The price difference between first class fare and traveling coach on an international trip can be quite substational. At the time this post was published, a round trip coach/economy flight from JFK to Dublin was $520.93 when booked four months in advance; on the same flight a first class ticket totaled $4366.36. Since most of us don’t have that amount of discretionary income (or prefer to spend our money on more tangible goods) here are five travel tips to make your coach experience more comfortable:
* TIP #1: Select the Right Seat. There are a lot of apps and websites out there that can provide you with information on selecting the best possible seat in the coach cabin—www.seatguru.com and http://www.seatalerts.com are both good options. But if downloading these apps seem like too much work, take it from this former flight attendant—the best coach seats are directly behind the first class divider or in the emergency exit rows. Although aircrafts differ, these locations generally give you the most leg room. On the flip side, there are obviously seats you should avoid. These include seats adjacent to the galley where the flight crew prepares for the cabin service (causing chronic noise pollution) or seats close to the lavatory. (The Blue Juice would like to refrain from providing crude details as to why proximity to the lavatory should be avoided. Use your imagination)
* TIP #2: Use COMFORTABLE Headphones. The first law of air travel states that you WILL sit within audible range of people who annoy you with their shrill voice or in-flight hobbies. A good pair of headphones will drown out the snorer in seat 30A, or even the restless toddler whose parents were too responsible to sedate their child with Benadryl before the flight. If typical headphones hurt your ears, or you are looking for the most comfortable solution, consider a pair of “sleep phones”. The flat ear buds and soft headband allow you to fall asleep and can be worn comfortably for hours on end. I never fly without them. You can get a pair on amazon here: Cozy SleepPhones
* TIP #3: BYOF—Bring Your Own Fare. The food in coach is sometimes less than stellar, and the quality varies between airlines. Purchase something decadent in the airport, or bring some snack foods from your neighborhood market; if the food is considered a solid you can take it through the TSA security check point. So, treat your flight like a picnic with some decadent cheese and crackers to pair with your in-flight glass of wine, or splurge on some rich dark chocolate. Trust me, you will feel a lot less depressed when the flight crew comes to hand you your Salisbury steak that tastes like Fancy Feast. If you have questions about what food you can bring, check out this section of the TSA website: https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/whatcanibring/food
* TIP #4: Get Some Exercise. You don’t need to get up mid flight and break out your jump rope (in fact, please don’t) but walking up and down the cabin every couple of hours will help with your circulation. And If you are prone to swelling in your extremities during long flights, these short trips down the aisle will help.
* Tip #5: Do Not Use the Space Under the Seat in Front of You for Carry On Storage. On a long flight you need all the leg room you can get. Why would you take up an extra square foot of space with superfluous items that you could store elsewhere? As a flight attendant I have seen people shove blankets, multiple books, complete wardrobe changes, large jackets, and duty free shopping bags full of products under the seat. Do not do this. Everything except absolute essentials should be stored in the overhead compartment. Your medication, wallet, water bottle, iPad, and other important items can be adequately housed in the seat back pocket in front of you. If you want to keep an eye on your stored belongings (translation: you’re paranoid that someone on your flight wants to steal your stuff) do not use the overhead compartment directly above your seat; use the overhead compartment across the aisle instead. This allows for a clear line of sight—so you’ll be able to see the mythical in-flight thief steal your emergency underwear and duty free perfume.
So, there you have it: five tips for a more comfortable coach experience. And if these aren’t helpful, The Blue Juice recommends you simply increase your alcohol intake.