I have been writing an update on this post, almost every 2 years (2016, 2018). Travel change over time, so it is worth an update. Also, I was reading back on my last post in 2018 and felt like I should elaborate on some of my points.
But first, let’s contrast economy with luxury travel.
Business / First Class Travel Versus Economy
Basically, not everyone is fortunate enough to travel on Business or First Class. The goal of the miles and points game is to earn enough for Business or First Class trips that we may not otherwise pay cash for. Over the holidays, I had this discussion (Business versus Economy travel) with many people.
A Business or First Class ticket can cost anywhere between 2-4 times more in miles than an economy tickets. While the cost in cash could be 2 to 20+ times more. The conclusion I had with virtually everyone I spoke to (including myself) was that they preferred more volume, i.e. more economy flights so that they can travel to more places, rather than splurge on a nicer flight.
So those conversations inspired me to update this post.
That being said, if you do prefer Business or First Class travel, go for it! You worked hard for your miles and cash, you should be able to spend it how you like.
Below are things that I personally do to make my trip more comfortable. Later in the post, I will mention other suggestions that work well too that I, myself, put less emphasis on.
You will notice that many of the items below are intertwined with each other. No one factor is going to make a huge difference, but I find that combining them together, it makes a big difference overall.
This is my key factor to feeling comfortable. I head to the airport already expecting everything to go wrong. Delayed or cancelled flights, lost baggage, long line-ups, etc.
For example, during the holidays, I had a flight that left the gate on time, but rolled over something that was not suppose to be under the plane. So we were delayed 90 minutes, all the while sitting on the plane. They would not let us disembark. The funny thing is that the flight was scheduled to take less than 90 minutes.
Because I already expected this to happen, I was not frustrated. In the end, I was able to watch a movie (that I have been meaning to watch for months). Because of the delay, I was able to watch the whole thing without stopping in the middle (and then who knows when I will ever finish the movie). I was so captured by the movie that I actually did not feel the delay.
Being able to rest in a lounge before a flight makes all the difference for me. I know it sounds funny that we are resting ahead of being on a flight, where we will be sitting the entire time anyway. Some of it goes hand in hand with my point above (mindset). Being in a lounge helps improve my mindset.
Contrary to popular belief, you don’t need to have a Business or First Class ticket to head into an airport lounge. You do not even need to have frequent flyer elite status. There are many credit cards nowadays that grant you free access to lounges (see credit cards that offer free lounge access).
Take a shower before the flight
Speaking of lounge access and being well rested, taking a shower before a flight also helps with feeling more comfortable on the plane. I especially want to ensure that I washed my hair before boarding. The more clean and fresh I feel, the more relaxed I feel. The last thing I want is itchy or oily hair when I sitting at my seat.
Brush teeth and mouthwash
Speaking of feeling fresh, I find that brushing my teeth before boarding the plane (even brushing while on the plane) makes a world of difference. Include mouthwash while we are at it.
I find water is the best form of liquid for my body. I find that when I drink other types of liquids, like soft drink, alcohol, my body does not feel as optimal.
Furthermore, dehydration is generally an issue on planes because they are very dry, which can lead to headaches. I find water as the best option to stay hydrated.
Personal Vanity Kit
Have your own personalized vanity kit with toothbrush, mouthwash, moisturisers, hand cleanser, mints or anything else to pamper yourself. Whatever you bring, make sure it is travel size that gets you through security.
Lip balm, body lotion, etc. helps to prevent dryness (as mentioned just above), which in turn, increases my comfort level.
I find loose clothing, especially hoodies, the best for me. I completely avoid anything that feel tight on me as I want to be able to move around more easily. I also prefer hoodies because I get cold easily, so I like to stay warm. I completely avoid anything that feels remotely tight on me while on the plane.
When I take naps, I rather take off my glasses and put it in a safe place, so that I do not have to worry about crushing them. I find that when I keep my glasses on during a nap, I do not get as good a rest because I am worrying about my glasses at the back of my mind. As if we do not have enough on our minds already, one less thing to worry about helps with the mindset!
Take off my shoes and foot rest
The simple solution to smelly feet is to ensure that you took a shower before boarding and wear a fresh pair of socks. Taking off my shoes makes a world of difference for my feet. I also use my carry-on as a footrest to increase my comfort level.
This is the newest one that I started doing on the plane. This essentially circles back to my first and most important item at the top: mindset.
I use meditation to clear my mind and to be in the moment, which leads me to be more relaxed. The more mentally relaxed I feel, the more comfortable I feel overall.
In addition to my personal preferences listed above, below are other suggestions to make economy travel more comfortable on the plane.
Personally, for short haul flights, I am guilty of staying put, which is why I classified this as “other suggestions.” But I understand that many people have cramping or swelling issues, so it is very important to walk around whenever it is allowed. Head to the washroom to brush your teeth, apply moisturisers, etc.
Reserve a Good Seat
Personally, it does not bother me that much where I sit because I rarely fly alone. So I am usually sitting next to someone I know. Often times on both sides of me if I had to sit in the middle seat.
Of course I may be particular about some minor things about my seat, but it is definitely not near the top of my priority list.
That being said, I do suggest that you try to book a seat that you feel the most comfortable in. If you are prone to motion sickness, you will want to find a seat in the centre/middle of the plane, where it is more stable.
Use a pillow and blanket
Personally, I am fine with my hoodie and I may have a jacket with me, which is why I moved this item to “other”.
Sleeping sitting up is probably not the optimal way to get the best possible rest. So having something to support your head will give you a better sleep. Also, planes can get cold sometimes, so you will want something to keep yourself warm.
If you have the space in your carry-on, you are probably better off bringing your own pillow and blanket so that you can choose something more comfortable suited for yourself.
Noise cancelling headphones and eye mask
I find that I am a pretty good sleeper, so noise and lights do not bother me much. Also, I find anything wrapped around my head (headphones or eye masks) too tight and reduced my comfort level. As mentioned above, I like to keep my body as unobstructed as possible.
But for some people, planes can be noisy for various reasons, so having noise cancellation headphones should help with that.
Even though they dimmed the lights on the plane, your neighbour may insists on turning on the reading lamp. So eye masks will come in handy.
As I mentioned earlier, every item may seem very minor, but when you add them all up, I find that it does make a big difference overall.
How about you? What do you do to make your economy flight feel more comfortable? Please let us know in the comment section below!