Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class
Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Strategic Seating - How to Get the Best Economy Seat
When you're stuck in coach for a long-haul flight, getting the best seat possible can make a huge difference in your comfort and sanity. The good news is that with some strategic planning, you can often snag a better economy seat for free.
First, use online seating charts to view the layout and choose an ideal location. For more legroom, aisles and emergency exit rows are your best bet. However, these seats tend to go fast. If you can't reserve one ahead of time, check in online exactly 24 hours before departure – this is when most airlines assign seats. Sitting in the front section of economy is also preferable, since you'll be one of the first served meals and can deplane quicker.
Once onboard, don't be shy about asking fellow passengers if they'd like to switch seats. Often people traveling together got separated and will happily trade a middle for an aisle. Flight attendants may also allow you to move to an open exit row late in the boarding process for extra space. Just be polite and smile – kindness goes a long way.
Utilize seat selection tools and apps like SeatGuru, which provides detailed seat maps and user reviews for most flights worldwide. Input your airline, flight number and travel date to see a color-coded layout indicating the best and worst seats. Pay attention to the details like proximity to lavatories, galley noise, and window/aisle alignment.
Sign up for frequent flyer programs, even if you only travel once a year. Loyalty status often allows early access to preferred seats. Sites like Expertflyer display which seats are already assigned or blocked by the airline, helping you strategize.
Finally, don’t underestimate the power of gate agents. Be friendly, explain your situation kindly, and slip them a treat like chocolate or an airport gift card. They often have discretion to assign open seats, especially if you get bumped or have an issue. With amazing customer service and a bit of tact, you’d be surprised what you can accomplish.
What else is in this post?
- Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Strategic Seating - How to Get the Best Economy Seat
- Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Pack Smart - Only Bring the Essentials
- Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Stay Hydrated - Avoid Dehydration at All Costs
- Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Entertainment Hacks - Make Your Own Fun
- Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Sleep Strategies - Tips for Resting on a Plane
- Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Healthy Eating - What Foods Travel Well
- Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Stretch Breaks - Simple Exercises You Can Do in Your Seat
- Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Arriving Refreshed - Recover Quickly After Landing
Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Pack Smart - Only Bring the Essentials
When flying coach on a long trip, strategic packing is crucial for maintaining your comfort and sanity. With tiny seats and even tinier overhead bins, what and how much you bring plays a huge role. Follow these tips from seasoned travelers to pack smart and travel light.
First and foremost, stick to carry-on luggage only. Checking a bag when flying economy is asking for frustration and delays. Measure your bag’s dimensions before packing to ensure it fits in the overhead bin – airlines are getting stricter with size limits. Soft-sided duffels easily squash down, unlike hard-shell rolling bags.
Now for the tricky part: packing light enough to fit your essentials. Start by picking versatile clothing like jeans, black pants, and layers that mix and match. Limit bulky sweaters and jackets – it will be climate controlled onboard. Only pack 3-4 tops and 2 bottoms max. Skip heavy shoes and stick to a single pair of flats or sneakers.
Toiletries are space hogs, so pare it down. Toss lotions and hair products into 3 oz travel bottles and use mini shampoo/toothpaste from hotels. Multi-use wipes replace half your routine. Only pack meds you might actually need like pain relievers or antacids.
In-flight entertainment is a must. Store movies, songs and podcasts offline on your phone or tablet rather than lugging books. Consider noise-cancelling headphones to drown out ambient noise. A lightweight travel blanket provides extra coziness. Don’t forget charging cords and a backup battery.
Avoid non-essentials like hairdryers, irons and dress shoes – amenities and laundry services are available at layover hotels. Minimize jewelry and leave the laptop if possible. Place bulky items like sweaters into compression bags to save space. Wear your heaviest shoes and jacket onboard.
Lastly, choose your carry-on’s contents wisely. Keep snacks, medicine, valuables and anything you might urgently need in your seatback pocket or personal bag, not the overhead bin. Limit sharp objects that could be flagged as dangerous. Items like laptops and cameras are safest in your possession, not checked luggage.
Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Stay Hydrated - Avoid Dehydration at All Costs
Remaining properly hydrated should be a top priority when flying coach for endless hours. The dry air and recirculated cabin environment dehydrate your body fast, and cramped quarters make it tough to get up for water. Dehydration causes headaches, fatigue, confusion, and makes jet lag symptoms worse. Unfortunately, many travelers forget this critical aspect of long-haul flights.
Firstly, the air humidity onboard airplanes drops to just 10-20%, much drier than a desert. The pressurized cabin also restricts blood flow, furthering dehydration. Limit coffee, tea, juice, and alcohol, as caffeine and sugar act as diuretics. Stick to water - bring an empty bottle through security to fill post-checkpoint and request refills from the flight attendant throughout the trip. Set a reminder to drink 8 ounces every hour or couple of episodes of whatever you’re binging.
Getting up to use the restroom also helps stretch your legs and grab an extra cup of water. Try to avoid taking aisle seats to prevent constant disturbances, but don’t wait until you’re desperate to pee either. The bathrooms also tend to have excessively dry air, so splash cold water on your face too.
Staying hydrated helps minimize jet lag, according to studies. Dehydration exacerbates fatigue and cognitive function. So if you want to arrive refreshed and operating at full speed, water is your friend.
Melatonin supplements combined with ample hydration further reduce jet lag. Pop a small dose when you hit the sack at your destination to reset your circadian rhythms. Just don’t overdo it - take the smallest dose that helps you fall asleep.
What you eat and drink pre-flight matters too. Chuck the processed carbs and salt-laden snacks. These foods cause bloating and water retention, the opposite of hydration. Stick to fruits, veggies, nuts, whole grains, and lean protein. Soups and smoothies also pack hydration.
Coconut water contains electrolytes like potassium that you lose while flying. Infused waters with fruits/herbs add flavor. Just avoid chugging it - sip continuously. Stay away from sugary sports drinks like Gatorade too.
Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Entertainment Hacks - Make Your Own Fun
Being trapped in a tiny coach seat with lackluster in-flight entertainment for endless hours is a special kind of torture. While many airlines now offer seat-back screens, movies, and WiFi, the novelty wears off fast. And with only a few inches to maneuver, elaborate gaming setups or marathon movie sessions just aren’t possible.
Thankfully, experienced travelers have found some clever hacks to stay occupied and entertained for even the longest hauls. Making your own fun requires some strategic planning and creative thinking, but will save your sanity.
One of the simplest tricks? Magazines you can read cover-to-cover make time fly by. Choose engaging topics and save dense articles for later. Downloading magazines onto a tablet also avoids packing hassles. Sync your reading progress so you can resume on a layover without scrambling for bookmarks.
The key is mixing up activities frequently to avoid boredom. Alternate reading chapters of a novel with watching a downloaded TV episode. Swap distracting podcasts or music playlists for periods of work/asleep. Fidget toys like stress balls, playing cards, and small crafts give restless hands something to do during tedious stretches.
Multiplayer games with seatmates make tedious hours disappear. Teaching a fellow passenger a new game helps pass time enjoyably. Creative storytelling and “would you rather” questions spark fun conversations too. Just be mindful not to disturb those sleeping.
Transforming the plane into a movie theater is another pro move. Use a headrest hook to hang a tablet hands-free, a blanket to hide ambient light, and a neck pillow for comfort. Sync viewing with friends/family and do a group video call after to discuss.
Downloaded language learning apps with offline compatibility open new opportunities for engagement. Practicing a foreign language or learning basics before a trip helps jet lag adjustment. Yoga and meditation apps lead you through calming routines despite cramped quarters.
When all else fails, observe fellow passengers and invent fictional backstories. Imagine their hopes, dreams, and plans for the destination. Eavesdrop on conversations and imagine joining in. Feeling connected to strangers makes you feel less alone.
Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Sleep Strategies - Tips for Resting on a Plane
Getting adequate rest is crucial on long flights, yet sleeping on planes can be quite challenging. The ambient noise, cramped seats, and uncomfortable cabin temperature make dozing off difficult. For frequent fliers, however, sleep is a necessity for arriving refreshed and ready to work or explore a new destination. With the right gear, hacks, and pre-trip planning, achieving sufficient shuteye at 35,000 feet is totally possible.
First, strategic seating plays a major role in your ability to snooze. Bulkhead, exit row, and premium economy seats offer more legroom to stretch out. Sitting near the front minimizes engine noise and turbulence disturbances. Avoid restrooms and galley areas where traffic and meal service is constant. Don’t be shy about asking fellow passengers to trade seats either. The mobility and flexibility of aisle access aids sleep transitions too.
Experienced travelers also come prepared with an arsenal of sleep aids. Pack eyemasks, earplugs, and neck pillows to create an oasis of darkness, silence, and support. Noise-cancelling headphones with white noise or meditation tracks enhance sensory deprivation further. Comfort is key, so dress in soft, loose layers and skip restrictive belts and tight shoes you can easily slip off.
In terms of timing, take short naps at off-peak hours when cabin lights are off to align with your destination’s night. Set alarms to maximize rest based on the flight duration. Try to tank up on sleep the night before departure too. Avoid heavy meals, caffeine, and alcohol during flight, which disrupt sleep cycles. Download f.lux and meditation apps to lull you into slumber.
Don’t underestimate the power of psychology and mindset either. Associate seat recline, breathing exercises, and other pre-sleep routines with winding down. Let go of stress over lost time or what you’ll miss on the ground. And most importantly, surrender to the fact that restorative sleep will likely be unattainable. Catnaps, micro-sleeps, and mere rejuvenation are totally worthwhile. Any rest avoids the zombies you’ll see deplaning who resisted their fatigue.
Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Healthy Eating - What Foods Travel Well
Eating decent food is tough enough on lengthy flights, let alone finding healthy options. Plane meals are famously salty, fatty, and lacking in nutrients. And pre-packed snacks quickly become unappetizing at 30,000 feet. However, nutrition on long journeys is crucial for avoiding fatigue, headaches, and jet lag woes. Experienced jet-setters plan ahead and pack food that travels well.
The most obvious yet often forgotten option? Fruit and vegetables. Carrot/celery sticks with hummus, apples, clementines, grapes, and bananas hold up incredibly in-flight. Dried fruits like mango, pineapple, raisins, cranberries, and dates are other lightweight, non-perishable picks. They pack a nutritional punch and offer variety.
Nuts, seeds and trail mixes are also winners for their protein/healthy fats. Just steer clear of heavily salted nuts from the airport kiosk. DIY your own baggie instead with a mix of unsalted almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, dried fruit, and dark chocolate bits. Granola, protein bars, or Larabars likewise give an energy boost mid-flight.
For sandwiches, use spreads like avocado, nut butter, or pesto rather than mayo which spoils. Hearty breads like whole grain, rye, or bagels won’t get soggy. Heartier proteins like turkey, roast beef and tuna salad hold up better than deli meats. Add spinach, tomato and onion for nutrients. Wrap in foil then plastic to prevent drying out.
Don’t want to deal with perishables altogether? Instant oatmeal, protein shakes, or powdered smoothie mixes add nutrients, stay fresh and can be prepared on board. Boil-in-bag rice and dehydrated bean/chili mixes require only hot water too. Popcorn makes a light snack, just bring single portion bags. Shelf-stable hummus, tuna pouches, nuts, nut butters, protein bars, and crackers are other zero-prep options.
No matter what you prepare, the key is variety and small portions to nibble on throughout the flight. Filling up on a single heavy meal will leave you feeling gross. Avoid messy or strong smelling foods too. Prevent dehydration by drinking lots of water and foods with high water content.
Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Stretch Breaks - Simple Exercises You Can Do in Your Seat
Sitting still for endless hours during long-haul flights can wreak havoc on your body. Your muscles become stiff, joints ache, and body just feels generally tight and uncomfortable. Without regular movement, your circulation suffers too. This leads to that awful heavy leg feeling and swelling that makes already cramped seats sheer torture.
Frequent fliers know that strategically timed stretch breaks work wonders against the agony of immobility. Simple seated exercises right in your economy seat get your blood flowing again, loosen tense areas, and provide sweet relief without disturbing your neighbors. Best of all, they require zero extra space.
Start with ankle rolls, flexing your feet gently in all directions. Stretch your Achilles by pulling toes back towards your shin. Lift legs and do knee to chest hug repetitions. For your back, rotate wrists and elbows in circles. Look side to side, ear towards shoulder. Shrug shoulders up and down to target neck area. Sit tall then fold forward as if trying to touch toes to stretch spine and hamstrings.
Target glutes and hips with leg abductions, opening/closing knees together. Draw imaginary circles with knees to mobilize joints. For arms, make fists opening and closing fingers. Rotate bent elbows with palms facing up and down. Placing hands prayer position, press palms together and twist arms left to right.
Need a mental vacation from work or movies? Try mindful breathing exercises. Inhale for four counts, hold for four, exhale for six. Alternate flaring nostrils. Visualize breathing into tight areas and exhaling tension. Close eyes and meditate using belly breaths.
Don't underestimate scheduled breaks for walking the aisles too. Set a timer for every 45-60 minutes to take a short stroll. Stop by the restroom to splash water on your face too. Rotate between exercises and walking for maximum benefit.
Getting creative with improvised stretching tools helps as well. Use seatbelt, towels or scarves to assist certain movements. Tennis balls or massage tools like BackBuddies reach tough spots like shoulders and lower back. These tricks provide variation to prevent boredom and target unique areas.
Crammed In Coach: 4 Clever Hacks to Survive Long Flights in Economy Class - Arriving Refreshed - Recover Quickly After Landing
After endless hours crammed in a tiny coach seat, emerging from the airport feeling refreshed may seem impossible. Yet frequent travelers know that with the right recovery regimen, beating jet lag and avoiding post-flight exhaustion is totally doable. It does require some planning and strategic preparation though.
Start by being vigilant about hydration – drink water throughout the flight and avoid diuretics like coffee, tea and alcohol. Upon landing, keep guzzling H2O and consume fresh fruits/veggies to replenish nutrients. Avoid heavy, salty, or sugary junk food which can worsen fatigue. Light proteins and complex carbs give you steady energy.
Don’t rush off the plane in a frenzy either. Take a few moments to stretch thoroughly after the long period of stillness. Stroll the airport to get your blood flowing before hopping on a cramped bus or train. Moving your body helps overnight recovery too by reducing muscle stiffness.
If possible, avoid stressful tasks or work obligations right after landing. Give yourself an hour or two upon arrival to regroup, unpack, shower, and settle in. Adjusting to the destination time zone requires lowering cortisol levels, so relax versus rushing into action. Nap if you can, or at least put your feet up.
Once settled, get outside into natural light which resets your circadian rhythm. Take a peaceful stroll around your hotel’s neighborhood to introduce your senses. Light exercise also minimizes achy muscles from immobility. Just don’t overdo it when you’re exhausted. Plan an easy activity like a museum tour versus 10 miles of walking.
Peppermint and ginger teas aid digestion, soothing any stomach upset from time zone changes. Avoid heavy foods for the first day which can cause discomfort. Stick to broths, salads, yogurt and other light nourishing foods until you adapt.
Don’t forget the mental piece either. Meditation, deep breathing, visualization exercises calm an overstimulated mind. Remind yourself this discomfort is temporary and take each moment as it comes. Be patient with any crankiness – it will pass. Soothe travel anxiety and worries through journaling, music, or talking to a close friend or partner back home.