Cramped seats, annoying seatmates, sore muscles, and turbulence. These are all things we might think we have to accept as part and parcel of the flying experience... at least in coach. But, with a little planning — and a bit of creativity — it is quite possible that you can make your flight way more pleasant. Consider these tips and tricks as solid places to start:
1. DIY Your Own Poor Man's Version of First Class
In a recent Quora thread, frequent long-haul, coach-class flyer Peter Huang offered a frankly genius tip for stretching your legs that we are probably adopting on our next flight. First, he pays extra to book the exit row seat. So far, so predictable.
However, he turns his exit row seat into a "kind of a pauper's version of business class" by bringing a foldable storage box onboard. It "fits nicely in carry-on," he says" and when turned upside down serves as a functional foot rest." Of course, he only uses it at cruising altitude (the seat front area must be clear during takeoff and landing) but, so far, has had no complaints.
2. At Least Acknowledge Your Flight Attendant... Because It Might Pay Off
"You know what the worst part of my job is?" Flight attendant and columnist Amanda Pleva asked readers at Flyertalk recently. "It isn’t cleaning up vomit or dealing with an angry passenger yelling in my face... It is when I stand at the aircraft door greeting people and get ignored. To have someone clearly see me and ignore my 'hello' and walk on by is the most dehumanizing experience."
Pointing out that it is mostly economy customers who give her the silent (rude) treatment, which, by the way totally works against their best interests, she adds, "You would be amazed at how far politeness and friendliness goes. Even if you don’t think we notice, we do. And it gets returned whenever possible — maybe it’s a free drink, maybe we tap you on the shoulder and shoo you into an empty row. Or maybe it’s just extra-attentive service!"
3. Bring a Tennis Ball
Sore muscles are no joke, especially when the cramp creeps in only halfway through a 14 hour flight. This is the point where you should whip out that tennis ball you were smart enough to pack in your carry on (it's TSA approved). Tiphero has this tip: "Performing a self-massage" by rolling a tennis ball over your muscles "improves blood circulation to targeted parts of the body. It’s also a great technique for reducing pain and tension in the muscles. Tennis balls are small enough to carry onto a plane with you and using one during a flight won’t take up much space." Bonus tip: Rolling golf balls under your feet also make for a decent DIY massage.
4. Pick the Right Seat to Avoid Turbulence
Few people enjoy turbulence, or the nauseating feeling of air sickness that comes with it. If you are a particularly nervous flyer, that's all the more reason to choose your seat carefully. AZ Central has this advice. "The best seats on the plane for reduced turbulence intensity are those directly over the wings of the plane. This typically means somewhere between rows 10 and 30, but check with your airline for the exact rows, as they vary by aircraft."
5. Take Advantage of Free Stuff
Drinks, live TV, Wi-Fi, even free gifts and nannies to keep your kids occupied. All these things can make for a happier flight and all are available in coach. OK, maybe not all on the same flight at the same time, but you need to at least educate yourself about the perks that are out there... yes, even in coach.
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