How to Have a First-Class Travel Experience in Economy

How to Have a First-Class Travel Experience in Economy

In the pre-COVID era, we used to fly home to Australia at least once a year to see my Husband's family there. It is a loooooong and expensive flight. We can’t afford the flat-bed luxury of first or business class, but experience has taught us some useful hacks for comfortable air travel. We're not going away this year, but many of you are (lucky you!) so I thought I'd share my best tips for travelling in style (no matter where you’re seated).   

  1. Map out your trip. Look at your itinerary. Really look. And not just at the departure and arrival times. Clock your layover if you have one and scope out the airport terminal ahead of time. Even if you're a member, airline lounges are almost always the same: dreary waiting rooms with bad upholstery, stale sandwiches, and terrible coffee. On the other hand, there are some first-rate restaurant kiosks in most major airport hubs these days. Take the opportunity to check one out. You may discover a new favourite!  
  1. Request a special meal. Even if you're not a vegetarian, trying to keep Kosher, or are gluten intolerant, try requesting a special meal. They are almost always better than the usual fare. And don’t forget to take a healthy snack from home, especially if you are flying domestically. Nobody wants a $7 pulpy apple.  
  1. Dress the Part. It is an unwritten but common practice of ticket agents to allot better seats to well-dressed (and well-mannered) passengers. You don’t have to wear a suit or heels, but leather shoes, an ironed shirt, and a tailored jacket will go a long way toward helping you to snag that aisle seat. You can always change into sweatpants once you’re onboard. Score!  

  1. Pack your Manners. Some people have forgotten how to behave around others. Add long delays or cancelled flights and things can go sideways quickly. Make the decision now to be cheerful and patient. It's all about perspective! Was your flight is delayed out of Adelaide? Time to catch up on emails while listening to great music! Endless delays out of Melbourne? This is the perfect opportunity to indulge in a guilty pleasure: An airport massage and a trashy novel. Attitude is everything. 
  1. My Packing List: This is the part that counts. A good set of luggage is a game-changer. Next year, I'm swapping out my trusty Rimowa for this chic, sustainable set! I like a rolling carry-on with a matching tote, packed with everything I need for the flight (and an overnight stay, just in case).

  • Healthy, portable snacks (of course).
  • I use a cotton bud to line each nostril with Savlon before I board,  and I have never gotten sick. It works!  
  • A pack of comfy masks (still). I don’t care what anyone says. I’m not sitting next to anyone for any length of tie without one!  

  • Travel Safe Surface Spray. I don't leave home without it. I use it on my aeroplane remote, the touch screen, and every airline bathroom surface. I do the same when I get to my destination.  



  • Slip-on shoes or pool slides for trips to the aeroplane restroom. The floor is unthinkable in bare feet or socks. You'll regret that move.  
  • A chic wrap. A Turkish Towel is the perfect multitasker. I usually take two: one for me and one to drape over the back of the seat. It's a blanket, beach towel, pillow, sarong, or scarf. It’s whatever you need it to be.  

  • A good book and diary with a good pen (for those analog moments) 

  • A lightweight, packable bag holds any extra stuff you may pick up on your travels. These are washable, weigh nothing, and can go from the beach to the Farmer's Market and back again.

Let's face it: Air travel is not the charming experience it used to be. But with some forward planning, the right gear, and the right attitude, you can overcome the most tedious travel hiccups.

Bon Voyage, Baby!

xx, mlk