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Top 4 Compression Socks for Air Travel

Wearing graduated compression socks or stockings during your flights can help you avoid uncomfortable symptoms like swelling and fatigue. You'll also be protected against DVT.

Let's take a look at how and why this is true. 

Man and woman holding hands as they walk through airport terminal

Why does flying cause swelling?

Woman sitting on hotel bed rubbing her foot, wearing compression pantyhose

If you find that your feet and legs swell during air travel, don’t be alarmed. It’s a fairly common occurrence, mostly due to inactivity. You’d probably experience the same thing if you sit in your living room for hours without moving. And, airplane seats have no room to stretch out.

Sitting with your feet on the floor for long periods of time can cause blood and fluid to pool in your legs. The angle of your legs will also create excess pressure in your veins. The blood and fluid will have an easier time moving downwards, and a much harder job moving upwards.

Foot swelling in particular is a result of fluid separating from the blood and pooling in the soft tissue of the foot. Most of the time, this swelling is uncomfortable but harmless. If it does persist for several hours though, you can be at risk of a blood clot in your leg (Deep Vein Thrombosis).

This type of swelling should be especially alarming if you notice it in one leg more than the other. Things you can do on your flight to prevent swelling include:

Woman sitting in an airplane with her legs crossed

Avoid crossing your legs

Man walking down airplane aisle

Take a short walk every hour

Closeup view of woman rubbing her ankle

Flex your ankles and calves often

Glass of water sitting on an airplane tray table

Drink plenty of water

View of an airplane aisle; a woman wearing heels has her foot sticking out from the seat

Avoid wearing tight shoes or clothes

Woman standing with a suitcase at the ticket desk, wearing Sigvaris Style Microfiber Patterns compression socks in Pink Stripe

Find reliable compression socks that fit your needs

People who are already at risk for blood clots should be especially careful when traveling via airplane for long distances. And of course, always be prepared with your best compression socks or stockings for your trip.

How do compression socks and stockings help?

Although you don’t want to wear tight clothing on your trip, compression socks and stockings work a bit differently than a pair of skinny jeans.

Medical-grade compression socks and stockings in particular are designed to provide graduated compression up the leg. That means they are tighter near the ankle and gradually loosen vertically up the leg.

This graduated compression helps excess fluid and blood flow up your leg the way it’s naturally supposed to travel.

Animation demonstrating how graduated compression works

Medical-grade compression is recommended because it offers a compression level of 20-30mmHg. This compression level provides better benefits than over-the-counter compression socks, but doesn’t run the risk of being too tight and causing damage.

Even though many people focus on compression therapy for their long plane rides, you should consider wearing compression apparel for any kind of travel when you’re sitting for a long time. Car rides, train rides, or even a long layover may call for the use of compression apparel.

How to travel with compression socks

To help you with your next trip, here is a checklist of what you can do with your compression socks or stockings. Having a good routine for each flight can greatly decrease your stress and discomfort.

Best compression for air travel:

Now, let’s take a look at some of the many options you have for compression on your next trip:

Soft Silhouette Leggings

for women

For full-coverage compression and comfort, these leggings are a great option for travel. Wear them dressed up or down.

Woman standing at a draft desk, wearing Sigvaris Soft Silhouette compression leggings in Black

Essential Cotton Calf

for men

A great, everyday option for work travel. The cotton is lightweight and breathable, and they look great with casual or office attire. 

Man sitting in an armchair with a laptop, wearing Sigvaris Essential Cotton compression socks in Black

Style Sheer Pantyhose

for women

An excellent option for women who are traveling for work. This professional and comfortable option comes in a variety of colors.

Woman walking with a rolling suitcase, wearing Sigvaris Style Sheer compression pantyhose in Dark Navy

Athletic Recovery Socks

for women and men

This athletic variety will support you through the airport marathon and then help you recover too.

Woman in athletic clothing resting against a railing, wearing Sigvaris Athletic Recovery compression socks in Black

Traveling can be stressful. There are things you can’t control, like flight delays or lost luggage. But feeling good when you get there is entirely possible with the help of a quality pair of compression socks from Sigvaris.

If you don’t see your ideal travel sock here, we have more options for you. Take our quiz for a personalized recommendation on your next travel sock.