How to Make Economy Class Tolerable on a Long Flight

How to Make Economy Class Tolerable on a Long Flight

If you’re facing the prospect of 10+ hour flight in crowded, cramped economy class, remember that there are still some in-flight luxuries they can’t take from you at the security gate.

We can make the worst section of the plane feel slightly less terrible with a little planning and packing. You may not think it’s worth it now, but at about hour six of being suspended in mid-air in a sardine can, you’ll wish you’d prepped more. Here are some ways to make economy far more comfortable.

Dress for the weather

Some flights will provide a blanket—though usually not in Economy. The air is usually pretty frigid, so writer Ariana Arghandewal recommended in Flyertalk that you dress in a winter jacket for the ride, even if you’re heading some where sunny. In general, comfortable layers are a good choice for a long flight, because you’ll cycle through many temperatures.

A jacket is also wise if you don’t want to pack your own blanket in precious carry-on space, but a blanket might still be easier to store when you deboard. And a blanket you choose at the department store will probably be warmer (and cleaner) than the thin ones they sell when you’re already thousands of miles up in the air.

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Accessorize with a pillow

What goes better with a blanket than a pillow? There a few options, and Skyscanner recommends the inflatable options for the sake of carry-on space, again. There are pillows that provide support for your neck and also ones that work more for lumbar support if you have lower back problems. If you don’t now, you might after a 14-hour flight.

Arghandewal also shared this sleeping position that I cannot quite picture, but maybe you can:

Stick something with a hard surface under the seat in front of you, place a pillow behind your lower back, then slide down at an angle. You’ll be able to stretch your legs and not deal with having to sleep in an upright position.

It does require at least one pillow.

Consider your hygiene

At some point, you will want to brush your teeth, I promise you. Pack yourself a little kit, per Arghandewal’s suggestion—she says her six items are a “toothbrush, paste, floss, deodorant, moisturizer, and socks,” but Skyscanner also recommends “face spritz, under eye gel, tired eye drops, moisturizer, lip-balm, face wipes.” This kit is starting to look like a full bathroom cabinet!

One thing that’s pretty slim to pack and will take the place of a number of those items is a disposable sheet face mask, as long as you’re not embarrassed to wear one in front of your seat mates. But it will leave you all dewey and moisturized at landing and kill about 5-10 minutes of the flight. Maybe it’ll even be a conversation starter, if you feel like chatting.

Planning for sleep

Don’t try to exhaust yourself so you’ll sleep on the flight, because you’ll just get cranky if you don’t succeed. Let it happen if it’s gonna happen and try to make conditions as good as possible: in addition to your pillows and blankets, pack earplugs or headphones and an eye mask to block out the light. If nothing else, bundling up in sleepwear will discourage that weird person wearing a green tea face mask from talking to you.

Get that upgrade

Funnily enough, both Arghandewal and Skyscanner recommend trying to score an upgrade, and get the heck out of Economy. Arghandewal swears that the fee can be less when you try to make that upgrade at the airport, as low as $300. That sounds high to me, but it may be worth it, especially if you didn’t pack your emergency hygiene kit.

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The Chase Sapphire Preferred is Still the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card for Most People

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is Still the Best Travel Rewards Credit Card for Most People

The Chase Sapphire Preferred easily won our reader vote for best travel rewards credit card, and whether you’re a seasoned points maximizer or just dipping your toes in, you should have a Preferred in your rotation.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is part of Chase’s Ultimate Rewards program. Ultimate Rewards is an ecosystem of several credit cards that when taken together, grant industry-best returns in most shopping categories. We’ll be covering all of the Ultimate Rewards cards in greater detail in future guides, but today we’re focusing on why the Preferred is a great entry point.

The Chase Sapphire Preferred is worth getting for its sign-up bonus alone. You’ll net 50,000 Ultimate Rewards points after spending $4,000 on the card in the first three months after opening, plus another 5000 for adding an authorized user (free) once they make a purchase. That’s worth around $1200 by The Point Guy’s latest valuations, or to put it another way, you’re getting around a 30% return on that $4,000 you were probably going to spend anyway. The Preferred’s $95 annual fee is waived the first year, so you can treat your first 365 days as a trial period.

With the Preferred, you’ll earn 2X Ultimate Rewards Points for every dollar spent on Dining (including things like Seamless), and Travel (including things like Uber), which are likely two of your biggest spending categories if you’re a frequent traveler. 2% is the baseline return I recommend everyone earn on every purchase they ever make, but by maximizing your Ultimate Rewards redemptions, these points are worth far more. Shep and I have both cashed in 25,000 points for roundtrip flights to Hawaii, for example.

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It’s unlikely you’ve managed to miss out on the fervor surrounding Chase’s step-up version of the Preferred, the Chase Sapphire Reserve. The Reserve bumps the travel and dining rewards of the Preferred to 3X, and offers a sign-up bonus of 100,000 Ultimate Rewards points if you apply at a physical Chase location by March 12. After that, it drops to the Preferred’s 50,000 point level. The Reserve’s $450 annual fee isn’t waived the first year, and while it’s offset by things like a $300 annual travel credit, if you didn’t already pull the trigger, you probably aren’t going to in the next few weeks. Either way, you’ll want to get a Preferred for its sign-up bonus.

Ultimate Rewards is the best and most user-friendly travel rewards system out there, and the Chase Sapphire Preferred is your step one.

Gizmodo Media Commerce has partnered with The Points Guy Affiliate Network for our coverage of Chase Credit Products. Gizmodo Media Group may receive a commission from The Points Guy Affiliate Network.

Top image features Grovemade, Hawk+Hatchet, Anker PowerLine+ Lightning, and Audioengine HD3 (coverage incoming).

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