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10 ways to make Economy feel like First Class

Kicking back in a First-Class seat, champagne in hand, is the stuff of traveller dreams. It’s that once-in-a-lifetime, bucket-list ticket that’s always just out of reach. But why should that level of luxury be reserved for the ultra-wealthy? Use these 10 hacks and your Economy seat can rival budget-busting First Class any day. Fake it till you make it, right?

1. Get off to a flying start

Thought the world’s best airline lounges were only for the celebs? Think again. You can now bag yourself a pass for a lot less than you think. With more than 1,000 airport lounges around the world, there’s plenty to take advantage of for a one-off fee. Apps like Priority Pass and LoungeBuddy are a great place to start. Why spend your holiday money on that airport breakfast and mortgage-worthy bottle of water when you can put it towards a lounge pass and get all your food included?

Get inspired – search ‘everywhere’

2. Dress (not) to impress

There are three important things to remember when flying: comfort, comfort and comfort. If you want to achieve the comfort of First Class, we’re talking elasticated waistbands, stretchy materials, sexy flight socks and fluffy jumpers. But if you don’t want to turn up to the airport in your PJs, we understand. Instead bring a comfy set of clothes and get changed once you’re onboard.

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3. Bag the best seat

Just because you’re not up front with the generous leg room doesn’t mean you can’t get a good seat. So which one is the best seat for you?

Man watching a film on his own device
  • If you’re ready to snooze… pop on your noise-cancelling headphones and opt for a window-seat near the front of the plane. If you’re by the window you won’t get disturbed by other passengers wanting to get in and out. The front of the plane is also quieter as the engines are located under the wings, further down the plane.
  • If you’re all about the extra legroom… you probably already know to pick an aisle seat, but the emergency exit rows are the golden tickets with the most space. On many planes the ‘bulkhead’ rows are worth checking out too. These are the seats directly behind any walls and curtains that split up the plane. There are no seats in front of you, so no one will be reclining into your face. Bonus.
  • If you want the best service… go for an aisle seat towards the back of the plane, where you’ll normally find the flight attendants. If you call for their attention, they’ll be with you before anyone else.
  • And if you still want another seat… don’t forget to have a look around when you’re on board. Sometimes you’ll find whole rows are empty and let’s face it, three seats are better than one. You’ll be able to lift up the armrest and potentially lie down across a full row. So keep your eyes open and ask the cabin crew if you can move – who knows, they might even take you to First Class…
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4. Pamper yourself

Now you’re sitting comfortably, it’s time to settle in. A few simple essentials can really amp up the luxury in your Economy seat. It’s no secret that recycled plane air wreaks havoc with your skin so fighting it before it gets out of hand is always a good idea. Go on, treat yourself to those lavish miniatures in Duty Free.

Woman using lip balm

The pamper kit essentials:

  • Lip balm – apply a balm every hour to stop your lips from cracking. A petroleum jelly like Vaseline is great for dabbing on other areas of dry skin too.
  • Face and hand cream – save on your liquid allowance and get a small gentle face cream that’ll work for your hands as well.
  • Face wipes – If you wore make-up to the airport, a face wipe is the quickest and easiest way to remove it at the start of the flight. You’ll save it from smudging all over your face when you fall asleep and your skin will thank you for it when you land.
  • Gel eye patches or a sheet face mask – an easy way to add a touch of luxury to proceedings without breaking the bank. Don’t worry about how terrifying you may look to your fellow flyers – you won’t ever see them again, and they’ll no doubt remember you as the one with the radiant pre-holiday skin.
  • Eye drops – watching the latest blockbusters, reading and sleeping, along with the dry air can take its toll on your eyes. A couple of refreshing eye drops can wake you up ready for the next movie.
  • Tooth brush and toothpaste – if you’re flying overnight or on a long-haul trip, you don’t need to abandon your normal routine. A quick brush will make a huge difference to how you feel.
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5. Pack a travel pillow

We’re just not meant to sleep sitting upright, but when a 10-hour flight awaits you, you need to be prepared. Those free cushions don’t cut it and they won’t give you the support your neck needs. If you suffer from lower back pain, you may want to consider a lumbar cushion for the small of your back too.

Key things to remember:

  • Comfort – it seems obvious, but don’t just go for the most stylish or  affordable pillow on the market. If it doesn’t make you feel like you’re floating on a cloud, skip it. Don’t be afraid to go into a shop and try them out for yourself rather than ordering one online.  
  • Longevity – if you’re a frequent flyer, invest in something that’s going to be with you for the long-haul.
  • Compactness – travelling with a pillow doesn’t seem like the most space-saving travel hack, especially with so many budget airlines only accepting one item of hand luggage. If you’ve got to pack it away and carry it on your travels, it’s worth looking for styles that deflate, or fold up small.
  • Mode of transport – are you going to be using it for that epic (but long) road trip or on a scenic train journey across the UK? Think about all the uses for your travel pillow and make sure it’s suitable for every eventuality.
Road trip anyone?

6. Give yourself some space

As more people travel with small, hand-luggage suitcases, airlines often ask flyers to put their bags in the hold. Ideally, you’ll want your luggage in the overhead locker, so you can keep all your luxuries close to hand, and more importantly, to keep the space by your feet free. This is essential for your comfort. Don’t cram it full of bags and luggage and deny yourself the legroom.

Find space somewhere new

7. Put on a show

The quality of in-flight entertainment has skyrocketed in the last couple of years, but if you just want to watch the next episode of your new favourite series, then do it. Download those episodes and movies to your own device before you travel and binge-watch the flight away – just make sure they’re fully charged before you set off. Or, pay a small fee to use in-flight WiFi so you’ll feel like you’re right back in the comfort of your own home (well, nearly).

8. Treat your feet

On a long-haul flight, the last thing you want is for your feet to swell up in uncomfortable shoes. Give them some breathing space, kick off your shoes and switch them for some warm and fluffy socks or your favourite slippers. You can then tuck your feet onto your seat and get really comfortable, like they’re no doubt doing in First Class.

9. BYOF (Bring Your Own Food)

If the airline offerings aren’t your cup of tea – and let’s be honest, they’re not quite Michelin-star standard yet – bring your own gourmet meal with you. With departure lounges offering so many food outlets, stock up before you board. And why not order a little glass of bubby or your favourite tipple for some added indulgence (but remember, you can’t drink your Duty Free alcohol on board)?

10. Try your luck

Even with the best preparation, we know an Economy seat won’t quite match up to the luxury that awaits in First Class, but there’s still a chance you can get there without paying. We’re not suggesting you storm the plane and demand your rightful place, but we have done our research. Simply asking for an upgrade and being loyal to your airline can both do the trick. Read our 10 ways you can get bumped up to business and fingers crossed, you’ll be soaring in style without the price tag one day soon.

And if you want the best deals on those premium seats, search flights right here.

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