How to Make Coach Feel Like First Class (Sort Of)

You know what they say: Once you fly in the big seats up front, there’s no turning 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 what row you’re in.


In the big seats, food is a plus in terms of convenience; but most of the time, it’s nothing to write home about. Bring your own food for a long flight—especially snacks. You can find exceptional options now in most hub airports. I always bring nuts, dried fruit, or some good jerky (Taste NY shops at LaGuardia and JFK airports have a terrific variety of New York State–made 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 that during a flight.


Most pro travelers—and their doctors—don’t recommend tons of alcohol when in the air (there’s the whole issue of dehydration), but a drink or two can 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—it’s money well spent. Tip: Delta provides a free drink coupon to Sky Priority travelers who check in online and print their boarding passes.


Presumably you are not a child or in college anymore, so stop boarding 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 and Good Life offer tapered sweatpants—opt for dark colors so you don’t look like you’re heading straight to the gym when you touch down. No flip-flops or Crocs, ever. Always cover your feet with socks, and wear or bring a pair of light slip-ons. Better yet, take a pair of those free slippers from the hotel or spa and chuck them into your carry-on.


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 standard, but Sennheiser, Sony, and Beats are also good options.


If you’re in coach and know you won’t be in one of those flat beds for your overnight flight, 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. Try PillowsXpress.


Those cute little bags that are passed out in the upper classes are fun to get, but you’re better off building your own, 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.

Posted in 'Travel News' on Tuesday 29 July 2014