SkyMall Monday: SkyRest Travel Pillow ACTUAL REVIEW

Over a year ago, I reviewed the SkyRest Travel Pillow for SkyMall Monday. It was the fourth product ever to get the SkyMall Monday treatment. In retrospect, it should have been first, as it is perhaps the most iconic SkyMall product ever. You proved that in our SkyMall Monday reader poll by voting it the Gadling reader favorite. In response to your overwhelming support of the SkyRest Travel Pillow, I vowed to give it a proper hands-on review. And I am proud to say that I have done just that. Earlier this month, I flew from LaGuardia to Ft. Lauderdale with the SkyRest to see just how comfortable it is. This, ladies and gentlemen, is a very special SkyMall Monday. Here is my actual review of the SkyRest Travel Pillow.

I should start by noting that I am a champion sleeper on all moving vehicles. No drugs. No pillows. Just my iPod, my “Sleep” playlist and, well, that’s it. I often fall asleep before takeoff. I’ve slept on Cessnas. I’ve slept in window seats next to the engine. I’ve slept in 4WD trucks on unsealed roads. So, using a pillow as a sleep aid is something of a foreign concept to me. That said, I approached the SkyRest with an open mind and vowed to put it to a proper test.

The SkyRest is inflatable, and when deflated it packs down to a relatively small size. I say relatively, because when it’s inflated, it’s big. But I’ll get to that momentarily. While it won’t take up a significant amount of room in your luggage, it won’t slip into a pocket either. If you are a casual or business traveler who isn’t overly concerned about minimizing the size of your gear, then the SkyRest’s deflated size shouldn’t be an issue. If you’re a backpacker, however, it will probably take up too much real estate no matter how much you compact it.

Inflation of the SkyRest is remarkably quick and easy. The valve prevents air from escaping while you are inflating the pillow, which helps you avoid the two steps forward, one step back drama that comes with inflating many pillows or sleep pads. Despite it’s immense size (again, we’re getting to that), the pillow fully inflates in under a minute. That is not an exaggeration. In one minute, the SkyRest goes from an awkwardly folded amorphous blob to a fully inflated travel pillow. And I was neither lightheaded nor winded upon completion.

Now, about the size. It is big. I mean, really big. It’s 14″ wide, 12″ deep, 11″ high in the front and 17″ high in the rear. Even Jenna Jameson thinks it’s big. The instructions make a point of recommending that you sit in a window seat to avoid blocking your seatmates from getting to the aisle. I defied this logic and booked my normal aisle seat on the flight to Ft. Lauderdale. I’m a jerk, but we’re not reviewing my behavior. We’re testing the SkyRest.

When I inflated it on my flight south, I felt compelled to warn my neighbors in advance. “Hi, I’m, um, about to inflate a very large travel pillow. It’s really big. If you need to get by me, you may want to do that now.” The man next to me nodded and then asked if he could squeeze past me. He never returned. He actually changed seats before even seeing the fully inflated pillow.

The pillow quickly inflated and I rested it on my knees. Depending on your height and preferred sleeping position, you can balance the pillow on your knees or the tray table. The SkyRest is quite comfortable and, since it’s inflatable, you can adjust the firmness to your liking. The angled top resembles a human buttocks, but don’t let that deter you from resting your head on it. The microfiber texture is soft and smooth, so there is no risk of chafing. There is, however, a real risk of being mocked. And stared at. People were looking (and giggling) at the SkyRest and me as if I had six heads.

I attempted to sleep with the pillow on both of my flights and found that the act of leaning forward to sleep just wasn’t for me. I tend to sleep on planes (and trains, automobiles and hovercrafts) in an upright position. Healthy or not, it’s what is comfortable for me. I found leaning forward with the SkyRest for any length of time placed undue strain on my neck and upper back. Thus, the SkyRest did not provide me with much comfort. Eventually, I had to deflate the pillow and stow it away to allow myself to actually get some sleep in my normal seated position.

That said, several people on both of my flights expressed that they preferred to sleep on planes while leaning forward. Once they got over the immense size of the SkyRest, they were open to the idea of a travel pillow that wasn’t simply a neck support. They seemed willing to perceive the SkyRest not as a novelty, but as a real alternative to traditional travel pillows. And, I completely agree with them.

Everyone’s sleep habits are different. The SkyRest Travel Pillow isn’t for me. But it’s for someone. For lots of people, actually. Assuming, of course, that those people also have plenty of room in their luggage, an affinity for being stared at and own garish Hawaiian shirts.*

* I do not own a Hawaiian shirt, so I made sure to wear my loudest shirt in an attempt to replicate the proper SkyRest experience. I hope I met your expectations.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

SkyMall Monday: Reader Favorite

Kia ora from New Zealand. I’m in the Southern Hemisphere for the fourth time this year since Spring is better than Fall and I wanted to miss the first sign of snow in New York City. I also wanted to take a long trip to maximize my time with the new SkyMall catalog (more on that later). While I may be away, I have been monitoring last week’s SkyMall Monday reader poll very closely. I was flattered, humbled and honored at the outpouring of responses. It’s been a thrilling ride over the last twelve months as I’ve explored the nooks and crannies of the Skymall catalog and I’m glad that you’ve enjoyed it so much. The competition was fierce and people had strong opinions about which SkyMall Monday was their favorite. It was a good, clean fight and in the end, I think we were the biggest winner. I mean, SkyMall has solved all the problems that we never knew we had! That said, I was a tad surprised by the results of the poll. I expected a much closer competition, but instead we had a very decisive winner. So, what was your favorite SkyMall Monday of the feature’s first year?Well, if the picture above hasn’t tipped you off by now, you may want to consider wearing a helmet when you’re out in public. Ladies and gentleman, the reader’s choice for favorite SkyMall Monday is the SkyRest Travel Pillow!

Almost 300 of you voted and nearly 35% of you preferred the subtle comfort of the SkyRest Travel Pillow. The Cruzin Cooler placed second, followed by the Wine Glass Holder Necklace, Double Umbrella and Baseball Bat Pepper Grinder. If I was a betting man (and I’m not ever since I lost an eye gambling on Canadian elk wrestling), I would have put my money on the Wine Glass Holder Necklace. That innovative product holds the distinction of being the only SkyMall item that my stepmother has banned me from purchasing for her as a gift. But your choice makes sense: this is a travel blog and the SkyRest Travel Pillow is clearly the most sensible and convenient way to fly, sleep and be a massive douchebag with minimal effort.

More than 200 readers commented on last week’s post and entered to win the $100 SkyMall gift card. One lucky contestant will be notified this week that his or her prize is on the way. I hope they will use its power for good and let us know what problem was solved by our favorite catalog. I’ll keep you posted.

And, to celebrate the SkyRest Travel Pillow’s overwhelming victory, I am now prepared to make a very special announcement right here in SkyMall Monday. I am going to honor your selection by purchasing one SkyRest Travel Pillow for myself and giving it a proper test run and review which I will then share with you. I’ll even make sure to use it while in an aisle seat to properly utilize its bathroom-blocking abilities. Stay tuned for that after allowing 4-6 weeks for delivery!

It’s been a great first year and we have much to look forward to over the coming weeks and month. But first, I’ll be diving into the brand new Holiday 2009 SkyMall catalog looking for my favorite new addition. Check back next week when I’ll be back in the States and prepared to share my choice for best new SkyMall product.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

SkyMall Monday: Anniversary Gift Card Giveaway

Get the champagne on ice, don your finest party hat and put out a cheese plate, because today we are celebrating the ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY OF SKYMALL MONDAY! On October 13, 2008, Gadling charged me with delivering to you, our dear readers, one SkyMall product review per week. Did I want that responsibility? Yes. Do I enjoy doing it? Of course. Should I be celebrated for it? Absolutely. But you know who else should reap the benefits of our weekly SkyMall dalliances? You! So, to celebrate the first anniversary of SkyMall Monday, we’re giving away a $100 gift card to…SKYMALL!

First things first. Let’s take a walk down memory lane and look at some of the best products featured in SkyMall Monday over the past 12 months. From massive travel pillows to motorized coolers to umbrellas built for two, I’ve reviewed plenty of amazing gear that you most certainly now own. And to make things interesting, we have a poll to decide which SkyMall Monday was your favorite.

After the jump, a look back at some of our favorites and your chance to win that $100 SkyMall gift card.

  • SkyRest Travel Pillow Do you like sleeping on planes and being an asshole? Then why not block everyone sitting next to you from using the restroom while you sleep on a giant wedge of cheese balanced on your lap.
  • Baseball Bat Pepper GrinderYou love baseball. You love seasoning. You feel insecure about the size of your penis. You own this.
  • Wine Glass Holder NecklaceAs the old saying goes, “Keep your friends close and your functional alcoholism closer.”
  • The Double UmbrellaOne of the first SkyMall Mondays remains one of my favorites. What better way to avoid the rain and show everyone from your old high school that you’re not Most Likely to Die Alone? (Note: It appears that SkyMall no longer sells the Double Umbrella. This is a travesty!)
  • Cruzin CoolerIf your cooler had sex with a go-kart and gave birth after the typical ice chest gestation period of four months, the doctor would slap this bad boy on the ass, fill it with Schlitz and ride it down to Daytona Beach.

Now for the fun stuff. Vote for your favorite SkyMall Monday in our poll below and leave us a comment letting us know how you voted. Read the legal muckety muck for more details, but one very lucky commenter will be picked at random to receive a $100 SkyMall gift card!

To enter the contest for the chance to win the $100 SkyMall gift card:

  • Simply leave a comment below telling us which SkyMall Monday you voted for.
  • The comment must be left before Friday, October 16, 2009 at 5:00PM Eastern Time.
  • You may enter only once.
  • One winner will be selected in a random drawing.
  • This random winner will receive a SkyMall gift card worth $100.
  • Click here for complete Official Rules.
  • Open to legal residents of the 50 United States, including the District of Columbia who are 18 and older.

Special thanks to Joey O’Donnell and all the folks at SkyMall for the gift card and for having a sense of humor.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

SkyMall Monday: Top 10 SkyMall Mondays of 2008

2008 was a big year for SkyMall Monday in that, you know, I created SkyMall Monday in 2008. We laughed, we cried, we grew as people. But mostly we just laughed. With the new year just days away and with everyone and their mother posting year-end top 10 lists, this week seemed perfect for a look back at the Top 10 SkyMall Mondays of 2008. So, grab your credit card, throw logic out the window and come along on a magical ride through some highlights from our favorite mile-high catalog.

10. TimeMug – Certainly many of you have made a new year’s resolution to get yourselves organized. Well, what better way to get your life in order than to have a clock on your coffee mug? You may have left your watch at home and forgotten your phone in the car, but your latte will know exactly how late you are for your meeting.

9. Slumber Sleeve – Easily the second-best pillow of the two pillows SkyMall Monday reviewed this year! The Slumber Sleeve allows contortionists and husbands who have been forced to sleep on the couch to maintain bloodflow to their extremities. It’s a niche market, but the Slumber Sleeve really filled it up good and tight.
8. Flair Hair Visor
– As a bald man, I’m typically offended by anything that makes us aerodynamic individuals feel as if we should hide our glorious domes. But when you come across a product that is so dignified and subtle, you can’t help but promote it. The Flair Hair Visor says, “I have such tremendous self-esteem that I am certain you must be pointing at me and laughing as a gesture of respect.” I accept your compliments.

7. Portable Desk – You’re a man (or woman) on the go and you just have to work, work, work! But there’s nowhere to sit as you wander around the coffee shop/airport/freeway. What do you do? Well, you strap it on. (Note: Thank you to my editor who looks the other way when I use that phrase).

6. Noseaid – When you care enough about your child to put a clothespin on his nose and then just walk away.

5. SkyRest Travel Pillow – Getting comfortable in a cramped airplane seat can be tough. Trying to sleep in that seat is even tougher. You could try a neck pillow, but they’re so small, convenient and easy to carry. What you need is something so obtrusive that everyone knows that you’ll be sleeping through the drink service. You need a giant wedge that will block your neighbors from going to the bathroom. You need the SkyRest Travel Pillow.

4. Double Umbrella – Keeping two people dry in the rain is the world’s oldest problem. Sure you could buy a golf umbrella, but then you’d be a giant douchebag. You could carry around multiple umbrellas, but then you’d have the hassle of keeping then both up in bad weather. Or, you could own the world’s first umbrella built for two people who like each other but not enough to stand close together under one umbrella.

3. NECKpro Traction Device – Tethering yourself to a door is never a bad idea. So what better way to alleviate neck and back pain than to strap yourself to a door and crank yourself away from stress? And what a handsome design! Frankly, I’ll find any excuse I can to run this photo repeatedly.

2. The Slanket – As I began compiling this list, I thought for sure that The Slanket would end up in the number one spot. How could it not? It’s the original blanket with sleeves! I even spent an hour completely entranced by the incredibly cheesie Slanket website. But at the end of the day, I’m just not a blanket guy. I prefer to put on a sweatshirt. Our flaunt my tremendous wealth by turning on the heat.

1. Cruzin CoolerMany people have blamed the collapse of the Big Three U.S. automakers on their lack on innovation. Well, one amazing advancement in transportation has recently come from the great minds of America’s business leaders. I speak, of course, of the Cruzin Cooler. Part cooler. Part go-kart. All awesome. It holds 24 12-ounce cans and has a top speed of 13 miles per hour. But it’s not about the numbers. Facts and figures are so cold and emotionless. SkyMall Monday is about people. I believe in bringing you hope and joy and warmth. To that end, just look how pleased these Cruzin Cooler owners look.

Happy New Year, SkyMall Maniacs. See you in 2009 with a whole new batch of products designed to make our lives more magical.

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.

SkyMall Monday: SkyRest Travel Pillow

I suppose it’s about time that I used my SkyMall Monday bully pulpit to review a product that is directly related to travel. Sure, you could use the Double Umbrella on a trip to London, but what about when you’re en route to your destination? How will you arrive there well-rested and prepared to make the most of your time away from your empty, passionless life? Well, you’ll rest easy on your flight if you have the SkyRest Travel Pillow.

You could certainly purchase an airline pillow covered in lice and chlamydia or carry along one of those horseshoe shaped neck pillows that scream, “I’m a loser.” But studies have shown that the human body’s natural sleeping position is seated upright while the head and neck are tilted forward at a 68.4 degree angle. What studies? Hey, look over there!

Available only in dark seafoam green, the SkyRest Travel Pillow is inconspicuous and allows you to sleep while your fellow travelers are none the wiser. And it’s inflatable, so you know you’ll sleep like a baby once you have exhausted yourself filling it with air. Considering that it’s 14″ wide, 12″ deep, 11″ tall in the front and 17″ tall in the back, you’ll most likely have it inflated in time for the person next to you to take her first bathroom break. At which time I’m sure you’ll easily be able to move it out of the way for her.

And the best part? Since it rests on your lap, when the person in front of you reclines his seat, the pillow will be pushed back into you. It’s like getting a face massage in a fancy spa…but for free!

Just look at what the product description has to say about this fantastic product:

Why not join our many thousands of satisfied customers and enjoy the benefits of this uniquely different and very flexible travel pillow.

Yes, people who use this product like to be influenced by peer pressure and abhor proper punctuation. And while I have never actually seen any of these satisfied customers in person, I am sure that this person wishes that she had purchased the SkyRest Travel pillow before her flight. Don’t make the same mistake she did!

Check out all of the previous SkyMall Monday posts HERE.