Air travel is miserable. Aside from all the hassles of getting on the plane, once you’re in your cramped little seat it becomes difficult to do anything but sit upright, elbows tucked, and wait for the journey to be over.
In testament to what a nightmare it is, a Kickstarter campaign for a “travel jacket” designed to make flying more comfortable has become the crowd-funding site’s most successful clothing campaign ever.
The jacket has gotten a good deal of press over the past several weeks, and as of Sep. 2, it has gained more than 40,000 backers pledging in excess of $8 million. The jacket’s creator, Chicago-based company BauBax, only originally set out to gather $20,000. The pledges are ticking up every minute.
The jacket’s retail price starts at $160 (plus taxes/shipping). It comes in four different styles—sweatshirt, windbreaker, bomber, and blazer—and boasts 15 features targeting the varied torments of air travel, though they’re useful for any kind of travel really. Among them are earphone holders, an iPad pocket, a drink pocket that fits a can of soda, gloves that extend from the sleeves, a telescoping pen built into the front zipper that doubles as a stylus, a passport pocket, and a hood that includes an inflatable neck pillow and sleep mask.
The funding campaign’s success is an amazing feat for a jacket that is definitely more about utility than aesthetics, but it makes sense when you consider the constraints of flying.
Airline seats, for instance, are now 1.5 inches narrower than they used to be, and airlines are experimenting with hellish new methods of compressing passengers into planes, such as somehow squeezing in more seats per row, or even staggering the way seats face so that you could end up staring at the person next to you for your entire flight.
It’s no wonder British Airways offers passengers mindfulness exercises to de-stress. A jacket—or any innovative product—that allows economy fliers to achieve some sort of comfort and access to their essentials would be a hit.
The first batch of Kickstarter backers will get their jackets this month. The rest of the orders will start shipping in November, just in time for the busy holiday travel season.