delightful experience, but definitely makes it more...luxurious? Or at least, less taxing on the body. It’s basically a hammock for your feet that claims to lessen lower back pain, prevent leg stiffness, and combat the leg swelling so many of us experience after sitting in one position in an aluminum tube for hours on end. And on those points, Sleepy Ride delivers.

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Graphic: Amazon

Design-wise, Sleepy Ride is dead simple: a long strip of memory foam-padded fabric, with a strap on each end that connects via an adjustable buckle. The whole thing slides over your tray table and hangs off its metal arms, so your feet can hang in the foot sling whether the tray is up or down. And between flights, it’s also compact and squishy enough to roll up and stuff into your carry-on.

The footrest earned its keep in my eyes on a recent trip from New York to Las Vegas, with a total flight time of about 10 hours roundtrip. It nestled easily in my large Dagne Dover Landon Carryall, and while I was anxious that it might be bothersome to the person seated in front of me (see: my aforementioned fear of strangers), no one around me seemed to even notice it was there.

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There’s not really an exact science as to which part of your leg the footrest is meant to support. The product photos on Amazon indicate that placing the bottoms of your feet in the footrest with the straps elongated is just as acceptable as shortening the straps and hiking the footrest up to calf-height. (You may also need to factor in your height, and how much stuff you crammed in the space under the seat in front of you to find your optimal position.) I actually really liked how both ways felt, and I probably figured out some new ways to use it while fidgeting around, too.

And that’s the point, I guess: The Sleepy Ride’s greatest virtue is its ability to adjust at will. After all, you may not be able to do anything about the lack of personal space on your flight, or the recirculated air, or the weird bathroom situation. But the positioning of your own legs? That you can control, finally, for under $15.

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