Are Pillows Allowed on Airplanes? All You Need to Know

Bringing a pillow with you on an airplane allows you to get some shut-eye. This is especially true if the flight is the long-haul kind. You can easily get your hands on a travel pillow that you can take with you to the airport and also on the plane itself.

However, its compact size may not be enough to give you the support and cushioning that you need. This is why it can be tempting to bring on a plane a standard-sized pillow.

So, are pillows allowed on airplanes? Yes, pillows are allowed on airplanes. Most airlines, however, only allow travel pillows. Larger ones may not be permitted inside the plane as they are safety risks. Passengers may also complain about their presence if they are invading their personal space. Different airlines have different pillow size limits.

Bringing a pillow on a plane may seem like it’s a simple matter. However, it’s not! With so many pillows to choose from and so many airline rules and regulations to follow, taking with you a pillow to your flight can easily become complicated.

Worry not because we’ve got your pillow-related concerns covered — below, you will come across some of the most important matters that you need to know about bringing pillows on airplanes.

Let’s Take a Quick Look at the Different Types of Pillows

Everyone knows that beds come in many different sizes. They range from single, twin, double, full, queen, king, and California king. Whew, that’s a lot of bed sizes to choose from!

Did you know that aside from beds, pillows also come in an array of sizes? They are available in varying dimensions to cater to the different levels of comfort and support that different people need.

For instance, what’s comfortable and supportive for an adult who is in the pink of health may not be the best for someone who has a joint injury. A pregnant woman may not be happy with the pillow that a non-pregnant woman finds great for sending her to dreamland.

Here are the different types of pillows according to size:

Standard-sized pillows

Most pillows in the market are 20 x 26 inches in size. This is exactly the reason why they are referred to as standard-sized pillows. Most likely, these are the pillows that you can find on your bed.

What’s really nice about standard-sized pillows is that their size makes them versatile. So, in other words, you can use them for a variety of purposes. Finding the right pillowcases for them is trouble-free, too, because they are readily available.

By the way, standard-sized pillows are available in a dizzying assortment of fillings. If you want the utmost support for your head and neck, consider those that are out of memory foam.

Queen pillows

Only a few inches separate queen pillows from standard pillows. Measuring 20 x 30 inches, it is possible to pack queen pillows inside pillowcases for standard-sized pillows.

This is a good idea, especially for individuals who prefer firmer pillows under their heads.

Doing this also allows for the use of pillows that can provide optimum support for the lower back, such as when reading a book or while traveling. However, the size of the queen pillows can keep them from being excellent travel companions.

What’s more, some airlines may not allow them inside the plane — we will discuss this further, later on, so don’t stop reading now.

King pillows

Compared to queen pillows, king pillows are longer. They measure 20 x 36 inches. Two king pillows can be placed side by side at the head of a king-sized bed, and that is why they are referred to as such.

Because of the added inches to their length, they are excellent for individuals who need extra support while sleeping. Some common examples are those who have joint and muscle pain. Pregnant women may benefit from their use, too.

Very soft king pillows may be crammed inside queen-size pillowcases. However, firmer ones can fit in no other pillowcases but those that are specifically made for these pillows.

Body pillows

Commonly, body pillows are excellent sleeping companions for women who are in the family way. That’s because their large size allows them to accommodate the changing bodies of women throughout their pregnancy.

However, body pillows are not only great for pregnant women. Individuals who feel comfy hugging massive pillows at bedtime can benefit from them, too. Body pillows are generally twice the length of standard-sized pillows, usually measuring 54 inches in length.

Needless to say, it can be extremely challenging to find the right pillowcases for body pillows because of their sheer length.

Toddler-sized pillows

Measuring 13 x 18 inches only, toddler-sized pillows are the perfect pillows for small kids as they can easily carry around these sleep essentials, whether traveling or while at the day-care center.

Toddler-sized pillows fall under the category of low-loft pillows or pillows that are short in height as they lay flat on beds. This helps ensure that children who are using them will get the right amount of neck support.

Travel pillows

Last but not least, there are travel pillows. They are great for traveling, just like what the name suggests, because they are compact and portable.

Usually, travel pillows measure 12 x 16 inches, making them trouble-free to stash in a backpack. Aside from rectangle ones, travel pillows also come in a variety of shapes.

A lot of people who travel and use travel pillows prefer those whose fillings are microbeads as they provide a lot of comfort and support, too. There are many other fillings that manufacturers use.

Which one is the best depends greatly on the preference of the user?

The size is not the only consideration when shopping for a pillow. There is one more thing that you should take into account, too, and it’s what we are going to discuss next.

Different Pillow Types According to What’s Placed Inside

Aside from the size, the categorization of pillows can also be according to the materials inside them — the fillings. There are so many different fillings that manufacturers of pillows use these days. Some examples are:

  • Memory foam. In this day and age, perhaps no other filling is preferred by many than memory foam, even if it’s not cheap. That because it conforms to the shoulders, neck, and head extremely well.
  • Shredded foam. Are you unhappy with a pillow with memory foam because it doesn’t seem to provide enough support? Then feel free to opt for a pillow with a shredded regular foam filling.
  • Hypoallergenic. This is the right pillow for you if you tend to suffer from allergies. Just like what the name says, this type of filling is less likely to cause an allergic reaction or flare-up.
  • Latex. Individuals who have allergies may also opt for latex, which is known to be firm and provide plenty of support. However, those with a latex allergy should stay away from this filling.
  • Feathers. Do you want your pillow to be extremely soft? Then go for one that is filled with feathers. There’s also something that is filled with down, which is a layer of fine feathers found under exterior feathers.
  • Microbeads. Aside from feathers, microbeads are used for making really soft pillows, too. However, they also provide just the right amount of firmness for proper support for your neck and head.

As you can see, each filling has its own set of advantages to offer. Some of them have a few disadvantages, too. When choosing a pillow according to its filling, make sure that you identify what your priorities are when spending time in bed so that you may be able to pick the right one for you.

All About Neck Pillows and Inflatable Pillows

Your pillow choices do not begin and end with the ones that we mentioned above. You may also come across a couple of types of pillows that may seem like they’re excellent for traveling. They are neck pillows and inflatable pillows.

Just like what it’s called pretty much explains, neck pillows are pillows that are specifically designed to support your neck in a natural position when you are sleeping while seated in a car or on a plane.

They come in the shape of the letter U, although these days, neck pillows tend to come in a handful of other shapes, too. Definitely, you can bring with you a neck pillow to a plane, just like what a lot of those who fly do.

That’s because neck pillows are small enough to be placed neatly in carry-ons, or carried around by hand. Most of them can also be deflated when not in use, thus allowing them to save a lot of precious space in the luggage.

Speaking of which, some pillows aside from those that are for supporting the neck are inflatable, too.

Airlines allow their passengers to take with them these types of pillows, provided that they do not exceed the allowed sizes — we will discuss this matter in a few, so make sure that you keep on reading!

However, inflatable cushions that kids may use when occupying a couple of seats while they’re sleeping are not permitted inside planes.

That’s because they can potentially get in the way of the passengers in case of an emergency in which everybody has to evacuate the plane without delay.

So, in other words, inflatable cushions for children as well as massive inflatable pillows for adults are considered as safety risks — their presence may pose some danger to the passengers.

Some people are advised by their respective doctors to use seat cushions or sometimes referred to as ring pillows or donut pillows.

This is especially true for those with problems that concern their tailbone, or those who have hemorrhoids. With the use of seat cushions, they will find it more bearable to remain seated for hours.

If you need to use a seat cushion for a medical reason, you may bring it on an airplane. However, just see to it that it will properly fit in the seat. These days, a typical economy seat has a width that measures 17.5 inches to 18 inches.

Are Pillows Allowed on Airplanes: Everything That You Need to Know

Especially if you fly frequently, you already have an idea of how uncomfortable economy seats are these days. Not only are the seats small, but all the seats are pressed against one another, and there is very small legroom available.

This is why long-haul flights can be a nightmarish experience, especially if you are overweight or you are seated next to someone who is obese — nothing can make a cramped seat feel even tighter when certain body parts of an overweight seatmate are pressing against you throughout the flight!

Being on a plane for hours can become easier to bear if you have with you a pillow, which is something that you can hug when you are feeling cold, and rest your head on when you are feeling tired or sleepy.

Most airlines won’t stop you from bringing a neck pillow or travel pillow. This is especially true if they are not providing their passengers pillows and blankets.

Many years ago, it was quite common for all the passengers to be handed with some sleep essentials by the flight attendants. These days, unfortunately, this rarely happens due to cutting costs and also because of the fact that plane seats these days are smaller and tighter than before.

This is why most airlines find it perfectly fine for their passengers to bring with them neck pillows or travel pillows.

However, bringing a pillow with you on a plane can be an issue if the size is too big for the taste of the airline company.

You may be questioned the minute that someone who works for the airline sees you lugging around a standard-sized pillow or a larger one. That’s because a massive pillow can pose some danger, especially when there’s a need for all the passengers to evacuate the plane without delay.

Some of the passengers may also complain, especially if your gigantic pillow is occupying their personal space.

Generally, airlines will consider a pillow as a personal item — you are allowed to bring on a plane one personal item and one carry-on.

If you wish to take with you a standard-sized pillow, it will be considered as a personal item if it won’t fit inside your backpack, which counts as your carry-on.

But if your pillow does not fit inside your bag, then it will serve as your personal item. Needless to say, you are no longer allowed to have another personal item.

Personal Item and Carry-On Size Limits

When it comes to what can be regarded as a personal item and a carry-on, rules tend to vary from one airline to the next. Different airlines nowadays have different size limits when it comes to the things that you could bring inside their planes.

It’s important to be aware of size limits to avoid unnecessary stress.

Let’s check out the personal item and carry-on size limits that some major airlines impose:

  • Alaska Airlines      Carry-on: 22 x 14 x 9 inches Personal item: not specified
  • American Airlines  Carry-on: 22 x 14 x 9 inches Personal item: 18 x 14 x 8 inches
  • British Airways      Carry-on: 22 x 18 x 10 inches           Personal item: 16 x 12 x 6 inches
  • Delta Airlines        Carry-on: 22 x 14 x 9 inches Personal item: not specified
  • Emirates             Carry-on: 21.7 x 15 x 7.9 inches        Personal item: not specified
  • JetBlue               Carry-on: 22 x 14 x 9 inches Personal item: 17 x 13 x 8 inches
  • Lufthansa            Carry-on: 21.7 x 15.75 x 9 inches      Personal item: 15.75 x 11.8 x 4 inches
  • Norwegian           Carry-on: 21.7 x 15.75 x 9 inches      Personal item: 11.8 x 7.9 x 15 inches
  • Qantas               Carry-on: 22 x 14 x 9 inches Personal item: not specified
  • Southwest           Carry-on: 24 x 16 x 10 inches           Personal item: 18.5 x 13.5 x 8.5 inches
  • Spirit Airlines        Carry-on: 22 x 18 x 10 inches           Personal item: 18 x 14 x 8 inches
  • United Airlines      Carry-on: 22 x 14 x 9 inches Personal item: 17 x 10 x 9 inches
  • WestJet              Carry-on: 21 x 15 x 9 inches Personal item: 16 x 13 x 6 inches

As you can see, different airlines have different size limits for carry-on and personal items.

If you want to bring with you a pillow and you are certain that it’s not travel-sized, it is a good idea to get in touch with your airline a few days before your flight to know what its policies are when it comes to pillow sizes.

Other Sleep Companions That You May Also Take With You

For some people, having a pillow that comes in the right size and offers the right amount of support is enough to make it easier for them to get some shut-eye while on an airplane.

With the right travel pillow, they are able to spend most of the hours during a long-haul flight sleeping, which is great for beating stress associated with packing and preparing for a trip. Having enough sleep allows them to get to the destination, looking fresh and feeling energized.

While on a plane, it’s not just support that you need to enjoy much-needed sleep. You also need to protect yourself from certain things that can keep you from snoring in the first place, such as the cold cabin air and noisy passengers.

Making sure that you have them in your carry-on helps see to it that you are not going to have a hard time falling asleep.

Below are some sleep must-haves that you may bring with you on a plane. Because they are allowed by airlines, see to it that you grab the opportunity of bringing them as well as using them when necessary.

  • Sleep mask
  • Earplugs
  • Noise-canceling headphones
  • Pocket music or audiobook player
  • Travel blanket or a large scarf
  • Extra socks
  • Melatonin or any other OTC sleep aid

Just Before You Pack Your Bags and Head to the Airport

Especially if you are about to take a long-haul flight, a pillow can help you catch some much-needed Z’s. It is generally a wonderful idea to bring with you a travel pillow, the kind that is small and the airline will permit inside the cabin.

If you prefer a standard-sized pillow, see to it that it can be placed inside your carry-on. But to be safe, consider getting in touch with the airline before your flight so that unnecessary stress can be kept at bay.

Image attribution:

Reed Harris

Reed is a traveler and blogger. He's planning to visit all states in the USA. He's been in 31 states so far.

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