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taking gel based seat cushions on the airplane

I bought the Wondergel Fold-N-Go seat cushion from the Gel Cushion Store (via Amazon) to use on the flight to and from Europe. Because it is gel, I am concerned that I may not be permitted to bring it on the plane.
I wonder if anyone has used that product, or one like it, on a long flight. Does anyone know if such a product can even be taken on the airplane?

Posted by
21647 posts

I am sure it will be OK if it can go through the x-ray and nothing strange shows up. But why carry a seat cushion through out Europe?

Posted by
19 posts

I want to be able to sleep some on the transatlantic flight, and this should make sitting that long comfortable enough to do that. We will stay in hotels for several days each, and use a roller suitcase, so hauling this shouldn't make that job noticeably more difficult. (I hope)

Posted by
21647 posts

I have heard of neck pillows aiding with sleeping but never a seat cushion. At the moment I cannot imagine how a seat cushion would help other than the increased elevation might add a touch more leg room. Have you had prior experience with a seat cushion on international flights? Most interested in how it might work. Looking for anything that might work.

Posted by
19 posts

If I sit for a long time, I get uncomfortable, and that discomfort keeps me awake. My only long flight was on Icelandic air and their seats felt like plywood. So, if I feel less discomfort, the flight will be less unpleasant and I may be able to catnap some. I expect that even if American Airlines has better cushioning than Icelandic did on their seats, the seats will still get uncomfortabIe over a 10 hour flight. I just was concerned that TSA would not allowed a gel filled seat cushion, because they limit to 3.2 oz. any liquids or gels.
My wife and I are not carrying backpacks, but are using carry-on wheeled suitcases, so technically we will not be carrying this cushion ( which weighs 3 or 4 lbs.), just pulling it.

Posted by
518 posts

Neck pillows I've heard of, but not seat cushions, so I might look into this myself as I'm trying to make my long flights as comfortable as possible also. I typically don't use the blanket they give you, so instead I roll it up and use it for lumbar support.

Posted by
16883 posts

Just concerning the extra weight of this item, 3-4 pounds is not insignificant. When I use a wheeled bag, I still really notice how much it weighs, both when pulling in normal circumstances and when lifting over stairs in train stations, hotels, etc. Pre-packing your bag and carrying it around is always a good test. But worst case scenario would be that you take something and decide later to ditch it.

Posted by
5774 posts

A self-inflating air seat cushion is probably lighter, can be more compact and would seem less likely to be a container for contraband.

http://www.rei.com/product/845302/rei-sit-pad

•Foam insulation is cross-cored and engineered to be lightweight and
compressible •Quick-closing, high-volume airflow valve allows the pad
to inflate and deflate quickly •75-denier polyester construction with
a hexagonal embossed surface provides durability and a nonslip
surface; 75-denier polyester bottom resists wear •Included stuff sack
protects pad during transport and ensures a compact parcel every time
Packed size 3.5 x 8 inches Dimensions 16.5 x 12 x 1.5 inches Weight 4.4 ounces

Posted by
27425 posts

You should be getting up and walking around every couple of hours to help guard against DVT, not sitting immobile for 10 hours.

My understanding is that the TSA agents all see things differently, and the more on the ball ones are looking out for new ways to smuggle bombs on board. If they are smart enough to figure out that a gel filled cushion has gell inside it they might be able to figure out that it contravenes the 3-1-1 rules and confiscate it.

I don't think that there are all that many who will fall for the "I'm not carrying it, I'm pulling it behind me" gag.

Security theatre it may be, but under all this it is a serious game they are playing. As the IRA once said, they [the security forces] have to be lucky every time, we only have to be lucky once.

I hope you have a comfortable safe flight.

Posted by
11613 posts

Nigel, I think the pulling-not-carrying comment referred to the object's weight.

Still, 3-4 pounds would be about 20% of what my suitcase weighs.

Posted by
518 posts

I vouch for the self-inflating cushions. I have a self-inflating sleep pad and the material is really very comfortable, rivaling that of gels.

Posted by
19 posts

My main concern was whether or not TSA would allow it on board. I want to use it to reduce pressure pain from sitting too long in a poorly cushioned seat. This product should reduce that particular type of pain/discomfort. I saw other products when I was looking on-line that were designed to help with lower back pain and/or tailbone compression pain. I appreciate the other insights offerred about hauling it around, but for me it would be worth it. If anyone else is looking for products to sit on during a long flight, for whatever reason, remember that the width of the airplane seat is about 17 in.

Posted by
3428 posts

I honestly doubt that the TSA will allow your pillow. They have gotten very strict recently with all the scares and shootings, etc. So, if you try and they don't allow it, are you willing to toss it? That's what you'd have to do if you get to security and they don't allow it. Also, do you have a plan B? If so, what is it? Could you go with it instead? The idea of a blow up pillow is a good one. You could adjust it at different time in the flight, if needed, and that could actually give you more relief as it would change the position of the pressure points. I fully understand your concern, as I sometimes have difficulty sitting for long periods, too. Maybe you could get your physician to write a letter that describes your pillow as a medical device? That might help.

Posted by
21647 posts

I use an inflatable lumbar support. That is critical for me. Haven't been on AA or Icelandic but all of the seat cushions in the others have been fine. Never noticed any discomfort from the seat cushion but the seat back is something else. However the 3, 4 lb of extra weight would bother me since it would be adding a good 20% or more to my total weight. That is not insignificant for me. Would be interested in your comments after the trip.

Posted by
12924 posts

I agree the gel is likely to be suspect and may get declined.

I suggest you return the gel cushion to Amazon and get a ThermaRest seat pad, such as this:

http://www.cascadedesigns.com/therm-a-rest/seating/seats/camp-seat/product

It is 16x16 and inflatable but has foam too. There is a smaller thinner version too. We use their sleeping pads for camping and I can vouch for their comfort. They are available from many sources like REI etc. and probably Amazon as well.

Posted by
1929 posts

I'd also be shocked if an item like that would make it thru security screening. Liquids and gels are just that, regardless of the container in which they are housed.

Posted by
19 posts

Thanks everybody. I've ordered the therm-a-rest that Lola suggested. Will test it out. the gel feels great when I use it, but I can't risk having it tossed, and then have nothing to use on the plane. The lower weight is an advantage, too. Thanks again for all your ideas.

Posted by
1055 posts

I have a TSA app that is useful in determining what can be taken on board, checked-in, or left home. Gel seat cushions must be checked-in and not taken on board.

Posted by
1094 posts

I think you will be stopped, but anything might happen.

Personally I use an inflatable neck pillow, which I inflate about half and then sit on. The hole for the neck is very nice for the lower part of my spine, which gets intolerably sore if I sit on it for more than three hours a day.

And yes: get up and walk around - or make some other exercises for your leg muscles :-)

Posted by
607 posts

Just bought a gel/memory foam seat cushion for my office chair. Nice and comfortable, but is heavy and not compressable. I would not want to carry it. Perhaps you can just ask for a couple of extra blankets and fold them into a seat cushion.