Just because you’re flying in economy doesn’t mean you can’t have some of the little luxuries found in the first-class cabin. Here are six ways to make your cramped coach flight feel just a little more special.
You know what they say: Once you fly first class, there’s no going back. But unless your company is picking up the tab or you have plenty of disposable income, economy-seat flying is the cramped reality for most travelers. But there are adjustments you can make to feel like an first-class flier no matter your seat number.
1. PLAN YOUR MEALS
In the big seats up at the front of the plane, food is a plus in terms of convenience, but most of the time, it’s nothing to write home about. Bring your own food—and go heavy on the snacks—for a long flight. If you’re not inclined to pack yourself some treats at home, you can find exceptional options now in most hub airports. I always bring nuts, dried fruit, or some good jerky. A salad is a solid choice for your main course. If you must bring a sandwich—which some people prefer, as they’re easy to eat in cramped spaces—steer clear of burgers, burritos, and fried stuff. You’re not doing you or your fellow passengers any favors by eating messy and/or smelly meals.
2. TREAT YOURSELF (TO SOME BOOZE)
Most pro travelers—and their doctors—don’t recommend quaffing tons of alcohol when in the air (there’s the whole issue of dehydration), but a drink or two can definitely help you relax and unwind. Airlines frown upon passengers bringing their own libations on board (and it’s technically illegal, per the FAA), so suck it up and buy a drink or two from the flight attendant—it’s money well spent. Tip: Delta provides a free drink coupon to Sky Priority travelers who check in online and print their own boarding passes.
3. DRESS UP, NOT DOWN
Presumably you are not a child or in college anymore, so don’t board the plane looking like you’re on your way to a slumber party. Cashmere is a comfortable, elegant way to go; Uniqlo offers solid, affordable options. If a Kanye-inspired look is your thing, Club Monaco offers tapered sweatpants—opt for dark colors so you don’t look like you’re heading straight to the gym when you touch down. Always cover your feet with socks, and wear or bring a pair of light slip-ons (not flip-flops). Better yet, take a pair of free slippers from the hotel or spa and chuck them into your carry-on.
4. REDUCE NOISE
Nothing is better for drowning out the noise of jet engines, screaming children, chatty Cathys, or snoring businessmen than noise-reducing headphones (which are better than the headphones you get in first class).Bose is the category leader, but Sennheiser, Sony, and Beats also make great options.
5. BRING YOUR BEDDING
If you’re in coach, getting sleep can be a challenge. Neck pillows help; Muji sells a good inflatable one. Otherwise, a scarf will keep your neck toasty, and a large enough one can also double as a blanket. An eye mask to keep out light is a must; have your business-class flying buddy snag an extra one for you from his or her next flight, or pick one up at the airport or online (Amazon offers a wide variety). If your chosen airline offers its own pillow—which is becoming increasingly rare—bring your own pillowcase to cover that scratchy material that barely passes as fabric. Bed, Bath & Beyond has a great selection.
6. PACK YOUR OWN AMENITIES
Those cute little bags that are passed out in the upper classes are fun to get, but you’re better off building your own that’s equipped with all your favorite stuff. Include the following: toothpaste, a toothbrush, moisturizer, lip balm, hand wipes (great for hands; even better for wiping down stuff around your seat), medication (pain relievers, sleeping pills, vitamins), a razor and shaving cream, and a comb. Muji has everything you’ll need to build a great kit, from the bag itself to containers for storing your favorite products. And remember, the TSA restricts liquids and gels in carry-ons to 3.4 ounces per item.