Business class and first class air travel is up there with some of the most elusive luxury experiences that many of us can only dream of, generally reserved for the ultra rich, corporate travellers, or at most a one-off special treat. From tools to help you select the best seat to tips on what to bring on board, here are some things you can do to make your economy flight feel like first class.
1. Get the best seat you can by booking early
To stay away from loud engines, busy bathrooms and the galley and to be one of the first off the flight, sit closer to the front of the plane. Of course, airlines know these seats are prime real estate and charge accordingly, with front sections and bulkhead and emergency exit rows fetching higher fares. So if you don’t have frequent flier status with an airline, buy your ticket as soon as possible. Why? Everybody else wants these seats too and there simply will be more availability. Plus, if you are willing to pay for premium economy, the fee will be cheaper.
2. Fly on quieter days
The quieter it is in the economy cabin, the better experience you’ll have. When flights are full, cabin crew are stretched, toilets and galley areas get busy, and you really understand why some call it ‘cattle class’. Booking your flight on quieter days can help improve your economy experience. There’s no way to truly know how many people will be flying, but thinking about your destination and the type of people that’ll fly there can help. Look at where your layover is, too, as don’t forget some people will get off there. Quiet flights can mean you get a whole row to yourself – which means you can lay flat, for free!
3. Carry A Soft Sleeping Mask
This might sound very basic and something you must always carry but there are people who often don’t. It strikes them after they have boarded. So the best solution to this is to keep one in your bag all the time. Often in the rush of leaving for the airport, these are the last-minute things you don’t remember to pack. That’s when your entire journey becomes a nightmare.
4. Sit at the back of the plane
Top tip: planes fill front to back, and lots of people are DESPO to get off the plane first. Personally I think it’s pointless, because any time I save getting off first is only ever spent waiting for my baggage. If you’re not in a huge rush to get off, sit further back, as you’ve got far more chance of having spare seats in your row. Every time I’ve had an entire row to myself, I’ve been at the back of the plane.
5. Make Your Own Amenities Box
Airlines like Emirates and even British Airways are known for offering high-end toiletries and fine dining and drinks to their big spending passengers, but Ott says there are ways of creating your own first class feel when in your seat. You can make your own amenity kit and fill it with the things you need or want to cater to yourself. “I have a bunch of carry on things that are great to bring that help with the actual journey. I’m always big on bringing my own blanket, a change of clothes, eye masks, ear plugs, universal plugs, socks, shoes, a toothbrush, toothpaste, chapstick, and a pen – nobody likes the person who has to ask for a pen” a passenger said.
6. Skip the airline food
Airplane food is notoriously bad in economy, so bring your own meals or snacks. Just be careful what you choose — heavy, salty, fatty food will make you feel uncomfortable the entire flight. For snacks, warm nuts are a first-class staple on flights, so bring some of your own, just make sure they’re light on salt. Or chose a protein bar that’s low in sugar and has at least 20 grams of protein, says Wood. As for meals to make or grab at the airport and bring on the flight, good choices include a grilled veggie or chicken wrap or pannini or a salad with avocado (squeeze a little lemon on to keep it green), protein and nuts.