a row of seats with screens on the back

Travel is largely NOT about the mere hours you spend on a plane reaching a destination, it’s about the destination and experiences absorbed. Of course, we all love scoring upgrades and using points to escape the economy cabin for free – but sometimes there’s just no way out. When there’s not, it’s a battle of the fittest, or at least the most prepared. Here’s how to fly economy like a travel pro, and not end up feeling like this guy. Oh, and don’t overpay, that’s a great first step, too…

a seat in an airplaneMusical Chairs

It’s no secret that the angriest person on any plane is the one in the middle seat. Apps like ExpertFlyer allow you to set free alerts, notifying you when any better seat you want opens up. You can say 12G or “any window seat” and when it opens – you’re first to pounce.

Survival Kit

Pros don’t think last minute. They know comfy clothes, moisturizer, charged electronics, an extra portable charger, snacks and noise cancelling wireless headphones are going to make all the difference. They also download their favorite Netflix shows off line. So basically, do the same.

a large group of people in a terminalBreeze Through

The first sign of stress for any traveler is the security lane.  But even if you’re flying economy, you can breeze through, past all the people who weren’t clever enough to think about the fast track options out there. One is even offering a free 3 month trial!

Lounge It

Anyone, even those flying economy can score lounge access for as low as $16 a visit. Inside: free drinks, wifi, couches, food and sometimes even showers. This is a game changer in the quest for pre flight relaxation.

a cell phone on a tableApp It

You NEED to download your airline’s app, but you also need CheckMyTrip, TripIt or MyTrip. These apps give you up to the moment gate change and delay info. Airline apps even push upgrade offers through, and help you get rebooked if things go wrong- directly in app. No stress.

H20 Intake

It’s a good thing the effects of flying haven’t been properly studied, because the results would not be pretty. It’s dehydrating for both the skin and body, so use moisturizer and be sure to drink water regularly, at least matching every glass of something else.

a row of seats on an airplaneIntermissions

Though you may have to consult the etiquette guide for sitting next to strangers on planes, it’s crucial, especially during longer flights to get up- walk and stretch. Politely ask cabin crew if they don’t mind you stretching in their office space. They understand, trust us.

Noise, Entertainment

In case it didn’t properly sink in the first time: noise cancelling headphones are crucial. Goodbye screaming babies and angry passengers, hello offline movies, tv and documentaries on fully charged electronic devices. By the way, these airlines have power ports in economy.

a couple of men wearing gas masks and sitting on a couchDry Snacks

There’s nothing worse than feeling heavy on the plane. Dry snacks like biscuits, crackers and cereal bars can be fantastic in keeping your metabolism in line, especially when combating jet lag on long flights. They also allow you to sleep on your own schedule, so bring em’!


We hate all that life coaching stuff too, but positivity really can go a long way. If you board the plane angry, you have no chance of leaving happy. Relax, marvel in the miracle of flight, put the noise cancellers on and think about the destination. It really, really helps.


Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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