Being cramped in Economy can be a nightmare for any normal sized person, let alone if you are tall or have a few extra pounds, however Economy class is the reality for most people these days. Flying is not cheap, and Economy Class is really the only way for people to get from Point A to Point B without breaking the bank. With all the cutbacks in service from airlines and overselling of seats, you need to go in with a strategy to make the best of the situation. With that said, I proudly present my fool-proof tips to stay sane and make the most of soaring through the sky in a tiny, overcrowded plane:
First off, I don’t pay to pick my seat in advance. It’s just another crazy fee to rip customers off. Instead, I check in immediately at the 24 hour mark to select my seat for free. First I look for empty rows, however don’t expect to sit alone as most flights are overbooked. I don’t tend to drink a lot of anything before or during a flight, so I opt for a window seat. This allows me to lean on the window to sleep and not be bothered when others need to get up. I also attempt to get an Exit Row if possible (still free on Air Canada and Westjet as of this posting) or close to the front of the plane so I can get off earlier. The benefit of Exit Row is you can board first, sit down and chill out for the next half hour while people are still boarding. Worst case scenario, just make sure you’re not stuck in the middle seat! A great resource to find out all the details of the plan you’re flying on is Seat Guru.
Carry on only
Never check your bag. Ever! Not only will this save you from paying baggage fees, you won’t have to wait at the luggage carousel. You may call me crazy, but I have been on many trips with my carry on sized roller and backpack (aka personal item) and never felt like I was missing anything. It’s not that difficult to downsize, do you really need 5 pairs of shoes? People always over-pack, so just streamline what you really need before packing. The only downside is if you want to bring back any liquids (aka booze), you will have to check your bag. I easily forfeit this perk to get in and out of the airport in a breeze with all my bags in hand.
Fill up your iPad or other device with movies, TV shows, magazines and books. Never expect the airline to entertain you. For example, the new Westjet planes don’t have seat-back televisions, so unless you have your own device or rent one from them, you are out of luck. You can also bring books or magazines, but they take up valuable space so I recommend going digital.
Ear buds vs. Earphones
Always use ear buds for a couple of reasons: Earbuds take up less space and can be worn during takeoff and landing. You’re looking at almost an extra hour of movie & TV watching, versus if you have headphones they make you take them off during these periods.
Talk to your neighbour
Depending on the situation of course, I’ve had many great conversations with strangers on flights. It’s always interesting to meet new people and hear their stories. This can make the flight fly past super quickly, and as a bonus makes it less awkward if you need to keep getting up for the bathroom or to walk around.
These are a few of the tips I practice every time I fly. Let me know what yours are by leaving a comment!