7 Must-Haves to Fly like a Boss in Economy

FullSizeRenderLet’s be real here. Flying business or first class is 100 percent, totally awesome and no amount of hacks can fully duplicate that feeling.

Let’s be realer: Flying upfront in the airplane these days costs roughly $5 million, and that’s not an option for most of us.

But even though you’re stuck in steerage, here are seven must-have items that will make that 11-hour transatlantic haul just a bit more bearable.

1. Earplugs. Sometimes the airlines hand these out in little care packages but the ones they give you are usually hard as the dickens and don’t really do the job. What you want are Hearos*, available in most drug stores. Take a few extra, that way if you drop them you can just pull out a spare rather than scrabbling around under the seats like a weirdo.

2. Sleep mask. Again, you may get a handout but it won’t be the same as your own, comfy, upscale version. I like these from Flight 001.

3. Compression socks. Some of you don’t have a cankle problem, a condition in which fluids collect in your extremities and swell up when you’re hot or have been sitting for a spell. To which I say, Good for you! But even if your circulation is A-OK, being able to slip on a pair of soothing, supporting socks is still a good idea. And as long as we’re on the subject: No naked feet. Ever.

4. Inflatable neck pillow. I like the inflatable kind because I travel light (backpack, small roll-on) and want to be able to collapse it when I’m done. It’s important you get one with a soft, removable cover, otherwise you’ll have plastic edges digging into your neck.

5. Evian water mister. A bit of an extravagance and it does take up room in your one-quart liquids allowance, but this is a lovely way to feel pampered about eight hours in to your delightful middle seat flight wedged between Guy With Really Long Arms and Legs and Four-year-old Who Is Not Really Ready for This.

6. Bose noise-canceling ear buds. These are tremendously expensive, around $300. And I resisted buying them for a while, getting the cheaper, regular ones. Then I took a press trip with a guy who Would. Not. Stop. Talking. and I thought to myself, Hmmm, maybe my own little “off” switch wouldn’t be such a bad investment. The first time I sat on a plane and clicked the little enhancement button, I was transported from a high-decibel hell of throbbing engines, crying babies and squawky public address announcements to a tranquil island where the only soundtrack was Beethoven’s 6th. Absolutely worth it.

7. butterLONDON balm. This is a British cosmetics company although oddly enough I came across their products at the Seattle airport. The balm stick is an all-purpose product that can be used for lips, hands, whatever. Just the ticket for fighting flight dehydration and it’s a solid so won’t have to go in your liquids bag.

All of the above can be tucked into a Flight 001 travel bag which is very handy with lots of separate zippered pockets. There’s even a slot to stick in your credit card so you can buy yourself a much needed G&T without having to dig through your under-the-seat bag.

FullSizeRender (1)


*Trying something new with this post and signed up for the Amazon Associates program. I get money, not a lot, if you click on the images for more info and end up buying the product.

Related post: Flying Delta Business Elite

Seven ways to straighten up and fly right



Somewhere around hour 11 of a recent 26-hour marathon trip by train, plane and automobile from Soave to San Francisco I was struck by a thought: Have you ever noticed that the people hauling the biggest suitcases around airports are often not really dressed that well? As in you almost want to ask if they’ve got 25 other ugly orange shirt/green pants outfits stuffed into that super-sized Samsonite that just gave you a nasty knock on the ankle. Also, little known fact: You will not actually add a year to your life for every time you cheat the carry-on size limits.

And don’t get me started on how flying folks behave once the plane is aloft. Seriously, 22c? You decided you had to get up and do the cha-cha-cha in the aisle for 20 minutes the second I’d finally settled into a fitful doze? To be fair, it may have been hard for you to figure out what I was doing since it was midnight, I had reclined my seat, covered up with a blanket, inserted ear plugs and had a sleeping mask over my face.

Still, since insulting strangers is never a good plan, I’ve come up with these handy little tips on how to travel in hopes they will gently spread a message of flying with poise and panache.

DON’T: Use air travel as an excuse to dress like someone fleeing a national disaster. I don’t want to see your faded sweatpants, stained T-shirt or mud-splashed fake Ugg boots. Velour leisure suits are acceptable … if you are over 65 and know short people who call you Grandma.

DO: Wear stretchy, comfortable clothing. Leggings under a tunic top are a good option if you are of the female persuasion. A long knit skirt with a cardigan over a camisole also works. Guys, your trusty khakis and a polo shirt won’t let you down.

DO: Take comfy socks to wear in-flight. I can’t guarantee they will ward off the dreaded traveler’s disease known as “cankles,” but they can help.

DON’T: Hog the armrests. You get one rest for your own. Usually, the other belongs to the person sitting next to you. Respect the boundary. It’s a little known fact that Dante’s 10th circle of hell was reserved for people who stick both elbows out.

DO: Use the armrests for support when getting up. They are stronger and are a much more efficient method than pulling mightily on the headrest of the person in front of you, causing their poor head to bounce like a dinghy in a nor’wester. I’m looking at you, 29E, Delta Flight 087.

DON’T: Spend 10 minutes quizzing the flight attendant about the dinner. If you have dietary issues, say so when making your reservation. But acting like you’re deciding whether to get the seared foie gras or truffle-stuffed quail at Chez Snob is just annoying. It’s airline food, chicken or beef, pick a side.

DON’T: Bring pungent food on board. Save the tuna sandwich and salami stick for a time where 75 people won’t have to live with their olfactory legacy from Sacramento to Denver.

And there you have it, seven tips for trips that should fill the skies with well-dressed and well-behaved people in no time flat.

If you want to thank me, I’ll be the one in socks, not pulling on ┬áthe head rests and directing a multilingual glare at the dude dancing up and down the aisle.