Flying: how to make Economy feel like First Class

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Just because you can’t afford a first-class ticket, or don’t want to spend that much on an airline seat, doesn’t mean you can’t have a luxurious travelling experience.

Here’s how to recreate the rich flying experience on an economy budget.

1. Your chariot awaits
One of the easiest ways to instantly feel like a passenger down the pointy end is to get driven to the airport. Whether you choose a cab, Uber or private driver, door-to-door service takes one massive weight off your mind and allows you to sit back and relax as you are whisked off to the airport. And because the rich and famous don’t do things in halves, make sure you organise a similar mode of transport at the other end to save you staggering around after a flight trying to get to your accommodation.

P.S.: A friend or family member is a perfectly good private driver. Bonus points if you can get them to wear a chauffeur style hat and allow you to sit in the back while shouting, “drive on James” in your poshest accent. (You know I’m only kidding, right?)

2. Pay for extras
While generally I don’t personally see the point of paying for airline extras, if you want a first-class experience on an economy fare, this is rather essential. Not having to worry about baggage allowance, being able to choose your seat, and having access to food, drink and entertainment: all these things will make your flight far more enjoyable.

If you’re checking in, you can always ask for an upgrade or express pass through security. There’s no guarantee you’ll get either, but if you don’t ask, I’m 100 per cent sure you won’t get any free passes …

3. Allow for lounge time
As most first class flyers have access to the airport lounges, there’s a major incentive for them to arrive early, eat as much free buffet food as possible, down some free wine while reading a complimentary magazine and perhaps have a shower if it takes their fancy.

Schedule in some extra time to kick back and unwind before boarding rather than running to the gate and finding yourself falling into your seat a frazzled mess. Do some duty-free shopping, find a nice café or restaurant at which to have a bite and drink, or consider purchasing a lounge pass – whatever you choose, you’ll find yourself boarding the plane in a much more peaceful manner.

4. Plan for the plane
Create your own first-class kit by packing in your carry on:

  • make-up wipes

  • moisturiser

  • deodorant

  • toothbrush and toothpaste

  • lip balm

  • hand cream

  • eye mask

  • ear plugs

  • neck pillow

  • noise-cancelling headphones

  • a phone or tablet loaded with your favourite music and entertainment (with charging cable)

  • a good book or magazine

  • a large bottle of water

  • some healthy but still delicious snacks

  • a pen for filling out documents or writing your memoirs/signing autographs from all your fans in economy

  • a scarf or blanket

  • warm socks.

It’s a good idea to change clothing at the first available opportunity if you’re on a longer flight, so you can be comfortable. Take a warm jumper and pair of comfy pants to wear – this mean you’ll feel nice and fresh when you change back into your clothes at the other end!

5. It’s all about the exit
As you’ve probably noticed, celebs are always snapped as they step out of the airport doors. Take a leaf out of their book and wear a comfortable outfit that is still smart and makes you feel fabulous – quite the opposite of what flying does. If all else fails, sunglasses are a great way to feel and look far more mysterious and famous than you may be in reality.

What do you do to make your travel experience as pain free and enjoyable as possible? We’d love to hear in the comments.

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Written by SJ

20 Comments

Total Comments: 20
  1. 0
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    Good luck trying to look smart & fabulous upon arrival after a 24 hour flight in economy class !
    Those that manage to do so are most likely situated in the pointy end of the plane !

  2. 0
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    I’ve done several long haul flights in economy and nothing makes it feel like 1st class sorry.
    My only tip is dont eat much or drink alcohol and i take meds which make me drousy so hopefully I can doze through a lot of the flight. I also forget about trying to look ok , just be comfy .

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      I agree, nothing worse than eating too much and I couldn’t care less what I look like. That I might look less attractive to women as I get off a plane is hilarious. A stopover so you can sleep in a bed is a good idea. The seats in planes are far too small for me and I can’t get comfortable.

  3. 0
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    I travel to London about every 18 months. My last flight was premium economy on the long leg which isnt cheap but I arrived feeling so much better. Much more leg room and wider seats and 2, 3 & 2 seats layout. On the way back I paid extra for an exit seat in economy, yes they are charging now, and the leg room is amazing. Another tip is to do one leg, stop for a good while or overnight wherever your route stops, have a shower, a good sleep watch a bit of telly and a nice breakfast at the airport and you feel so much better for this break. Much better than paying those ridiculous prices in first class and you get to feel clean and refreshed at the cost of a room in the transit hotel at the airport, Changi in my case and not that expensive.

    • 0
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      Casper, I flew Upper Class/First Class in 2013. On the stop over in Hong Kong, I was offered the opportunity to use the ‘Revival’ Lounge when I arrived in LHR. Took that up – so relaxing not having to worry about trying to get to the rental car office with the rest of the passengers. Took the time to shower, relax, have a forearm massage and all the cooked breakfast one could eat. Couldn’t check into the hotel until 3pm, so I took the time to relax before trying to battle the M25 traffic 🙂

  4. 0
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    Ever tried taking a large bottle of water onto a plane. Where does this “experienced” traveller come from?

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      Heck; try taking even a small bottle of spring water on to a plane (even one bought AT the airport) And In 2014, in both directions on a trip to the US, I went through hell trying to get my (small) bottle of distilled water onto the plane, even with the CPAP machine with me, AND a note from the respiratory clinic stating that distilled water is the HIGHLY preferred one (over tap or spring water) for the machine. I was going Perth (via change in Abu Dhabi) to NY return; one medium-long leg and one long-leg; needed to sleep with it). I offered to drink from the bottle to show it was just distilled water, but they still kicked up a fuss.

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      yes Maggie I agree, just recently I travelled from Melbourne to Brisbane and at check point my small bottle of water was emptied and bottle given back to me so I could fill it at a water fountain

  5. 0
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    Ever tried taking a large bottle of water onto a plane. Where does this “experienced” traveller come from?

  6. 0
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    Just returned to Oz from a trip to Japan with Singpore Airlines – the first leg, from Sydney to Singapore was a nightmare – only two (2) toilets in the rear of the plane (“cattle class”), one of which was “out of order – excuse please”. The remaining toilet, with a large number of men in that area whose aim was poor, was soon awash with urine and stank horribly. “Cattle class” seemed to be the order of the day for the particular tour company I was stuck with, who advertised their services for “seniors” but failed to deliver on the promises of their glossy brochures and advertising blurb. At least the return plane trip was a bit more comfortable – after I whinged to the lass at the check-in counter in Japan about the horrible conditions coming out, she gave me a seat in the rear with no-one next to me – a luxury indeed!

  7. 0
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    So you can take large bottles of water on your flight now???

  8. Profile Photo
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    You can take bottled water on – some – flights. Just returned from UK last night, could take water on board in Manchester and Melbourne but not Hong Kong. Water must be either purchased or re-filled AFTER going through customs. As for resting well in economy – tell em their dreamin’. ????

  9. 0
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    When we travel we books trips that say you and your partner fly free and then we upgrade to premium economy. Last time we did this the plane only had first class and economy. First class is divine. Yep, we paid for premium economy and got to fly first class.


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