Okay so there's absolutely no way to make coach class feel like business class because coach class sucks.
Seats are smaller and less comfortable, and legroom -- what legroom? I'm basically the same size as a 12-year-old and even my knees touch the seat in front of me when my fellow passenger reclines. Cabin service is perfunctory at best, food and other amenities -- if offered at all -- come at a cost, and don't even get me started on the boarding process, which, if you aren't part of the pre-boarding ecosystem, might as well be renamed, the "kill or be killed" process.
And yet, except for the rare occasion when I am magically (or otherwise) upgraded, I fly coach. Why? Because for me, the plane ride isn't the point. The destination is, and I would so much rather have the money I save not flying business class to spend having fun when I reach wherever I'm going. A fully reclining seat and warm mixed nuts are no doubt awesome, but not as awesome as being able to say yes to whatever adventures I fancy or staying a few more days (or even taking an extra vacation) with the money I save forgoing the "privilege" of using real silverware and free headphones on my way there.
Besides, by following a few easy tips, you can make coach suck less. Here's how:
1. Bring a neck pillow on board, but do yourself a favor and buy the kind that inflates so you aren't stuck lugging around one that doesn't. I've been using an inflatable pillow for years, and it's just as comfortable as the cumbersome beanbag-y ones you see people awkwardly carrying around airports and on board. While it's certainly no substitute for a fully reclined seat, you will be infinitely more comfortable when using one.
2. Bring your own headphones. This really seems so obvious to me, but I still see people asking (and paying) for headphones all the time. Whether your preference is noise-cancelling or standard-issue mobile phone headphones, anything is more comfortable and provides better sound than the "last class" specials the airlines offer... for $4.00.
3. Wear or bring warm socks. Socks are a game changer on long-haul flights. Not only will they help keep you warm, you'll feel cozier which will help you sleep. And though they (inexplicably) make me feel like an old person when I wear them, airplane compression socks are the way to go on airplanes, particularly in coach. You'll endure less swelling and help protect yourself from blood clots that can form when you're confined to small, cramped spaces for long periods of time.
4. Make your own footrest. I put my larger carry-on in the overhead bin, but place my smaller personal item (usually a backpack) under the seat in front of me. As soon as we reach cruising altitude, out slides my backpack, and up go my legs. Elevating your legs elevates your comfort, even when it's DIY style.
5. Figure out what makes you most comfortable and repeat. You like to sleep against the window, but your traveling companion doesn't want to sit in the middle? Forgo sitting together for the sake of comfort. You find the airline's "pillow" to be lacking and your bottom gets sore after a few hours? (Shocking.) Bring an inflatable one to sit on. Do you vacillate between hot and cold during flights? Layer up. Hate the food? Bring your own snacks. Can never sleep? Ask your doctor for a sleep aid.
The point is, figure out what makes coach more bearable for you, and do it. Control what you can control. And above all else, remember, it's temporary and you are losing to win!
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