How To Fly Economy In Style

The flight is called, you rush for the gate, you queue down the jet way and then it happens. It’s not a business trip and so you can't climb onboard and settle into your little cocoon of comfort. It’s a leisure trip so you walk right through the cocoons of comfort in to the gulag that is economy.

The two classes of travel are a world apart. In business it’s all flat beds, Elemis beauty packs and fillet steak. In economy the food is disgusting, the seats are uncomfortable and the blankets are made from the sort of synthetic fibres that makes your teeth hurt when you touch them.

But there is a way to survive economy without slumming it and still travel in style. It’s possible to give yourself a business class experience and actually enjoy the time you spend on the flight. 

Envelop yourself in natural fibres

In economy it seems like the blankets are electrified and I think the pillows are made of the same fabric as sanitary towels. Leave them well alone and travel with your own feather pillow (we sell linen travel pillows just for this purpose), and a large, soft woollen or cashmere stole that will double as a blanket. Both of these items can be shoved in your handbag so you don’t look like an overgrown toddler when you are walking through the airport terminal sucking your thumb with your ‘blankie' under your arm.

Cashmere socks are a must, it’s flipping freezing in economy because they pipe all the warm air into the upper classes. Wrapped up in these three items it’s entirely possible not to touch the seat at all.

Mark your territory with scent

I have a friend who takes a Diptyque candle with her whenever she stays in a hotel to make it smell like home. Lighting candles on planes seems to be frowned upon for some reason but you can be inspired by this. Hand cream and face mists particularly will help combat the dryness of a pressurised cabin and make your square footage of space a nicer place to hang out. At the very least it might eradicate the smell of the big, sweaty man you've been sat next to. 

Take a decent bag

Our Bleak House rucksack is the perfect carry on, it’s not cumbersome and annoying like a wheely suitcase, it takes all your gear but is small enough to shove under the seat. Personally I find the whole overhead locker situation depressing and frustrating and I like being able to keep everything in reach and not have to fight with other passengers for space. It makes it a whole lot easier disembarking the flight too.

Cancel out the noise

It’s so nice to have your own headphones to watch the entertainment or just block out the screaming children. Your own set will undoubtedly be more effective and comfortable and you won’t have unwrap those horrid plastic bags that contain the awful foam things that should have disappeared when they stopped making Sony Walkmans. The best are probably by Bose but our favourite are Beats by Dr Dre.

Listen to podcasts

If you are not in the mood for a movie, or you’ve exhausted this month’s selection, podcasts or audio books make the flying time fly faster. You’ll need to download them before you fly of course but that’s what airport wi-fi is for. May I most humbly recommend the fabulous Small & Mighty podcast by Sam Burgess which features yours truly.

Travel with Hercule Poirot, or James Bond

It’s a fact of modern travel that it simply lacks the glamour of the past. But you can at least imagine that you are making your way across the atlantic in the 1930s or 1960s by packing a glamorous traveling companion. Agatha Christie or Ian Fleming novels are perfect because they are more or less the length of a long haul flight. On my last trip to New York, I started Agatha Christie’s One, Two, Buckle My Shoe at Heathrow Terminal 5 and finished it just as we were landing on the return journey.

Pack a plane picnic

The food in economy is horrible. Really horrible. On my last transatlantic flight the promised afternoon tea turned out to be a coffee and a fun-sized Mars bar. I had been looking forward to it the entire flight, having not eaten the breakfast of rubber eggs and bacon and was crushed with disappointment.

Next time I’m taking my own food, perhaps from this article. I think the best thing is to take lots of little things to graze on so that you can while away hours and hours with your little tea party for one. Extra points if you fill up your S'Well water bottle with sparkling water.

Take advantage of being unplugged

A long plane journey without 4G or Wifi is a great way to focus on something that you never seem to get time to do at home. Spending an hour getting your bullet journal shipshape, planning the next few months in your business, finally getting around to using the Headspace app or sending lots of (draft) emails is a great way to use this time wisely. I always come off a plane feeling inspired and exciting about the upcoming months.

Please do leave a comment below if you have any other suggestions for making long haul economy flights more bearable.

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Words by Annabel Bird

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How to travel economy in style


The way you set the problem of the article very interesting. It is very useful for those who have to go through long flights. If they follow your advices, I believe, instead of being tired, they will feel more comfortable.

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