• Gabrielle Sander

Travel tips: Surviving a long-haul flight in Economy class

Updated: Mar 17, 2018

If I had all the money in the world, I'd fly Business or First Class all the way, baby. I've been fortunate enough a couple of times through work, and boy was it good. I'll never forget the time I had a bubble bath, flute of champagne in hand, in the Cathay Pacific First Class Lounge at Hong Kong airport. Talk about living the dream. But, your average Joe and most above average Joes (and I) just can't justify the spend. And many others, would rather splash out on treats when they've arrived at their destination.


What I have done is flown A LOT, in varying degrees of discomfort, in entry-level class. Here are some little tricks I've adopted along the way, that make a massive difference to how I feel in the air and after.


1. Pack your own pillowcase. For added luxury, make it a silk one. Many a glossy women's mag feature has told me they help stop wrinkles and make your hair shiny. They don't. Not for me at least. But, they are deliciously soft, and it's this sort of comfort you need on a flight. And yes, just the case - stuff it with a couple of the little cushions and blankets they give out, and voila, you have a plump, proper-sized pillow! Trust me. It'll change your flight life a little bit.


2. Take your own headphones. The ones they provide you with will invariably be tinny, crackly, poorly-fitting, etc... and those films you're all excited about watching will be ruined. I've noticed they've started phasing out those double aeroplane sockets that mean you only get sound in one ear if you use your own. But, you may want to pick up one of those handy aeroplane adaptors before you fly, for about £6, just in case.


3. Have a mini pampering session. Flying gets you places, but it also sucks the moisture out of your skin. As soon as I've finished my meal, I take my make-up off and slather on a face mask - preferably one of those rich, overnight ones. Kiehl's, Clinique and Antipodes do great ones, that do the job, without it looking like you've face-planted a lemon meringue pie. Before I land, I wipe a cotton pad with rose water or toner du jour over my face, moisturise, pop some eye drops, and make-up. Seriously, it makes such a difference. And is the next best thing to an Emirates shower... almost.


4. Tiger Balm. Compressed cabins + several hours flying = a stuffy nose and head. Sniffing Tiger Balm, Olbas Oil, Vicks, or any other decongestant will keep you clear.


5. Coconut Water. I wasn't going to add this, because it sounds a bit dicky, but I always drink a carton of coconut water either just before or as soon as I get on the flight. Placebo it may be, but it definitely helps me feel a lot less groggy and dehydrated than if I don't.


6. Slip on some socks. Much like the pillowcase, popping on a pair of thick, loose socks, makes it just that little bit cosier. You can put flight compression socks on underneath.


7. And a big soft scarf. It might be the height of summer when you take off, and 30 degrees of Bajan balmy when you land, but while you're on that flight, there will be a time when they blast the aircon. I have a theory they do it to wake everyone up. Wrapping this around you will help, and it takes up a little less room in the hand luggage.


8. Order a Bloody Mary. Once you've supped on that, and ticked off the above, you'll be sitting smugly, in front of a film, thinking of all the things you'll spend the money you saved on roughing it in Economy. Bon trip!


I would love to hear any tips you have for flying.



#travel #traveltips #travelguide #economyclass #firstclasstravel #travelwriting



All images and content © 2020 Gabrielle Sander