Is there a pillow as useless as the U-shaped travel neck pillow? There is not. This half-ovate, toilet-seat cover-esque object reigns as King of Travel Accessories, while failing miserably at its intended sole use. It is a scourge for reasons that I will outline in this essay and of which, by the end, I will convince you without question.
This past summer, I had occasion to travel by plane with such a pillow—memory foam in a pleasant maroon—and did so thoughtlessly, stuffing it into my carry-on as if it were my passport, or a book to ignore while watching, God willing, episodes of Sex and the City on the tiny television. When it came time to attempt sleep I, like many of my fellow passengers, dutifully placed the U-shaped pillow on my shoulders. As my neck protruded an uncomfortable distance from the seat back, I let my head fall to my left. No good. I let my head fall to my right. No good. I scrunched the pillow up, so it was more like a tiny, oddly-shaped normal pillow, but the damn thing kept bouncing back to U-shape, which, by design, has a hole in it, so that was definitely no good.
This damn pillow was no good.
It might come as a shock to you to hear someone speak the truth about U-shaped neck pillows so plainly, as this sort of pillow has been allowed to exist unchecked since it was patented in 1929. I understand and will allow you a moment to compose yourself. Have you taken it? Okay. The U-shaped neck pillow is an unsupportive abomination; a pernicious, deceitful, recklessly ubiquitous travel trinket lulling the masses not to sleep but to a zombielike restlessness for which they have been trained to blame themselves, i.e., “I can’t sleep on airplanes.” The U-shaped travel neck pillow is a useless trash pillow for nobody.