Everybody's all about the upgrade. Sure, there's no harm in checking the best ways and tips to upgrade, but in practicality, many upgrades require miles or money, and even if you have both, you need to find space, leaving most of us in economy. No problem. There are tons of ways to make economy travel nearly as nice as flying up front, experiencing everything but the flat bed and champagne (hey, you may even get a flat bed).
Before Your Flight
SeatGuru: Yes, I know, many of the "best" seats in economy are reserved for frequent flyers or require a mini upgrade payment. That doesn't mean ALL the best seats. Bulkhead seats, which are those separated by a crew area or lavatory offer an incredible amount of legroom, so do exit rows. Taking a gander at SeatGuru.com will help you find tips from other flyers as well as a map of the best possible seats, in most cases, you'll be able to snag one for free. Even paid, some serious extra legroom can be well worth it.
Add Ons: Airlines are really big into unbundling air fare. If you got a really good deal on your ticket, it may be worth taking them up on their "fast track" offer for just a few bucks. I hate waiting in lines and the ability to fly through security allows you to hang in the comfort of home for longer or just find more peace in an airport. Additionally, fees for checking your bag can often be cheaper if you pay online versus at the airport.
At The Airport
Check In Online, Check In EARLY: Ok, the internet is not the airport, but if it saves you time at the airport, it counts. Checking in online will ensure that you won't be excluded from your flight if you are delayed on arrival and will also help you select a best available seat before it's too late. Checking in online will not only save you time and allow you to proceed directly to security (if you have no bags), but it will help to ensure you make your flight.
You CAN Use A Lounge: You heard me! Lounges are not all tied directly to flying first class or even on a specific airline. Inventive companies like LoungeBuddy have created apps allowing you to purchase access to fantastic lounges with free food, complimentary alcohol, wifi and very cozy places to sit, generally for less than $50. The best part? Economy flyers are fully eligible for access. With the drinks, I make that sum up in no time!
Wait To Board Your Zone: Want to make friends and relax? Don't we all. Frequent fliers hate when people crowd the gate. By waiting to board your zone (or waiting for boarding to actually be announced) you will avoid the cattle line at the gate, still make it to your pre assigned seat and enjoy more time in the lounge or duty free shop!
On the Plane
Use Airline Apps To Score An Entire Row: Use your airline's app to view up to the minute seating assignments for your flight. Occasionally, you can find a row at the last minute where no one is sitting and either create your own mobile boarding pass for your new seat, or visit the gate and ask to switch to the empty row.
Avoid the Pre Landing Rush: One of the funniest things to witness as a frequent traveler is the hoards of people crowding the lavatory to you know, or brush teeth or just stretch legs as we come in for landing. As you know, there is a certain point in which crew will demand you sit. If there's a line, you may miss out. As soon as you feel the plane begin to descend, take that opportunity to do whatever you must do, brush your teeth, change clothes whatever.
On the Ground
You made it. You're on the ground, you saved a fortune compared to those sitting up front, unless they used miles; and you've been delivered via a tin can hauling through the air at 30,000 feet to a destination of your choosing. If you follow these tips, it really will be a great trip.
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