How to Fly Coach Comfortably: Tips to Make it Feel Like First Classby Katie on Aug 2, 2013 • 12:36 pm 5 Comments
These days, First Class ticket prices have become exorbitant and are quickly becoming a luxury for only the ultra-wealthy. Even for seasoned luxury travelers, sometimes the price difference between First Class and Coach is just too outrageous to justify for a short flight. So back into Coach, us savvier (ahem, poorer) travelers are banished. In Coach you are destined to deal with all sorts of characters: from those who have never flown before to business people whose expense accounts have been downsized.
Personally, I often fly Coach before arriving in a luxury destination and heading off to my Five Star Hotel but the trip getting there via Coach can be quite a process. I prefer to travel quite often and if it is between getting to go on another trip or sitting in First Class I will always choose to travel more. Sometimes though, when flying Coach, getting to my destination can feel like I’m going through battle. Coach can mean being wedged in between a woman with an infant on her lap and an overweight gentlemen who is spilling into your personal space, your personal television doesn’t work and even peanuts will cost you, if they serve anything at all. Coach can be difficult to say the least–not exactly the best way to start off a luxury vacation. However, for those of us who don’t have the cash to drop for a First Class ticket, I’ve got some tips to make flying Coach feel more like First Class! Or at least to make it more bearable.
Before Your Flight
Check in Early!
The early bird catches the worm! Get the seat you prefer by getting first choice. Many airlines allow you to choose seats ahead of check in time so be sure to do so. Getting a good seat is a crucial step in making your flight experience an enjoyable one. It also prevents you from getting bumped on an oversold flight since many airlines simply bump the last people to check-in.
Also, a great idea a friend of mine had when there are only middle seats left is to ask the airline if any of rows have people with the same last name seated in an aisle and a window. This way, they’re more likely to switch with you since they probably booked the aisle and window in an effort to gain the whole row. They won’t want you in between them. You’ll have to spoil their fun but all’s fair in love and travel! That said, booking seats this way if you’re a couple is the way to do it. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t, but we did have an entire row to ourself on our honeymoon! Just saying.
Your Airline Matters
If you’re flying Coach, the airline you choose definitely makes a difference. My top picks for Coach are JetBlue, Southwest and Virgin Atlantic. They have the most legroom, the best online entertainment, in-flight snacks and creature comforts (available for a price of course).
It’s the Little Things
Pay a small fee for some extra comfort. It may not be first class but paying for extra legroom or the Exit-Row can make all the difference in the world for someone with long legs.
During Your Flight
Do you know the last time your seat area has been wiped down with bleach? Yeah, neither do I. The first thing I do when I reach my seat is to take out the Clorox wipes and wipe down my tray table, my seat belt, and if my seat is leather, the seat itself. It’s not that I’m a germaphobe (though some may say that I am), it’s that I want to feel comfortable moving freely in my own space. I don’t want to have to picture who sat there before me because I know it’s not a pretty picture. I also bring hand sanitizing wipes to ensure that I feel clean again after visisitng the cesspool that Coach calls a lavatory.
Suffer in Silence
I’m not a monster, I don’t hate babies–unless they’re seated next to me on a plane. Then they quickly turn into enemy number one. But there is an easy solution–Noise-canceling headphones! These are possibly the most essential device to make a flight tolerable. If you close your eyes you can imagine that you are anywhere else. Turn on some zen music and you are instantly transported away. My top pick goes to the Bose QuietComfort 15 Acoustic Noise Cancelling headphones ($299). If you don’t want to make the splurge, bring good old-fashioned earplugs. You’d be surprised what a difference they make.
Having the empty space under the seat in front of you is crucial for your comfort. Having your legs cramped up for the duration of any flight is not preferable. So if you can, place everything in the overhead compartment that you won’t be using during the flight. Take out your magazine, computer, iPad, etc. before you board so you can just stick your bag above and not be bothered with it. Trust me, being able to move your feet makes a huge difference.
Dress for Comfort
Gone are the days where people primped and prettied up for plane rides. But, that said, you also don’t want to feel like a slob. Sporty-Chic is the way to go. I always wear a LuluLemon outfit when I fly. I feel put together yet comfortable. I’m already in Coach, I don’t want to feel like a homeless person in pajamas and heaven forbid I ever become a person who carries a full-size pillow through the airport but comfort is key to a happy traveler.
Operation Fall Asleep
It ain’t easy getting shut eye in Coach (or even in First Class for that matter). But on long flights it’s imperative if you there is any chance of you enjoying your first day abroad. Now, I’m not a doctor but I highly recommend you see yours for some prescription grade sleep-aids. If I’m on an overnight flight, I never travel without Ambien, a neck pillow and a sleep mask. Plus, once you’ve got your noise-cancelling headphones, you’re good to go! Yes, sleeping sitting up is not ideal but blocking out disturbances and forcing your slumber with a pill makes things a hell of a lot easier.
Smell the Roses
Sometimes, especially if you’re seated near a bathroom, things can get ugly. Aromatherapy can go a long way! But don’t forget to make sure it’s not too large to bring through security.
Bring your own food. Eating lunch provided by the airlines these days is a death sentence for my mood. When I am hungry I am a monster and I would bet that I’m not alone. I always come armed with my own healthy meals and snacks. I also bring lemon wedges and my own tea bags to make me more comfortable. Plus, the lemon helps me stay healthy back in the land of shared air that they call Coach.
Do you have any secrets to making your Coach experience more pleasant? Let me know in the comments! I’m dying to hear!