While flying business or first class is the dream for many of us, there are so many ways to upgrade your flight experience to make your economy flight better. So if you can’t quite stretch for the lie flat seats and suites that some of the many luxury travel influencers show off, here’s some ways that you can make that economy flight that little bit more luxurious.
How to make your economy flight better and more luxurious:
Not all of these tips will work for all travellers but I hope you’ll find some gems and ways to hack your flight experience to make it that little bit better. Long haul flights are different beasts to more short haul trips but the aim is always to arrive fresh and stress free!
My main tip is to think about what stage of flying you normally get most stressed about and fix that first!
Before flying you want to make sure you’ve utilised any hacks or bought upgrades in advance.
Choose arrival and departure times wisely
When you’re booking that flight my biggest tip for you is to not just look at the price. Now after a lifetime of always going for the budget options this is hard for me to always put in practice but it’s worth it.
The cheapest flights will often have either extremely early departure times or arrival times. A 6am flight might not sound too bad until you calculate what time you’ll need to leave the house to get to the airport on time. Might as well not sleep sometimes! If it’s short haul you might also arrive before you get access to your accommodation
At the other end, arriving at 11pm onwards will mean a late night transfer and check in at your hotel which might not work well depending on your destination.
If you can, aim for an arrival time that will give you time to check in AND explore your destination when you arrive.
Add a hotel night before your flight
If you don’t have an option to choose a good departure time for your flight and you’re going to be setting off at any time in the morning then I highly recommend getting a hotel room at the airport the night before.
My best flight experience was when we stayed at the airport hotel that was walking distance to the terminal – so chilled to be able to just wake up, have breakfast and walk to our flight.
These are normally the more expensive option, although it’s always worth checking to see if they have any deals – it might not be as much as you think. Have a search below and see what comes up?
Slightly cheaper are hotels near the airports that also offer a shuttle to the door of the terminal. Some of these offer airport parking too so do check those out if you might be driving your own car – it can be a really cost effective way of doing it.
Choose your ideal seats
We all have our favourite seats on a flight don’t we?
For me it’s always the window seat, preferably not directly over the wing so I can see the world as we go by, and leg room doesn’t really bother me – that’s because I’m only 5ft 0 though!
If you’re taller you might want to make an aisle seat a priority or even the seats by the emergency exits. Beware though that if you choose the latter they sometimes ask that you are fit and able to help others in an emergency if needed.
Look for inexpensive upgrade options
Some airlines have some small upgrade opportunities, especially the more budget airlines that don’t have anything other than economy passengers.
You might be able to get early or priority boarding, extra luggage allowance or be able to choose your seats earlier than others. Although I do begrudge having to pay extra sometimes, it can be worth it.
Our Ryanair flight from Venice to home was so much better because we could board earlier, get our bags in the overhead locker and be settled in our seats before anyone else was on board. If you’ve been on the budget flights you’ll know how busy it can get once everyone is on and trying to fit their luggage in!
I never need an excuse to look at new luggage and suitcases! Having good luggage that you can manoeuvre easily and that can be organised well is so important for your flight experience. You don’t want to be falling over dodgy wheels or worrying whether it will make it through the trip in one piece. Get some good pieces and you’ll not look back!
We got a new carry on recently by American Tourister which is owned by the Samsonite brand, but not quite with the premium price tag. It’s held up really well and I definitely recommend it! You can see their products here.
Look into a luggage transfer service
Some airports and destinations might offer a transport service for your luggage so you don’t need to worry about trudging around with it. If you’re travelling with a family or just want to not worry about your suitcases and having to pick them up from the carousel after the flight then it’s worth looking into some of the options available.
SendMyBag.com is one company that is offering this worldwide
At the airport:
This is all about making the check in and waiting process that little bit nicer! You definitely don’t need to be in first class to do these.
Arrange airport transfers (both ways)
The best way to make your flights more luxurious is to cut the stress out and arriving at an airport is one of those stresses. Public transport or driving yourself and needing to park is, of course, an option but I always regret it when I do that. I much prefer to get a private transfer which means I don’t need to worry about traffic, my luggage, or catching the right bus.
They drop you off at the door and you’re refreshed and ready for checking in. What could be better?
Make sure to arrange it at the other end too so you can get to your destination fuss free too!
Check out Get Your Guide and search for your airports to see what transfer services they have listed.
Use the airport lounges
You can’t change the fact that you’ll have time to kill once you’ve checked in and gone through airport security. One way to make your time more stress free and luxurious is to book into an airport lounge.
Some lounges are just for business or first class passengers but most of them are open to all passengers if you buy a pass.
They all differ of course but normally you can get drinks, some snacks and a much more comfortable and quiet waiting area. Definitely worth the extra as it just sets up the vacation in that style that you want to continue in!
If you travel a lot then a Lounge Pass can be a good investment and will repay itself in no time – check out Priority Pass here
Have organised hand luggage
Having your hand luggage organised is another way to keep your time at the airport and on the plane stress free. Make sure to keep your documents to hand in a special place – I like to use a travel wallet like this one.
If you’re going carry on only then I also recommend travel packing cubes to keep your clothes and items all separated – honestly you’ll thank me if you ever have to go searching in your bags for something!! We bought some e-bags packing cubes when we first travelled over 8 years ago and they are still going strong – highly recommended!
You’ll also want to make sure you’ve organised your toiletries and electrical items for going through security. Again, nothing causes stress than having to dig around and sort this out while people are waiting around you!
Get yourself a clear toiletry bag with any and all liquids in and it’s super easy to bring that out then.
Take a water bottle and refill it once you’re through security. Most airports now have drinking water that you can do this with and it will help you once you’re on the flight to be hydrated, especially for your skin.
I love the Chilly’s bottles because they are really sturdy and the one I have has lasted me for ever but there are loads of cute bottles out there.
Choose your travel outfit – stick with layers
Make sure you think about your travel outfit well. I always like to stick with comfortable and casual clothes with some layers so you can cover up while in the airport or on the plane and then be able to be cooler when you land if the temperature is different. Jeans are always a good idea!
If you wear sandals then I recommend having some socks easily to hand in case your feet get cold.
A light scarf is also good to cover yourself on a plane incase it gets chilly and you’ve not got a jacket with you.
on the plane:
Finally we’re on the flight – now it’s about comfort, blocking out the annoying bits and arriving fresh!
Take good earphones!
Having a good set of earphones that will cancel out the noise of the other passengers is a must to create that better flight experience.
From my own experience I really recommend getting some wireless options for use with your own devices – having to worry about cords, especially if others need to get past you at any point on the journey is not fun and we managed to break one of our headphones because they got caught on one trip. Thankfully they were cheap!
I’m in love with our new AirPods right now but I also love these House of Marley headphones – we actually have 3 pairs in our house because we love them so much. They fold, they are made from sustainable materials and they are wireless – all you need!
Decide on your entertainment of choice
If it’s books make sure you have something new and juicy to read that will engross you for the journey. If it’s films or music then make sure your devices are all charged and ready to go. Decide what you want to do beforehand and you’ll not be bored for a minute and your flight will be over before you know it.
Use a travel pillow
They feel like they might be a pain to bring along but travel pillows are worth their weight in gold especially if you’re on a long flight or you might want to get some sleep before you arrive. Yes you might think that a jacket or sweater bundled up will do, but you’ll regret it a couple of hours in (or maybe not even that long!)
My favourite ones we’ve had have been just cushions shaped for your neck. If space is going to be an issue for you there’s an option of blow up pillows or ones like these where they compress into a travel bag.
Your airline might provide some pillows if you ask so if you forget this one then you can give that a go, but if you’re on a super budget flight you probably won’t get the option!
Use a sleep mask
My husband swears by his sleep mask and it really gives that first class feeling – there’s a reason they hand them out there isn’t there? If sleep is a priority then cutting out light is the next step to that much better experience on your flight.
freshen up – have some face wipes/mints/spritzer
Finally, before you arrive at your destination you’ll want to freshen up. You might not get a hot towel like they sometimes offer in first class but you can make sure you’re refreshed with some soothing face wipes and some mints to freshen your breath.