Thanks to everyone who responded. I'll try the products/websites/seat picking strategies that have been recommended.
@chenda - I've tried inflatable neck rests and was disappointed with the plastic-y feel. They are also uncomfortable and deflate. But that was quite a few years ago and if you have a brand recommendation, that'd be great.
@C40- I've been upgraded a few times and first class is better than economy. Not twice as good but better. No wailing babies, no middle seats, no big people leaning into your space, foot rests (sometimes), better food etc.
It's infuriating though. I'm convinced, the airlines know very well how to make economy more comfortable but don't do it so they can upsell. It's like movie theatres who first ban outside food and then sell bad food at a massive premium.
@palmera - Nice blog but I couldn't figure out how to leave a comment. Anyway, I love eye masks and cannot imagine traveling without mine. Highly recommend them.
@livinlite - I eat when I'm unhappy so going hungry on a plane is out of the question :).
@aussierogue - *sigh* i hate you and what is a doona?
@KevinW - hummus makes it through security?!! That would be life-changing for me if that is true. Hoplite's list specifically mentions spreads as being forbidden no?
@Hoplite - I've heard the draw string bag tip before but have this fear of that drawstring coming apart and spewing underwear all over :) but I will look for something zippered and securely fastened. Thanks.
@BeyondtheWrap - Work throws up three trips a year on average, parents live across the planet from me, sibling lives way down south, BFF lives across the country and of course, when I finally get engaged, the man has to be from another country. Until the immigration stupidities get ironed out, my quality of life is going to be....sad. This is why my usual 'suck it up, it is a few hours' strategy will not cut it any more.
JasonR - LOL. you get my favorite comment award for this thread.