How to Make Economy Flights Feel a Little More Like first Class

Traveling is a beautiful, incredible experience. One that we believe each and every person should have the opportunity to do at least once in their lifetime. But it’s not always easy and often times gets quite expensive. Being the minimalists that we are, Sam and I have adopted a budget travel mentality. Which, in return, always lands us in the cheapest seats on any flight.

Sometimes, it’s brutal.

But we’ve learned that with a bit of preparation, we can make even economy flights feel a little more like first class.  >>

Buy Tickets + Choose Seats Wisely

Book in Advance

If there’s a golden rule for scoring cheap tickets, it’s booking in advance. As soon as you know your plans, start scouting the web. We always look for flights in incognito mode so that bots cannot track our search history. It might be urban legend, but they say that companies can tell what tickets you want and will increase the prices.

Just recently we found a steal of a deal through Reddit, so tap in to as many cheap flight sources as possible and maybe you’ll be able to snag one as well!

Check-in ASAP

We’ve heard that you are least likely to get bumped if you check-in as soon as possible. So download your airline’s app and log on the minute check-in opens (usually 24hrs in advance). Depending on your airline, you may have the option to switch your seat for free or, in the case of Southwest, you’ll get a better spot in line to possibly score the exit aisle seat!

Avoid middle seat and last row

For obvious reasons, the middle seat is generally the least favorite option. But other seats have their advantages/disadvantages as well. If you’re a heavy sleeper, try for the window seat. You can lean against the wall and you won’t be disturbed by frequent bathroom breakers. If you need a little extra elbow room, or you like to get up every now and then, select the aisle seat. The exit row offers a decent amount of leg room, but you often won’t be able to store in-flight personal items close by. Finally, economy last row seats usually do not recline, so if you like to lean back for a snooze, avoid that row.

Keep an eye out for free/open seats

If you do happen to receive an unfortunate seat assignment, all hope may not be lost. Once boarding is complete, you may have the opportunity to snag an open seat (with better accommodations), but do it quickly and be polite to those around you!

Stay Healthy


You’re about to face a host of new experiences and sometimes this abrupt change can weaken your immune system. Travel with an all-natural hand sanitizer to make sure that you don’t pick up any bugs along the way!

Stay Hydrated

Though airplane bathroom trips are not always top-of-list, staying hydrated is still crucial to ensure that you keep away any illness, headache, etc. Travel with an empty reusable water bottle (we use this one) and fill it up at a water fountain as soon as possible!

BYO Snacks

There’s nothing better than being four hours deep in a flight and remembering that you brought your own snacks to pass the time. Sam and I like to stop by Wholefoods the day before flying and stock up on all of our favorite TSA approved munchies!!

Pro-Tip: If you’re a coffee lover like us, consider getting a travel French press and bring your own grounds. You can ask the flight attendant for hot water and brew your own cup o’ jo!


If you’re a generally antsy person or get claustrophobic, choose the aisle seat so that you can get up every now and then and stretch your legs. It’s also helpful to prevent DVT on long flights.

*For more tips on staying healthy while traveling, we wrote an entire post about it!

Bring Entertainment

Book, audiobook, music, magazine, movie, etc.

For a fun curated travel playlist, check out this playlist for three hours of uninterrupted wanderlust inspiring tunes!

Don’t forget a rechargeable battery!

Not all economy seating have access to an outlet to charge your phone, tablet, etc. So make sure you bring your own rechargeable battery or power up at the gate before boarding!


Sleeping on flights is my favorite way to pass time, but it’s important to bring a few things in order to ensure that you aren’t interrupted or wake up with a sore neck.

Travel Pillow, Eye Mask, Ear Plugs/Noise Canceling Headphones, + Blanket

A few recommendations if you don’t already have your own!

Leave your feet space open.

Recently, I have found that packing lightly and only putting the essentials in the seatback pocket in front of me allows for better peace-of-mind and room to move. If you can keep your feet space open, you can use it to stretch your legs every now and then!

Recline Politely

I used to think it was pretty rude to recline your seat (as if economy seats don’t already have limited space), but I’ve realized that sometimes it’s just needed for long flights. Before reclining, quickly check behind you and be as polite as possible!

All that having been said, we will leave you with these words from Anthony Bourdain …


Travel isn’t always pretty. It isn’t always comfortable. Sometimes it hurts, it even breaks your heart. But that’s okay. The journey changes you; it should change you.


Was this article helpful? We’d love to know your thoughts and tips as well! Leave us a note in the comments.



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