How to Fly Coach Like a First Class Traveler

There’s nothing worse than sitting in the coach section of an airplane after walking past those gigantic, comfortable-looking seats in first class. While flying a coach isn’t anyone’s favorite way to travel, there are a few things you can do to make your experience a little more enjoyable.



Look for airlines that don’t treat coach passengers as though they’re third-rate. JetBlue, for example, offers coach seats with 38 inches of legroom as opposed to the standard 31 inches most airlines offer. Southwest and Virgin Atlantic offer spacious seating arrangements and even offer snacks and pillows at no additional cost.



Let’s face it. Airline food today really stinks. Pack a few snacks, sandwiches, or even tea bags into your carry on and you’re guaranteed to have at least something appetizing for the trip. If you bring an empty water bottle you can fill it at a water fountain after you’ve gone through security. You can purchase beverages at the airport newsstands, too. They may be more expensive but they won’t be as expensive (or as small) as the things you get on the plane.



Visit websites like to get an idea of the seat layout on the aircraft you plan to fly on. You may find that seats in exit-rows have more leg space. On the other hand, seats right in front of an exit row won’t recline all the way because they become a hazard in the event of an emergency. Request specific placement if you wish but don’t be surprised if your airline tries to tack on an extra charge.



Never rely on anyone but yourself to keep you entertained. What happens if the in-flight movie really stinks or the stuff in the SkyMall magazine is outdated? Boring. Bring books, your iPod, a magazine, or even a small game to keep you and your traveling companions occupied.



Most airlines allow you to pick your seats when you book your flight but when you check in you’ll have another chance to make a change. You can check in about 24 hours before your flight’s scheduled departure time and at that time pick better seats. If you fly on Southwest, where seats aren’t assigned, checking in early will help you find your way to group A, or the group that gets to board first.



If noise is a concern, consider throwing a pair of high-quality headphones into your travel bag. Bose makes great quiet headphones but you don’t have to go top of the line if you don’t want to. Even the small low-tech earplugs, the kind you can get for $5 at WalMart, will work wonders when it comes to blocking out sound. Besides, it’s better to bring your own headphones for movies – the airline will charge you extra if you have to rent from them.



A few airlines are charging extra for seats in more comfortable sections of the plane (still in coach – sorry). US Airways and Air Tran, for example, will let you reserve a row seat while airlines like JetBlue and United will let you reserve seats at the front of the plane because they have just a few inches of extra leg room.



Traveling can be stressful but there’s no reason to be rude or grumpy. The nicer you are, the nicer others will treat you – including your flight attendants and anyone you may need help from later on. Keep a positive mindset and your flight will go that much smoother.



Sometimes those Frequent Flyer Miles are good for things other than just airline ticket purchase. After your affiliate yourself with an airline you’ll find you may receive special perks. These include exit row seats without an extra charge, special check in privileges, and first seating on the plane.



The best way to be as comfortable as your counterparts in first class is to simply shut your eyes and get a little bit of sleep. Pack an eye pillow, small shawl, and even an eye mask if you’re going to be on a long flight. A well rested traveler is a happier traveler.

You don’t have to spend a ton of cash to fly in first class, especially if you aren’t traveling far. Making a few changes to the way you book your flights and carrying a few extra items in your carry-on luggage will ensure you’re as comfortable as possible from takeoff to landing.

Founder and author at Tho Dia Media, loves photography and travel.