Here's how you survive economy class with style!
What REALLY makes an economy class trip feel a bit more like first class? I recently saw a list by a well-respected travel site that listed such radical moves like bringing bottled water, toiletries,and nice socks. Really? Exactly WHO is getting on a plane without water? This isn't some kind of revolutionary list of suggestions – anyone who’s been on a plane once will have figured this out within 20 minutes!
One of the first, but sad, rules of being a global traveler with a coffee can budget is to fly economy class. While standards can vary by airline, there is no denying that first class has it much nicer. But with a bit of foresight, you can enjoy a much more comfortable flight than your surrounding neighbours – maybe even just as nice as the muck-ity mucks in first class.
Look the part.
Be organized and look the part of a savvy traveler. Be comfortable, be safe (chic flat shoes with good grips and cushy soles, no high heels), and make a bit of an effort. Clean jeans, cashmere sweater, and a beautiful wrap – no one gets a surprise bump to first class looking like Broomhilda! And if no upgrade is forthcoming (who were we kidding?) you can still feel like you are having a classy, polished experience.
Organize your carry on luggage so you can find everything with ease and not lose precious space by building a nest of your junk. Loose coats, scarves, magazines, candy, and water bottles should be neatly corralled into a tote bag or backpack.
Get the best seat.
If your flight lasts longer than a movie, consider choosing the best available seat using Seat Guru. You’ll learn the pros and cons of each seat on the airplane, and you can decide if it’s worth it to pay a little extra for, say, an emergency exit row seat that gives you an extra 6 inches of leg room. And if the emergency row is already spoken for, look carefully at the aircraft map. Towards the back of the plane, you'll often see rows of three seats taper down to two as the aircraft narrows. If you chose the first of these reduced rows, you'll often get a roomy gap between the exterior wall and where the third seat would have been (as seen in the shot above.)
See a better seat- ask for it! Volunteer for the emergency row, or ask early on if you can grab the 3 empty seats in the very back row to stretch out. On a flight from Lilongwe to London, I was stuck in the middle and I spied a free seat at the very front of economy – tons of leg room between my seat and the first class curtain. I grabbed it and it was so worth the mad dash!
Make a spa in the sky.
Bring deluxe toiletries that make SENSE for airlines and security. Instead of pre-moistened wipes filling up your 3-1-1 pack, choose Olay’s dry all-in-one face cleanser cloths. They are so large I cut them into small pieces.
I also take along those tiny “pucks” that are compressed disposable wash cloths. Instead of messy lotion, I use a solid moisture stick, like a coco-butter stick from the Body Shop, or a lavender stick from Deep Steep. Deeply moisturizing, soothing, and healing, plus TSA friendly!
Lighten up with dark coffee and chocolate.
Make your OWN coffee, tea, or hot chocolate. My husband and I always travel with Starbucks brand travel thermos - his is actually a French press and mug all in one. They are sturdy, never leak, and hold heat for hours. Bring along a baggie of fresh ground coffee (maybe some dark peaberry from Kona?), some Godiva dark hot chocolate mix, or high-quality silk tea bags. Just ask the flight staff for some hot water and you will be rewarded with piping hot, fresh deliciousness. Be prepared for the looks of intense envy as everyone around you smells your incredible fresh brewed coffee.
DIY gourmet grub
Bringing your own food is old advice - it’s what you bring that makes all the difference. I love baked goods, and homemade blueberry oat muffins, chocolate hazelnut biscotti, and chocolate coconut “spider cookies” will be delicious additions to your flight. Other favourite treats include homemade peanut butter cookies with Nutella filling sandwiches. I use the 3-ingredient recipe on the PB jar, stick two together with a healthy dab of Nutella, and rolls the edges in a light coat of rainbow sprinkles. High protein, so easy, an absolute miracle on hour 18 of your trip to Maui!
If you prefer savory over sweet treats, try Asian noodle salad, rosemary flatbread with deli turkey and Swiss cheese; cold roasted veggies in pita bread with goat cheese; nuts roasted with sugar, cinnamon, chili powder, and black pepper, tossed with craisins and dried apricots for amazing travel food. Bring along a few beautiful paper napkins – at this point, even the flight attendants will be begging for samples and you will feel nothing but pity for the poor souls in first class with their limp reheated chicken.
If you don't have time to prepare your snacks in advance, you needn't worry. I love GateGuru for researching food selection in different sections of the airport. Knowing your choices in advance allow you to grab better food on the run.
Tiny Treats = Big Relaxation (on any airplane!)
Plan special treats to make the flight enjoyable no matter where you are seating. Here are my top suggestions for low cost, high quality treats, no matter how long or short your trip.
I'd love to hear from you! How do you make the most of the economy experience?
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13/7/2013 04:14:10 pm
Great idea about the hot chocolate mix. I always carry my own tea bags and ask for hot water - but the cocoa will be a real treat. Just endured coast-to-coast in economy yesterday, so I'm very receptive right now to suggestions.
15/7/2013 03:19:38 am
Everyone around me always goes nuts when I break out the hot chocolate! But I think some nice tea would also be lovely - maybe different varieties to help with falling asleep then waking up? Or something flowery and fragrant to make the whole area smell better?
15/7/2013 03:52:54 am
We must travel together one day...we would be totally compatible. I also travel with a bright cashmere shawl, and Olay dry wipes that I've cut in half (they're too big) and bring my own thermal mug. I'm not a coffee drinker though, prefer travelling with my own tea bags or these individual packs of asian ginger/honey drink. Great tips!
29/7/2013 09:33:47 am
Thanks Mary! LOVE that you too cut the Olay dry cloths in half. Honestly, how filthy were their test subjects that they made the cloths so big!!!
15/7/2013 12:07:55 pm
Great ideas!!! I've never travelled anything but economy class but it is nice to have a few treats in your bag for a flight. I tried to dress less scuzzy on my recent flights. I too am totally guilty of the ratty yoga pants!!!!!
29/7/2013 09:35:50 am
Given that I do a lot of writing in my ratty yoga pants (I mean.... my ball gown.....) it's hard to find a dressier alternative that is just as comfy, but I'm trying!
The part about bringing your own food made me laugh, as there are some dos and donts in that department. On one flight the woman in front if me brought leaky Indian food, and guess who it spilled all over as she tried to organize everything in the overhead bin? Me!!
29/7/2013 09:36:44 am
Ewwwwww!!! Oh no! That's why I tried to suggest low odor foods! No tuna fish sandwiches allowed!
Some great suggestions here! I too am guilty of the ratty yoga pants. What else do you wear for the 20hr torture session? Tried leggings and a floaty dress but always feel like pants are just so much handier with pockets. Taken to cargo pants in thr last month. Quicker drying that jeans, fold flat and weigh much less.
15/8/2013 12:27:21 am
Thanks Roma! And good for you for rocking the leggings and dress!! Maybe they need to invent yoga pants that look more like leggings AND have pockets in them!!
19/8/2013 03:27:53 am
You'll love it! Be sure to get one that is a "double wall" thermos - they keep things HOT! The nice thing is that you can remove the french press component for other drinks.
22/11/2014 04:37:58 am
Hot caffeinated beverages are a key element of surviving any travel experience.
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