Flying economy class is the way to save money since they are the cheapest fares. And learning to survive economy class flights will make your travel more comfortable. Being stuck in the crowded, tight-fitting seats with less and less legroom over the years is not the most comfortable way to fly. Planes seem to be more crowded than ever these days. But since I like to save money on flights I do look for the best fare so I can spend more of my precious funds at my destination. Here are a few of the tricks learned over the years.
What to Wear
Clothing makes a big difference. The goal is to travel comfortably and arrive rested and energized. So when it comes time to dress for the flight, I recommend dressing in comfortable layers of clothing. So if it gets warm you can easily shed a layer and if it gets cold you can add back that comfortable sweatshirt. Flying economy is already challenging enough, wearing clothing that is uncomfortable is just a bad idea. Loose-fitting, light layers in clothes you have already worn and feel good in will make comfort during flight better than the alternative. This is not the time to dress to look good if your “looking good” outfits are tight, irritating, or are the least bit uncomfortable.
You will be doing a lot of walking through airports and gates. You will be going through security areas where shoes must often be removed. And you will be cramped in economy seating during the flight. This is not the time to wear those heavy, clunky boots or dressy high heels. Be wise and wear a comfortable pair of shoes that are easy to slip off. It will be easier to get through security and arrive at your plane feeling good. During the flight, you can remove your shoes (be sure to wear socks) as you settle into your seat.
The noise level from jet engines may not bother many folks. For me, the constant drone of the engines leaves me drained and zaps my energy. Also, at times there are noisy children, babies or even overly chatty seatmates that tend to make a flight uncomfortable. To survive economy class flights, I have found two solutions for the noise issue that work for me. I always carry inexpensive foam earplugs. They are easy to sip in the ear and they reduce the noise levels dramatically. These work great when all I need is a little peace and quiet during a flight. I also invested in a pair of premium noise cancellation earplugs that remove the engine noise yet still allow me to hear conversations. Another benefit of these headphones is that I can listen to my music, podcasts or even the airplane movie during the flight.
All too often economy class no longer serves food during most domestic flights depending on the airline and the length of the flight. So I just pack my own snacks. A light and healthy snack kit carried in a ziploc baggie takes the hunger edge off and keeps my nourished with food that I like. I take veggies, fruit pieces or even a good trail mix. Sometimes I’ll pack a good protein bar or two also. Avoiding fatty foods helps keep me from feeling lethargic and tired upon arrival at my destination.
By checking in for the flight early—before arriving at the airport—I avoid the extra hassle of lines and time at the airport. I get to pick my seat and print my boarding pass or download it to my cellphone. That way, I head directly to the security area unless I happen to check baggage (which I try and avoid if at all possible).
Water, Water, Water
Staying hydrated during flights is another magic trick to arrive refreshed and energized. Airline cabins are notorious for dry air that that sucks out your energy. I avoid all liquids except water. And, although the airline attendants provide a drink or two, it is never enough for me. So I learned long ago, to always take along my own water bottle on every flight, no matter the duration. The longer the flight, the more important it is for me to drink plenty. Be sure your water bottle is empty if you take it through security. Then fill it up prior to boarding. Alternatively, you can usually buy bottled water once past the security areas. Soda pop, juice, coffee with sugar just tend to create a sugar high followed by a sugar induce crash that zaps my energy level. Water is the best remedy for staying hydrated and avoiding this crash.
Planes are crowded and serve thousands of passengers each month. Just imagine the germs residing in your seat area from the many prior flyers. Each area is not disinfected like a hospital room. Therefore, I learned to survive economy class flights (and any other class also), by carrying a small supply of disinfecting wipes in my carry-on bag. The first thing I do upon arriving at my seat is to thoroughly wipe down all surfaces where germs are thriving, including the tray table, the tray table lock, the seat belt buckle, the armrests, the video/audio control area, the seat recline button, the seat pocket area, etc. I then relax, adjust my clothing layers, remove my shoes, insert my earphones and relax and enjoy the flight knowing that the money I saved by flying economy class will be better spent at my destination.