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12 Ways to Make Flying Economy Feel Like First Class

Getting comfortable on an airplane can be a challenge, especially during long flights. We've polled travel bloggers who are happy to share their secrets for making flights more tolerable. With these tips, you should be ready to fly easier.

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Wear comfortable clothing

Clothing can influence the way you feel. Take advantage of this by dressing for comfort, says Susan Portnoy, writer at The Insatiable Traveler. ” This also applies when you’re deciding what to wear on a plane the next time you travel. Avoid belts, ties or big buttons, anything that can pinch, poke or constrict when you choose your wheels up ensemble,” she says. Instead, Portnoy says choose comfy fabrics that stretch. “You don’t have to look sloppy,” she adds. “I typically wear a pair of nice pair of black yoga pants, ballet flats, a sports bra (no hooks or underwires to poke and pull), a tank top and a yummy cashmere sweater to top it off. Warm or cold, I’m ready.”

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Store your belongings overhead

People tend to be leery of checking luggage, but it can make your flight easier. While it’s more convenient to keep your belongings close during flights, Julia Kuhn, a Honolulu-based blogger at The Traveling Traveler, advises keeping your onboard personal items to a minimum—and store them in the overhead space. “Avoid bringing a large personal bag that will need to be stored under the seat in front of you,” she says. “You can have more leg room.” Check out these ways to make your airport experience easier.

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Bring snacks and water

Either purchase bottled water in the airport or fill a water bottle from an airport water fountain. Drinking lots of water during flights will help you stay hydrated. Also, purchase snacks before you board or bring them. “Bring a snack; do not rely on airplane food to satisfy your hunger,” says Kuhn. Pack these healthy snacks to get you through the friendly skies.

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Splurge or upgrade if you can

Dena Roché, blogger at The Travel Diet, says splurge if you can, especially on long flights. “Paying for the extra space is always worth it on long flights,” she says. “If you can afford it, nothing makes you more comfortable than flying a long haul route in business or first. The difference in experience is night and day and you arrive at your destination ready to roll because you actually slept.”

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Be prepared for temperature changes

Pack a pashmina or a blanket scarf to be prepared for temperature changes on board. “Since airplanes are typically cold, it’s always handy to have a scarf that doubles as a blanket,” advises Katie Williams, blogger at The Traveling Spud. “Not only can you cover your body with it, but you can bunch it up to use as a pillow or neck rest. If I don’t have my scarf with me, my flight is always less comfortable, so I try and always remember it.” Find out 18 things you should never do an an airplane.

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Bring a pair of thick socks

Williams says if you remove your shoes, having socks on can keep you both comfortable and sanitary. “On almost every flight, I pack a pair of wool socks with me. The socks help when it gets cold on the plane and when I feel like taking off my shoes,” Williams says. “Because of the thickness, you can walk around the cabin without worrying about getting gross stuff on the bottom of your feet and don’t have to worry about putting your shoes back on.”

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Keeps your face glowing

Williams also recommends bringing face wipes and lip balm. “Airplanes are filled with dry air and are always leaving my face dry and lips chapped. I make sure to bring face wipes, Chapstick and sometimes a face mask to make my flight more comfortable and sooth my skin,” she continues. “It’s always nice to know (especially after long haul flights) that you have something to revitalize your skin and help you wake up.” Find out 22 things your flight attendant won’t tell you.

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Opt for the window seat

Carole Terwilliger Meyers who blogs at Travels with Carole says she prefers the window seat. “I get comfortable by snuggling into my usual window seat,” she says. “I like to take photos of take-off and landing, so I keep my iPhone handy.” Another tip, she uses brings a pillow and shawl to get cozy. ‘I like to use the shawl like a cocoon, but sometimes roll it up and use it for a pillow, and find it in general very soothing.” You also may be less disturbed in a window seat as fellow passengers will not have to wake you if they need to leave their seat.

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Choose a good neck pillow

Investing in a premium neck pillow is worth the cost, says Cory Varga, blogger at You Could Travel. Varga suggests picking a pillow based on your sleep style—whether you’re a side-sleeper or back sleeper. “A good pillow is tailored to your needs and specific requirements,” Varga says. The pillow should support your neck and allow restful sleep without neck-strain. Don’t miss these etiquette rules for flying on an airplane.

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Escape the environment

Varga says to sleep or relax bringing noise-cancelling head phones and an eye mask may help find your Zen. Although it may be tempting to drink booze to facilitate sleep, Varga says take a pass. “Travelers should avoid alcohol, even though it can be tempting to ask for that vodka -based cocktail. Instead, drink plenty of water and munch on good quality protein bars to avoid fatigue and beat the jet lag,” she says.

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Layer up

Travel blogger Neima Omas suggests dressing in layers to adapt to changes onboard. “I would start with the assumption that your plane is going to be too cold and advise they wear a couple of layers so people can adjust their clothing to their comfort,” Omas says. “Conversely, some planes are too hot, so if you layer up, you’ll be prepared for either situation.”

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Walk the aisles

You probably know how walking improves your health. The same is true at 20,000 feet: Taj Bates, who blogs at The YOLO Guide, says legs can swell up and become painful during or after your trip, so be sure to walk the aisles regularly when you’re on a long-haul flight. “The longer the flight, the longer you sit, which heightens your risk of getting a blood clot in your leg—aka deep vein thrombosis,” Bates says. “When you’re walking around, your calf muscles are regularly contracting, which helps maintain blood circulation in your lower leg.” Every two hours, get up from your seat to stretch and get the blood flowing. Next, here are 40 things your pilot won’t tell you.

Erica Lamberg
Erica Lamberg is an experienced travel and business writer based in suburban Philadelphia. Specializing in family travel, cruise experiences, and tips for enriching and affordable vacations. Beyond travel, Erica writes about personal finance, health and parenting topics. Her writing credits include Reader’s Digest, USA Today, Parents Magazine, Oprah Magazine and U.S. News & World Report. Her favorite city is Paris and she dreams about visiting Greece and Israel. She is a graduate of the University of Maryland at College Park and is married with two children.