Flying a long-haul flight is always physically challenging, but you can take some steps to make it easier. Even when you don’t feel any difficulties while you’re in the air, the consequences of neglecting your body’s needs may appear later.
That’s why you should consider wearing compression socks on plane trips (they are always a part of my travel essentials for the plane). They are also incredibly beneficial for those who enjoy a more active travel-style that included hiking, running, cycling or mountain climbing.
The purpose of these special socks is to stimulate the blood flow in your legs.
This is especially important during long, uncomfortable economy flights when your legs have to remain still for some time. This slows down the blood flow and may cause complications with your blood vessels, including pain.
This guide explains the importance of travel compression socks, how they work, and also lists some of the best compression socks for flying long-distance & for active travel vacations. You never again have to travel and fly without them.
Not in the mood for research and reading and just want to find out which is the best?
- THE BEST TRAVEL COMPRESSION SOCKS -
Our top pick is the Wanderlust Compression Socks.
- Available in two sizes M-L or L-XL
- It is easy to get on and off
- It is comfortable
- It offers graduated compression which provides instant pain relief
- Helpful in boosting circulation, decreasing swelling, preventing blood clots and aids in faster recovery
Best Compression Socks for Flying Long Distance 2023 Comparison Chart
Below is a comparison chart of our pick of the best airplane compression socks & the best ones for travels.
You can then read our travel compression sock reviews below featuring our pick of the best travel socks for both flying, as well as active holidays that require a lot of walking, running or cycling.
(For Men & Women)
M/L & L/XL
25-30 (foot & ankle), 15-20 (leg & calf), 10-15 (under knee)
Cotton, Polyester, Nylon, Lycra
(For Men & Women)
S, M, L, XL
20 - 30
(For Men & Women)
S, M, L, XL
20 - 30
S/M & M/L
15 - 20
Merino Wool, Rayon from Bamboo, Nylon, Spandex
(For Men & Women)
S, M, L, XL
12 - 20
Silver Drystat, Lycra, Nylon
(For Men & Women)
S/M & L/XL
15 - 20
(For Men & Women)
S/M & L/XL
15 - 20
Nylon, Elastic Fiber
(For Men & Women)
S/M & L/XL
15 - 20
(For Men & Women)
S/M & L/XL
20 - 30
(For Men & Women)
S/M & L/XL
15 - 20
Which Compression Socks are Best for Flying?
Compression socks offer great health benefits as they improve blood circulation and help prevent blood clots from flying.
We recommend that you look for compression socks that not only offer comfort whilst flying but also provide the best compression and health benefit.
Our top pick is the Wanderlust Travel Compression Socks which are made from high-quality material ensuring that comfortable feeling, perfect for flying & travel. They are also suitable for men and women.
Best Compression Stockings for Flying?
If you think that wearing compression socks may be uncomfortable or make you feel too warm, compression stockings are a great alternative as they offer the same great health benefits when flying as compression socks.
They are also a great alternative for women when traveling as they look like your standard knee-high stockings so you can travel in these from home to your destination.
Our top pick is the Absolute Support Sheer Compression Socks which are made from a lightweight sheer fabric material with 15-20 mmHg compression ensuring that comfortable feeling, perfect for flying & travel.
They are most suitable for women.
Best Compression Socks for Men?
Our recommendation for the best Compression Socks for Men is the Wanderlust Travel Compression Socks.
Even though the socks can be used for men and women the socks definitely has a more masculine feel. They come in a black and grey options and is perfect for flying, traveling, walking, cycling and whole range of sporting activities.
What Are Compression Socks for Air Travel?
Compression socks are not only meant for pilots, flight attendants, and airplane passengers. Since their main purpose is to improve your blood flow, people use them for various reasons.
For example, leg compression socks are great for:
- Reducing chronic circulation problems such as thrombosis, diabetes-induced complications, and spider or varicose veins
- Preventing injuries and improving overall performance while playing sports
- Aiding people who can’t leave their bed or have difficulty moving their legs
- Easing leg swelling during pregnancy
- Recovery post-surgery
- Helping people who constantly work in a standing position
These specially made socks are stretchy and tight. They come in various sizes and shapes, depending on their main purpose. They can be tighter or looser.
When it comes to shape, they can look like a regular pair of socks, but they can also be tubular. They can cover only the lower leg, but some also go all the way up to your thighs.
When you put them on, they will softly squeeze your ankle, loosening the grip as they move up to the lower leg. This pressure will increase the flow in your blood vessels.
Because of the improved circulation, blood will not have trouble moving around. This will also ease the pressure from your veins, so they can freely move the blood back up to the heart.
Compression socks also prevent blood clots since the blood won’t gather in the veins. These clots can cause life-threatening complications if they start to roam around your body freely, and they also swellings or pain.
All in all, you have a lot to gain and nothing to lose by choosing to wear compression travel socks. Use them to prevent all the risks from above during long airplane flights.
Benefits of Compression Socks for Travel and Flights
Now that you know what travel and flight socks are, you should see some of the benefits.
Since most of these benefits are long-term, you may not notice anything right away. However, you’ll know that these socks have done their job if you don’t feel any post-flight swelling and ache in your legs.
There are two main reasons or benefits as to why you should wear compression socks:
1. Minimize DVT Risk:
We all know or heard of the DVT (Deep Vein Thrombosis) or more commonly known as blood clotting. Saying that, we all have a general idea as to why we don't want that to happen to us.
By wearing the compression socks during travel or long flight, we minimize the possibility of the DVT ever happening.
Gentle pressure of the compression encourages the movement of the blood to the deep veins and prevents from blood clotting.
Wearing your compression socks is a simplest and the most effective way to reduce the risk of DVT.
2. Reduce Swelling and Pain:
As you now know, compression socks ensure that the flow of blood to deep veins (especially in lower limbs) is not interrupted. Therefore, the socks in turn protect your legs from getting tired and reduces the risk of swollen ankles.
Besides reducing pain after flying, they can also:
- Stop lower leg swelling by ensuring a steady blood flow and no clotting in the vessels
- Keep the legs lively for walking after your flight
- Prevent numbness in the legs and feet
- Reduce the possibility of cramps
Note that airplane socks are beneficial for shorter flights too. If you’re a frequent short-distance traveler, there is an equal risk of blood vessel complications. So consider getting a pair of flight compression socks anyway – you won’t regret it.
FAQ's About Compression Socks that Are Specifically Used for Flights and Travel
1. Do compression socks help with swelling when flying?
In short, yes they do!
Legs and feet swell from long flights because you are confined to a small, uncomfortable space. You are not able to move around much which causes poor blood circulation in your legs and in turn causes pressure and swelling.
Wearing compression socks while flying is a popular method and way to prevent post-flight swelling.
2. Do compression socks help prevent blood clots when flying?
As swelling and poor circulation is a side effect of long flights, compression socks help stop blood clots by stimulating blood circulation in your lower legs.
Dr. Bob Bacheler, managing director and flight nurse at Flying Angel, explains why wearing Compression Socks is beneficial:
“Compression stockings and socks can promote comfort while traveling and be one of the easiest ways to avoid blood clots associated with deep vein thrombosis (DVT).
Compression stockings/socks are elastic and as such help to prevent blood from pooling in the lower extremities, and prevent clots from forming.”
3. How soon should you wear compression socks before flying?
It is always good to try them on at home before you fly so you can make sure they fit and you get used to wearing them.
As you can wear compression socks for extended periods, you can pop them on your feet at home before you begin your journey to the airport or put them on right before you board the plane.
4. What are the negative effects of compression socks?
The most common side effect is discomfort as the socks are tighter than usual socks.
Other possible side effects that may appear after a few hours of continuous use are (mostly due to incorrect fit of socks):
- loss of circulation
- burning or chafing
- bruises and broken skin
5. Who should not wear compression socks?
Most people can wear compression socks however if you have skin that bruises easily, wearing compression socks isn’t recommended.
They can also cause injury to compromised skin layers that scrape or bruise easily. It is important to know that chafing or sores caused by compression socks can even lead to an infection if they aren’t taken care of properly.
If you’re unsure if compression socks are a good choice for you, talk to a doctor before using them on a long trip.
6. Can I wear compression socks through airport security?
Yes you can wear them through airport security.
7. How do I know my compression sock size?
The important point to note is that you want your compression socks to be a good tight and compressed fit to be the most effective.
To ensure you get the correct measurement, measure the circumference of your calf and the circumference of your ankle.
If your measurement falls in between sizes, try one size smaller that is the closest to your measurements.
8. What level of compression socks do you need for flying?
Compression socks come in various degrees of pressure and ratings. Understand what the ratings mean to get the compression that you want for your journey and select a compression range based on the medical benefits you hope to receive.
Graduated compression socks fit the most snugly at the ankle, the higher mmHg measurement describes the pressure at the ankle and the lower number describes the pressure at the calf.
Compression ratings range from 8 mmHg (the lightest pressure) to 60 mmHg (extra-firm compression).
Mild levels of compression socks have a rating between 8–15 mmHg and 15–20 mmHg—will provide light amounts of pressure to your leg and are great for long travel days.
Higher levels of compression, like 20–30 mmHg to 30–40 mmHg, are generally the levels doctors will prescribe.
How to Choose Best Compression Socks for Travel in 2023
Finding the best compression socks for travel is not an easy task. You may see stylish compression socks that prove to be too tight.
On the other hand, some may be a perfect fit, but the way they look will put you off.
Where to Buy Compression Socks for Travel
Since these flying socks have multiple purposes, you can get them in many different specialized shops. You’ll find them in sportswear shops as accessories, in pharmacies, and in various online shops.
If you already have issues with blood vessels in your legs, you should talk with your doctor before your flight. They may prescribe a particular type of socks that fit your situation. If you have a doctor’s prescription, your insurance may cover the fee.
Depending on the type, size, and even the brand, compression socks can vary in price. However, most of them should cost somewhere between $8 and $30.
How to Choose Compression Travel Socks
In order to select the best flight socks for you, you should consider these factors:
- Length of the socks
- Pressure/weight of the socks
- Size of the socks
For flying, it is best to choose socks that start below the knee. They are enough to keep a steady blood flow and reduce the risk of thrombosis and swelling. Longer socks may feel uncomfortable in a sitting position.
Socks that exert a lower pressure are a good option for some passengers. However, if you want to avoid DVT, you should get socks with a higher pressure. But you shouldn’t feel a very tight grip, especially no pain. These socks should only feel close-fitting and warm.
The universal measurement for pressure is mmHg, this is used to express the pressure or weight of your socks. The correct weight of compression socks for long flights can vary.
You should get socks with medium to firm levels of pressure for sitting on a plane. The medium level is from 15 to 20 mmHg, while firm pressure levels are around 20-30 mmHg.
You should be particularly careful when choosing the size of your socks. If the sock is too long and wide, the pressure will be non-existent.
Without pressure, compression socks are useless. It’s usually better to get a full sock instead of only tubular sleeves. When in a sitting position, it is important to keep the pressure on your feet as well.
So, when you’re choosing the best compression socks for air travel, you should look for:
- Below-the-knee length
- A decent amount of pressure/weight
- A snug, but painless fit, not too long and not too wide
How to Wear Them
The size and shape are not the only factors that determine the effectiveness of compression socks. If you want the socks to do a proper job, you will have to know how to wear them, too.
When you put on your compression socks, you should make sure they are sitting completely flat on your leg. If wrinkled, they will tighten in certain places and interfere with your blood flow.
When to Put Compression Socks Before Flying
Although there is a bit of speculation online in regards to when to put compression socks before flying, the ultimate choice is totally up to you.
As a general rule, it is recommended to you wear the compression stockings/socks if you are flying for longer than 4-5 hours.
If you only plan to use compression socks during your flights, you can put them on just before you depart, and take them off when you arrive.
You can also wear them for a longer period without any concern, whether you’re traveling a short distance or across the globe.
Top 10 Compression Socks for Travel Reviews
In the section below, you will find our compression socks review of 2023. The list covers all the positive aspects and downsides of each pair of compression socks.
Hopefully, after reading this review, you will easily decide which socks are the best fit for you.
1. Wanderlust Travel Compression Socks Review
If you’re looking for a sock of amazing quality and you’re not afraid to spend more than average, this sock is for you.
Whilst these socks are for both men and women, we have found that it is the best men's compression socks for travel due to its masculine look.
The material is mostly cotton, with nylon and polyester making it stretchable and durable. You’ll find that the pressure at the foot is firm, while it slowly loosens while you go up.
Since the pressure below the knee is low, you won’t feel the cuffs at all. On the other hand, they are extremely stretchable and should fit any leg type.
With the universal design, you can also wear these socks when you’re not traveling. If you’re comfortable with the pressure, they can benefit you in your everyday life during long periods of standing. The only downside is the price.
2. SB SOX Compression Socks Review
SB Sox are also reliable sellers in this category. These are among the best compression socks for long flights, and they come with a pressure level of 20-30 mmHg.
With this level of pressure, you can be sure that your blood will flow smoothly in your legs.
What makes SB SOX stand out is the amazing design which can replace an everyday pair of socks or stockings.
You may choose between striped, plaid, mono-colored, and colorful compression socks. With this design, you will feel confident and calm during a long flight or during a hike or run.
You’ll also feel comfortable because of the cushioned heel and toe support. A tighter grip on the ankle enables uninterrupted circulation through the foot and prevents swelling or soreness.
The top of the sock remains tight and doesn’t wrinkle, while the fabric prevents sweating and bad smells.
The only real downside here is the confusion concerning the size. Since you’ll find only four different sizes, and the levels of pressure aren’t listed, there’s a possibility that your usual size may be too tight.
Check out this SB SOX compression socks size chart.
3. Physix Gear Stamina Compression Socks Review
The Physix Gear Stamina socks are black compression socks with a colorful heel. This product has all the necessary features to keep your legs comfortable.
These socks go below the knee and apply a firm level of pressure, so they are ideal for long airplane trips. The material is double-stitched and breathable, which provides longevity and comfort in your legs.
The aeration and anti-bacterial fabric will keep your legs dry, so you shouldn’t worry about an uncomfortable smell after a long trip.
They also look great. The leg and foot come in black, while the heel comes in a great variety of colors.
Even though compression socks are a necessity, there’s no reason you can’t be fashionable when you’re wearing them. Available in S - XL sizes, here is a handy Psysix Gear compression socks size chart for you.
On the downside, the seams on the toes of the Physix Gear Stamina socks may vary in quality.
If your toes are too sensitive, you may feel a tad uncomfortable if you wear them for a long time. Also, they may be difficult to put on if you have bigger feet.
4. Sockwell Compression Socks Review
These are among the top women compression socks for travel. They have an athletic, yet sophisticated design, with styles ranging from eye-catching to discreet.
The material is a mix of merino wool, rayon from bamboo, and stretch nylon. This makes the socks a perfect fit for all legs and sizes.
They are great when you’re traveling around since you can wear them with many different clothing combinations, and nobody needs to know that they are compression socks.
With a moderate pressure level, they are ideal for comfortable management of your circulation.
These are among the more expensive compression socks on the list, but the quality makes up for the price.
5. Travelsox TSS6000 Review
As their name says, these socks are ideal for enduring long-distance flights.
They have a medium graduated pressure which provides a big enough boost to the blood flow but doesn’t make you uncomfortable during longer periods
These are knee-high compression socks that slip easily onto your foot and the cuffs won’t fold or wrinkle. You’ll always have a perfect fit on your leg, which is a top priority during longer flights.
The material is also anti-bacterial and moisture-absorbent, so longer flights shouldn’t make your foot sweaty. Also, these socks have excellent temperature control and aeration, so your feet always remain cool and relaxed.
Here is a handy chart to help you with the sizing:
6. FuelMeFoot Copper Compression Socks Review
The copper-infused fabric enhances circulation more than other socks, and it makes FuelMeFoot socks an interesting pick. This fabric also absorbs moisture very well and prevents unpleasant odors.
The compression is medium-level, providing a soft grip and a comfortable feeling. If you want to prevent any leg complications, this level of pressure is usually enough for long flights.
These socks are also great for various other activities that could strain your legs.
When it comes to design, these cute compression socks come with an abundance of choice – from a wide palette of colors to various shapes.
However, make sure that you get your size. Since these socks are a little smaller than average, you might find it frustrating to choose a pair in your size.
7. Laite Hebe Compression Socks Review
These socks have a simple design that doesn’t stick out. If you prefer discreet and effective products, you’ll love Laite Hebe.
With an everyday look and a comfortable feel, you can use Laite Hebe not only for long flights but also for the gym or any period of longer standing.
They provide a firm level of pressure with a breathable fabric. This will boost blood flow and help oxygen-rich blood reach your feet.
The fabric has a high percentage of nylon, which makes the socks stretchable and easy to put on. This material absorbs the sweat very well, too.
Another upside for purchasing these compression socks is that you’ll receive 3 pairs for a really reasonable price.
However, the pressure level on these socks is light. Because of that, they may be less effective during long flights than some other products on this list.
Here is a handy chart to help you figure out sizes:
8. Sooverki Store Compression Socks Review
If you want a compression sock that you’ll use for multiple activities besides flying, consider Sooverki Store travel compression socks.
The design focuses on stabilizing the joint area, so they are great for physical activities and come in a range of sizes.
If you have to stand for a long period of time, or you’re planning to work out, these socks offer a great deal of protection.
The only downside is the lack of comfort. All these stabilizing elements will make your feet slightly warmer than some other similar compression socks.
These socks may feel too thick and uncomfortable for a very long period of sitting.
9. HLTPRO Compression Socks Review
The HLTPRO Compression Socks have an interesting design and their price is reasonable. The socks have multiple purposes, and they are great for treating problems with blood flow.
The firm pressure makes these socks a little bit more uncomfortable than some others on the list.
However, they are much more effective in treating spider veins, blood clots, and thrombosis. So, if you require treatment more than prevention, you should opt for HLTPRO.
One of the best things about these socks is that they come in a cheap bundle of six. So you can use them for any activity and change them frequently.
10. CHARMKING Compression Socks Review
CHARMKING travel compression socks are mid pressure medical compression socks and they come in a tonne of color choices. These are not only great for flying, but also perfect for athletic exercise, running and cycling.
These socks are designed to provide targeted pressure from soft to firm thus look after your legs and feet very well, and provide optimal pressure at all times.
Check out this CHARMKING compression socks size guide:
Verdict on Our Pick of the Best Travel Compression Socks
With so many choices, finding the best compression socks for air travel seems like an impossible task, but it all depends on your style, preference, needs, and budget.
The best compression socks for long-haul flights is Wanderlust Travel Compression Socks. They are comfortable, not too warm, and also add just the right amount of pressure to prevent swelling and blood clots from occurring when you are cramped for way too many hours.
But if you already have problems with your legs, you should look at socks with higher pressure levels to help with your blood flow, such as the HLTPRO Compression Socks.
Since you want a comfortable, quality pair of compression socks for comfort during long flights, you may have to pay more. On the other hand, you can buy cheaper socks, but they won’t be as durable and the stitching might cause problems around the toe area.
We hope this article has helped you set your priorities and decide on the best compression socks for airline travel. Have a safe and comfortable trip.
- After some more fabulous gear for travel? Click to see our favorite travel items.