That feeling when you turn left toward the back of the plane, away from the luxury of first class, with its fancy food service and champagne... total bummer.
Indeed, flying coach is not an elegant experience in many ways. But, believe it or not, you can get various amenities for free even in your own cabin — if you know where to look. For instance:
1. Wi-Fi and Messaging
Many flights have Internet options these days — but they're often expensive addons. However, things are looking up in that regard: Delta announced that mobile messaging (iMessage, Facebook Messenger, and WhatsApp) is free for all aboard — starting right away. JetBlue already has Free Wi-Fi from gate to gate. T-Mobile subscribers also get an hour of free text and web on any flight, regardless of carrier.
2. Live TV
If you’re flying with Southwest or JetBlue, you’ll be able to stay well-connected with live TV so you’re not behind on the latest episode of Real Housewives. “Both carriers offer live TV in the sky — and best of all, it’s completely free. Be sure to bring your own device though in case your aircraft isn’t equipped with seat-back entertainment!” saysThe Points Guy founder Brian Kelly.
Delta just announced that people in the economy cabin on international flights can now get free prosecco. (The airline already offered wine and beer on these long-haul flights.) But that’s not all — there’s a lot of other ways you can score a buzz. "Several airlines offer complimentary premium drinks for their most loyal customers (like JetBlue and United). But others, like Southwest, reward you with drink coupons for flying 10 one-way flights with the carrier,” says Kelly. It pays to be loyal.
4. Gifts for kids
For kids, flying can be an exciting — but intimating — experience. Special presents from the crew can help them fare better. “One unique item, and my favorite, is airplane wings for kids. American Airlines also offers a Junior Aviator Logbook, which pilots sign each time our son flies," says travel expert Johnny Jet.
For years, it seemed like meals in economy class seats were lost forever, and all we had left was peanuts or pretzels — if we were lucky. That has finally changed. “The major domestic carriers have (finally) brought free food back to economy customers on some of their longest domestic routes,” Kelly says. American, Delta and United offer customers free hot meals on a number of transcontinental routes. If this is an important factor to you, plan your booking around flights that do offer food — and consider that a factor in the ticket price, too.
Etihad Airways offers a free flying nanny — repeat: a free. flying. nanny!!! — for those parents who would love an extra pair of hands during a long flight. (Also known as all parents.)
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