5 Cheap Ways to Make Flying Coach Feel Like First Class


Hard seatbacks, no legroom, subpar snacks — flying coach can be less-than-cozy. (See also: 5 Hidden Comforts to Consider When Choosing an Airline)

Unfortunately, the average first-class ticket can be exorbitantly expensive in comparison. For many of us, it's just not worth it. But with a few simple tricks, you can make your back-of-the-plane flying experience feel more like that of those folks sitting up in the first few rows.

1. Choose Your Airline Wisely

Not all coach flights were created equal. JetBlue, for example, offers economy passengers an average of 33 inches of legroom, compared to the standard 31 inches. Plus, you can watch DirecTV for free. Southwest doesn't charge its economy flyers for blankets, pillows, and snacks. Virgin Atlantic has free in-flight comfort kits containing slippers, earplugs, and eye-masks. And on most Virgin flights, a free welcome cocktail is served before the three-course meal.

2. Select Your Seats With Care

Websites like SeatGuru and SeatExpert were made to help you identify the roomiest, most comfortable seats on your flight. But don't be fooled — there's a lot more to consider than legroom. Distance to the nearest restroom or inflight entertainment screen are other factors that can impact the enjoyability of your flight.

Simply look up the seating details for your specific flight and select one of the seats designated as most comfortable. Not all hope is lost if all the good seats are already taken, by the way. You can create an alert that will notify you if any of your prefered seats become available by using apps like ExpertFlyer, which costs $4.99 monthly, although it won't actually execute a seat-swap on your behalf.

Another option is TripIt Pro's Seat Tracker, which not only notifies you of preferred seat openings, but also allows you to confirm a seat change with the airline without ever leaving the app ($49 per year).

3. Invest in a Self-Inflating Seat Cushion

You can pretty easily go from feeling like you're sitting on a block of concrete to feeling like you're floating on a cloud by investing in a simple self-inflating seat cushion like the Luxe Self-Inflating Seat Cushion ($41) by online travel gear consortium Magellan's. Sitting on this orthopedically designed cushion relieves pressure from your spinal cord, making for not only a more comfortable flight, but a more comfortable few next days.

4. Pack Your Own Personalized Comfort Kit

Melatonin to help you relax and fall asleep. Face wipes to keep you feeling fresh and clean. An iPod pre-loaded with a playlist of all your favorite travel songs. If your airline doesn't offer the little accoutrements that make all the difference between a comfortable flight and a dreadful one, pack them yourself. Other easy-to-pack items that make for a cozier in-flight experience include chocolates, fuzzy socks, eye drops, face lotion, and lots of bottled water.

5. Look the Part

If you want to enjoy a comfortable flight, dress for it. Leave the belts, heels, heavy jewelry, and neckties at home (or in your luggage) and opt instead for clothing that's soft, loose-fitting, and layered. Breathable fabrics will help you body adjust to warm or cool air cabin temperatures. Scarves, shawls, vests, sweatshirts, sweaters, and light jackets will keep you warm, plus they can double as blankets and pillows. And flat shoes you know won't make you limp or blister will be your saving grace as you stand patiently waiting to board.

How do you make flying coach more comfortable?

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Guest's picture

Better forget the suggestion to pack lots of bottled water in #4... Maybe pack a self filtering water bottle to fill at the gate.