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ROAD TEST

Pillow talk

March 11, 2007|Rosemary McClure

Oh, to be in first class, where the Champagne flows freely and naptime is almost as soothing as falling asleep in the BarcaLounger back home. But we're not up there. We're back here in economy, the cattle-car section. Our knees are jammed against the seat back in front of us, beverage service means half a glass of warm soda, and naptime means we'll awaken with a stiff neck and legs locked in the pretzel position. Short of buying a first-class ticket, will anything ease a coach traveler's pain? Here's what our road tests on pillows and gadgets found.

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SUPPORT GROUP

First look: It's not surprising that Tempur-Pedic, the company known for its Swedish mattresses, also offers a travel item called ComfortPillow. The company advertises that its densely packed "micro-cushions" provide "plush and pressure-relieving comfort."

Likes and yikes: It was too thick to be comfortable as a neck pillow, so I tried it as a lumbar pillow. I liked it at first, but within 20 minutes, I had a crick in my back. Also, despite its relatively small size (10 by 14 inches), the pillow is heavy. I'd be tempted to toss it rather than cart it around in my luggage. But if you're a Tempur-Pedic fan, you might think it's worth the weight.

The 411: $80, (888) 811-5053; available at Tempur-Pedic stores and online at www.tempurpedic.com

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THE HOLD-'EM-UP

First look: I picked up a Spun-Gee travel pillow in one of the terminal shops at LAX. The puffy, horseshoeshaped pillows, available in many airport and travel shops, are filled with "super-fine microbeads" and claim to provide "ultimate neck support."

Likes and yikes: If you don't mind looking like a mule on its way to plow the south 40, this might be your pillow. The little beads provide a comfortable, squishy cushion for long or short necks. It's also lightweight and inexpensive. Yes, you'll look like a dweeb, but your neck might not hurt when you get to your destination.

The 411: About $15 at airport and travel shops.

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AIRLIFT

First look: The maker of 1st Class Sleeper calls it "a bed in the clouds." It seems like a good idea: a long cushion you inflate slightly -- it takes 10 to 12 breaths -- and place behind your back during a flight. It can be used full-length to keep your neck, shoulders and spine in alignment or can be folded in half and used as a lumbar pillow.

Likes and yikes: Everyone seated nearby turned to watch as I puffed air into this gizmo and stared as it grew bigger; later they turned around and glared when I deflated it and air hissed and whistled out its snout. In between, I propped it behind my back full-length, but it pushed me forward so far that my knees were scrunched against the seat back. It doesn't get my vote.

The 411: $29.95. Call (866) 766-6946 or see www.1stclasssleeper.com.

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SOFT LANDING

First look: The Duxiana Travel Pillow, from the people who make the luxe Dux bed, is a real pillow -- a wonderfully scrunchable white goose-down cushion encased in a 325 thread-count cotton pillowcase.

Likes and yikes: Skip the expensive plane ticket and buy this pillow instead. Then take it everywhere with you. It has a luxurious feel and is equally pleasing when used for a headrest, as back support or on your hotel bed. And it stuffs easily into its sack and tucks nicely in your carry-on.

The 411: $86, available at Duxiana stores or call (877) 389-2332 or see www.dux.com.

- Rosemary McClure

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