Let's just be real here. Whenever I see posts that have a title a la 'Tips to make economy class feel like first' I roll my eyes hard. You do too? Good, then we are on the same page. Because while I haven't had the pleasure of ever flying first I have seen Casey Neistat's video with green envy many times and there is just nothing that will ever make the back of the plane as comfortable or glamorous. You can wrap yourself in as much cashmere as you want to (and believe me I have tried!), it just will not be the same.
Mind you, there are quite a few things that you can do to make things a whole lot more bearable. Not quite first class, but survivor style. Together with Condor, I have asked some experts on their best tips on how to survive long flights in economy.
While I wouldn't go so far as calling myself an expert on many things (maybe wine drinking) I have been on quite a few planes this year and have learned quite a few tricks on how to get somewhat comfortable in economy class. So when Condor agreed once again to fly me home for Christmas I was excited to try out their premium economy class. To be honest, it ain't first but it does come with a lot more legroom, more food and of course, more wine!
Need some other tips on how to survive long flights in economy? I shall let the experts speak...
Wine vs. Water
Nat & Rob - Love & Road
Honestly, I cannot argue with that one. I know some people are adamant that you shouldn't drink on a plane but I can't help it and will agree with Nat and Rob. Yes, hydration is important but so is being happy. Nothing makes flying in economy class better than a glass (or two) of red, a cheesy movie you would only ever watch when sitting next to a stranger, and maybe a sleeping pill.
Travel for Two
"Traveling as a couple or together with a friend? Then it would be nice if you had a row of seats for you completely alone. Correct? For airplanes with 3-4-3 or 3-5-3 seat configuration in economy class, there's a simple trick that works amazingly often. When checking in online, you have to choose the seats so that a seat between you remains empty. If the flight is not fully booked, there is a high probability that it will actually remain free and no passenger will sit there throughout the flight. Everybody else will try to get another seat when checking in online, not forcing oneself into a middle seat. Either you are lucky, then you have the whole row of windows for yourself. Or you can still ask the one sitting between you guys to swap with you so that you finally can sit next to each other."
Anne & Clemens - T R A V E L L E R S A R C H I V E
Getting Cozy with 18 Inches*
*The average width of an economy class seat - what did you think?!
"In order to stay sane after a long-haul flight – surviving jet lag and all – I like to stick to a routine on the plane that makes the flight appear less interruptive to my “normal” life. For me, that means bringing my sleepy time tea to drink before “bed time”, to brush my teeth after dinner and “in the morning”, to remove all makeup before sleeping and to change into fresh clothes before getting off the plane. That way, my body might be tired, but my mind will believe that it was just another regular night – alas a short one... In order to make this routine work, these are my hand luggage essentials: a tea bag from home and my Keep Cup; my toothbrush & paste; face wipes, hand sanitizer & moisturizer; a change of clothes and comfy clothes for sleeping. An eye mask can help with “bedtime” and so does a meditation track on my phone when I can't unwind on a night flight."
Kathi - Watch Me See
What to wear on a plane?
I don't think I am a particularly chic traveler but I do have a uniform down that helps me not to look like a complete slob. Skinny jeans with lots of stretch, an extra long tank, oversized silk shirt, and cardigan. And of course, a huge cashmere scarf (or any very soft version thereof) which also functions as a blanket when the airline blanket just isn't so nice. And I realized that it is a lot more comfortable to either wear a sportsbra or a strapless bra which I can quickly take off in the bathroom before sleeping.
"The only thing that keeps me sane when flying long-haul in economy is taking a shower during transit. I live in Australia and regularly fly home to Europe so I've frequented almost all of the pay-per-use showers in KL, Hong Kong, Singapore, Dubai, Abu Dhabi and Doha. In some airports you access the showers for as little as $9AUD - the swish ones in Doha are a little more. The great thing is they come with towels, toiletries, and hairdryer so all you need to pack in your hand luggage is a fresh set of clothes. If you're unsure which lounges allow you to pay to shower just ask at the airport information desk."
Jayne - Girl Tweets World
Unfortunately, this is not what economy will ever look like...
Showering in transit is the best as are stopovers. Unless of course, you can snatch a direct flight for which I love Condor's route from Frankfurt to Cape Town.
Can you tell what a glamourous traveler I am?
Front or Back?
"As I'm quite tall, I often feel very cramped in Economy so I do whatever it takes to make my journey more comfortable. I always try to check in online to snag a window seat, and usually towards the back of the plane. I find most people are in a rush to get off so like to sit at the front, which means often I'll get an entire empty row to myself."
Janet - Journalist on the Run
"Firstly, try and always book your seat in advance - if you can't get an emergency exit seat (or don't want to pay an additional fee), think about choosing the back row of the plane, where you'll be in easy reach of the galley to grab some snacks and water when you need it but most importantly, the opportunity to recline your seat fully for the whole flight without having to compromise the comfort of someone behind you. If you don't like a bumpy ride - sit in the middle of the plane, near the wings - you'll find that the plane tends to experience lesser bumps (especially during turbulence, take-off, and landing)."
Lloyd & Yaya - Hand Luggage Only
I must admit I hadn't considered the snack component of sitting close to the galley in the back. However, I myself like to sit as far upfront as possible even though that means that the business class is usually teasing me being so close and yet so far. Mind you, I will take that because sitting in the front also means that I will be first off the plane (I may or may not be one of those people who have to get up as soon as the plane stops). Being able to get off quickly doesn't help if you need to take a bus to the terminal but more often than not it has helped me make a connection in time or be first in line in immigration.
Need some more karmic advice on how to survive long flights in economy? Here you go!
This post was done in friendly cooperation with Condor - thank you!