How to Make Economy Feel Like First Class

How to Make Economy Feel Like First Class

Champagne cocktails, seats that recline into beds, over-the-top in-flight entertainment, gourmet food... In a perfect world, everything would be as luxurious as it is in First Class. Amirite?! But alas, that's not the world we live in and only a select few are lucky enough to enjoy the comforts of Premiere Class all the time. 

Even if you can't dish out the dollars to get that opulence every time, it is still possible to get that First Class feeling on an Economy budget. With a few adjustments and add-ons to your normal travel routine, you can give yourself a royal treatment to feel like you've paid the big bucks for airline comfort. Here are 9 ways to make Economy feel like First Class!


1. Choose your airline and seat wisely

When choosing your airline, make sure you know what is offered with your in-flight service. Some airlines offer complimentary drinks, food, and entertainment, while others make you pay for it. If you're traveling on a 5+ hour flight, this is especially important to know.

Choosing your seat can be a simple luxury for you to take advantage of with any flight. Using sites like Seat Guru will help you decide the best seat for your particular flight. It also helps to know which airlines offer more seat and leg room to give you maximum comfort.


2. Dress the part

Have you ever tried dressing up when you're not feeling amazing? There is something that psychologically happens when you put yourself together and look the part. You instantly feel like you really embody that classy person you're trying to be. So why not do it on the airplane too?

Ditch the ugly pajama pants for a classy but comfortable look. You could even bring additional shirts or underwear to change into so you feel fresh when you land. My favorite items for long haul flights are:

  • Comfy black jeans or nice looking black leggings (easily move around or cross your legs)
  • A white or black *solid color* tank top (layers are key & especially having a tank underneath it all)
  • A nice blazer, sweater, cardigan, or shawl (again, layers!)
  • A scarf (doubles as a blanket and/or pillow if you need)
  • Super plush socks (makes your feet feel like they're wearing slippers)
  • A hat & sunglasses (kind of makes you feel A-List while you're trying to conceal the light)
  • Solid color ballet flats or sneakers (makes you look classy and it's comfortable)
$12.99 $12.99

3. Plan your meals

I don't know what the deal with airline food is. Very few airlines actually have decent meal choices in Economy, and most of the ones that do are carriers that aren't based in the United States (but that's a whole other rant...). Give yourself the comfort of eating whatever the hell you want by planning your meals ahead. 

Cook up a serving of cold noodles in an asian sauce, cut up fresh fruits and veggies, make a kale and quinoa salad, bring some fresh sushi rolls... Whatever you want! Having food that you actually enjoy enhances the experience. And if you don't want to bring a whole meal, A.B.S! Always Bring Snacks :) Pack your favorite specialty snacks to munch on in between meals. 

Image via

Image via


4. Treat yourself

While excessive drinking is the last thing you should do on any flight, it doesn't hurt to treat yourself to a nice glass of champagne or a cold cocktail to make you feel good and relaxed. I love the carry-on cocktail kit that allows you to make your own concoction with the mini bottles provided on the plane. 

If drinking alcohol isn't your thing, opt for a nice tea instead--like chamomile, lavender or green--to calm you down before you snooze. Bring your own bags so you can add a bit more comfort from home. 

$11.99 $24.00


5. Prep your entertainment

Not all airlines offer free in-flight entertainment to coach passengers (thankfully more airlines are starting to though...). Another thing you can do for any flight is prep your entertainment beforehand. Have your iPad, smart phone, or Kindle ready with the latest shows, songs, movies, or books. Buy the newest fashion magazine that makes you feel good. Get that paperback book that you've been dying to read. Whatever your source of entertainment is, do it and prep it ahead of time. You'll be thankful that you had that luxury while flying.

And don't forget to charge everything before you leave! Packing portable chargers to make sure your electronics don't power down is a huge life saver. Always keep those easily accessible in case you need to juice up.

$29.42 $37.95


6. Give yourself extra leg room

Extra space is the ultimate perk for traveling in any premiere class. But when you're in Economy, you don't always have that added space. There are 2 ways you can give yourself extra leg room: 1) You can pay for an upgraded seat to the Economy Plus section; or 2) You can strategically pack everything to make sure most of it goes in the overhead compartment, which frees up space underneath the seat in front of you. I might be biased because I'm budget conscious and only 5 ft. 0 in., but I prefer option 2.

You can either check your bag and bring a smaller carry-on to put above you (not my first option because I hate baggage fees), or pack 1 carry-on and fit as much as you can inside and use a very small bag as your personal item. Opt for as small of a bag as possible (I love small leather totes) that only fits the necessities: food, entertainment, electronics, & water. Everything else goes up top.



There's nothing like canceling out everything that's going on around you and entering your own personal oasis when you're on a flight. Screaming children, loud passengers, the sounds of the engine. It's too much! Get in your personal heart space by opting for some noise canceling headphones and earplugs. They make all the difference and are worth every penny.


8. Sleep comfortably

Not everyone can easily fall asleep on flights, but you can bring things along that will help you try. Increase your comfort level by bringing a pillow (whether it's your own or a neck pillow), a blanket (or big scarf), an eye mask, or even a seat cushion. I'll even bring a sleep aid from time to time if I really need it.

I rarely use the airline's provided blankets and pillows unless they are sealed before use (you really never know when the last time they washed them was); but if I do, I use them as back supports or seat covers. It helps makes those smaller seats much more tolerable.


9. BRING THE SPA to you

For the ultimate First Class experience, bring along some beauty products that will make you step off the plane looking rested and impossibly fresh looking. Since so many wonderful products come in travel sizes now, splurge a little and get the good stuff. My favorite go-to items are:

  • Avene Thermal Water Spray (spray some on your face to refresh your skin)
  • Bottled water (seriously hydrate, hydrate, hydrate)
  • A good moisturizing mask (let it sink in while you're sleeping)
  • Neutrogena Makeup Remover Towelettes
  • Batiste Dry Shampoo
  • Refreshing, light moisturizer (with SPF is best)
  • Quality hand lotion 
  • Deodorant (no one likes a smelly passenger)
  • Toothbrush & Toothpaste
  • Natural oils (lavender, peppermint, tea tree, or eucalyptus are best)
  • NARS Travel Bronzer/Blush Duo
$25.99 $34.99


What are other ways that you make your travel experience feel more luxurious? Comment below with other tips!

PS - Shop these and my other favorite travel things that I can't live without here!

*Cover Image source via Cass Bird for Vogue

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