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Is This the Way to Find Privacy on Economy Flights?

It might make you look like a big, misanthropic baby, but this head sling for fliers promises solitude and comfort.

Idan Noyberg/Gal Bulka

“Privacy” and “comfort” are not words often associated with flying, especially if you're flying economy. You're about as likely to have a relaxed journey as you are to find Samuel L. Jackson hollering about boa constrictors (and even that might be preferable to a symphony of bawling babies).

But two Jerusalem-based designers – Idan Noyberg and Gal Bulka, the same team behind those solar-powered clothespins – have come up with a device that promises to turn irritating flights into smooth cruises to dreamland. It has everything: privacy, headrests, storage spaces. And it's only drawbacks are possible major safety concerns and making its user look like a big, antisocial baby in a big-baby sling.

The "B-Tourist Slip" is a ring of elastic fabric that folds easily into your luggage. Once on the plane, whip it out to slip one end over the seat headrest in front and another over your own, creating a 360 wall of cloth that you can rest your weary noggin against. Folds in the fabric accommodate personal items like phones and glasses, and sliding rings lets you adjust the personal cave to your preferred width.

The designers say that the "Slip" offers people their "own private space to quietly eat, read a book, watch a movie and to sleep without being disturbed." And it does seem useful in the crowded cabin environment if you don't mind getting the stinkeye from other passengers, what with your miniature first-class curtain telling everyone to stay away. Possible drawbacks include limiting the ability of seatmates to use the bathroom, potentially violating FAA regulations about evacuation safety, and getting your head squeezed in a cloth vice when the person in front of you suddenly pulls his seat to an upright position.

There's also the possibility the "Slip" user could become entangled in the device like a fly in a spiderweb. (And then possibly entangle other passengers to create a writhing mass of struggling limbs.) And a critic might question the wisdom of wrapping cloth around your neck in a turbulence-prone vehicle:

Here are some more peeks at the "Slip" concept in action. It's not actually on the market quite yet, unlike that other device for misanthropic fliers, the Knee Defender”:

Images by Idan Noyberg and Gal Bulka via Designboom

About the Author

  • John Metcalfe
    John Metcalfe is CityLab’s Bay Area bureau chief, based in Oakland. His coverage focuses on climate change and the science of cities.