First Class on an Economy budget

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.

Related articles:
The best suitcase for travelling
10 things to always take in your carry on
Seven ways to get flight upgrades

Written by SJ


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