Traveling on first-class flights really is a dream. The seats are larger, the amenities are better and the service is more attentive. But high flight prices put luxury travel out of reach for most vacationers. Wouldn’t it be nice if cheap flights came with just a few more luxuries?
Fortunately, there are a few simple tips and select products that can make a regular economy seat ticket feel more impressive and comfortable.
Click through to find out how to upgrade your flight experience for less and travel like a millionaire without the millionaire budget.
Buy a Luxe Travel Pillow
Many airlines don’t give out free pillows for passenger use, and even if they do, they’re pretty thin and uncomfortable. Treat yourself to an ultra-soft memory foam travel pillow like the Evolution S3 from Cabeau, which has straps to fit around the plane’s headrest to prevent your head from flopping forward — you won’t have to spend a lot to enjoy this extra comfort.
Wear Compression Socks
Cost: $9.90 and up
One of the worst parts of air travel is the cramped seats, which can often lead to sore legs and swollen feet. If you don’t want to pay the flight upgrade costs to get more room, slip on a pair of compression socks before takeoff to avoid varicose veins and prevent dangerous blood clots.
Buy Good Headphones With Noise-Canceling Technology
Noisy passengers in your row, crying babies and all the usual aircraft noise can make you feel stressed out and prevent you from relaxing. Make your flight feel more restful by buying a pair of lightweight, comfortable headphones with noise-canceling technology. The Phiaton BT100NC earphones are wireless and will do the job well. At the touch of a button, all the background noise will fall away, and you can enjoy your music or movie in tranquility. Although you can buy cheaper headphones, investing in a quality pair will give you years of comfortable wear, and they are a lot cheaper than an upgrade to business class.
Pack Your Own Food
Some airlines have cut costs over the years by now charging for snacks or not offering them at all, or you might have the chance to purchase onboard meals. The snacks tend to be pretty small, and the majority of the meals available are low-quality and overpriced. Instead, pack your carry-on bag with snacks, sandwiches and treats to make you feel indulged or energized — depending on your mood. This is also a good trick for saving money at popular attractions around the country.
Slather on Moisturizer
In first class, you enjoy a little more privacy than at the back of the plane, which lets you rest and arrive looking rejuvenated. Not so much in economy seats. There’s no reason to not be proactive and moisturize your face well before takeoff with a moisturizer such as Neutrogena’s Hydro Boost, and you might just arrive at your destination looking and feeling like you already started your vacation.
The Perfect Seat Selection
Cost: Up to $60, depending on the airline
If you arrive at the airport early, you might be able to score yourself a heavily discounted or free upgrade. Even if you don’t get bumped up to first class, you’ll still be in a good position to select the perfect seat.
People disagree on what makes a good seat selection on a plane. Some people prefer a window seat so they can sleep without being disturbed, and others prefer an aisle seat for easy access to the bathroom. Others like to choose the bulkhead position for a little more leg room. If you want to be sure to get the seat you want, consider paying a small fee to make your choice online ahead of your flight.
Slip on an Eye Mask
Eye masks help to block out the light so you can get a little sleep before you land at your destination. Choose a luxuriously soft, plush mask made from velvet to take this self-care experience up a notch. Try the Midnight Magic sleep mask from Cabeau, which has a customizable fit that promises not to leave grooves in your hair while blocking out the world around you — it even comes with earplugs.
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Get Comfortable With Your Own Slippers
Many people like to slip off their shoes when flying and get a little more comfortable, but the floor is notoriously dirty on an airplane — especially in the bathroom. Protect your feet and stay cozy by packing a pair of your own lightweight slippers from home, or pick up a foldable pair from Banzi, which are made for travel.
Download Your Favorite Movies
Cost: The cost of your current streaming service
Be sure to download your favorite movies from your streaming service onto your tablet or device before setting off for the airport. Being able to relax and watch a movie or two will make your flight go by quicker and can make the whole experience feel more indulgent.
Find out which streaming devices are the best if you’re interested in this one.
Dress in Layers
Airplane temperatures can fluctuate between being too cold or too hot, and either one can make you grumpy and uncomfortable. Dressing in layers ensures you’re prepared for any condition. Wear a short-sleeved T-shirt, and bring a sweater and a scarf with you to ensure you’re always cozy or cool.
Cost: Starting from $19
Even if you don’t know the secrets to scoring a free flight, you can still feel like part of the traveling elite. For less than the cost of dinner, you can purchase a day pass to the airline’s premium lounge. While everyone else is sitting on those hard seats while waiting to board, you can sink into a cushy armchair and enjoy a cocktail or take a power nap.
Hand Me the Hand Cream
Flying can make your skin dry and dehydrated, and your hands are often the first to show signs of stress. Buy an unscented lotion (think about your seat neighbors), and apply often throughout the flight. The Naked Bee makes a handy travel-size version.
Cost: Free up to a few dollars
It’s not just your skin that can suffer in dry air cabins; frequent flyers can become dehydrated quicker than when on the ground. Take action by packing a large water bottle and filling it up for free at airport water stations. Once on board, the flight attendants may offer you refills or you might need to purchase bottles of water. Whatever you do, make sure you drink up.
Pack an iPad Stand
One of the benefits of traveling in first class is that you’re provided with an in-seat device to watch movies. Travelers in cheaper seats are free to bring their own device, but they don’t have anything to hold it in place. Buy a stand like the iPADKET, which easily attaches to your tray table, and you’ll feel like you’ve been given a free upgrade.
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Clean Up With Antibacterial Wipes
Cost: $2.99 and up
Airplanes are definitely not the cleanest or most sanitary places in the world, and economy seats can often feel grubbier than the rest of the plane. Bring a pack of antibacterial wipes to clean up the armrests and tray table to make sure you don’t leave the plane with a stomach bug or a cold.
Invest in a Portable Charging Device
Cost: $10.99 and up
One of the worst things to happen during a long journey is running out of juice for your favorite and most-essential devices. Plane rides can seem very long without any movies, music or e-books to distract you. Bring along a charger to ensure you have no interruption in your entertainment program during your trip.
Put Your Feet Up
The seats in business and first class often recline much more than regular seats and have a footrest that offers a completely comfortable and supportive environment. Just because you’re in a smaller economy seat doesn’t mean you have to be uncomfortable. Purchase a portable footrest that fits in your bag and offers lower back and leg support. Sleepy Ride makes one that’s specifically designed for air travel.
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Brew a Better Cup of Joe
Airline coffee often tastes bad and could even be dangerous, as it’s made with water from the plane’s sink. You’ll feel like a celebrity enjoying premium coffee on board your flight by taking along a bottle of water and your own coffee Brew Buddy.
Choose the Best Routes
Your flight booking can be improved if you’re willing to be flexible with your travel plans. Take the time to choose routes that might be quieter and have fewer travelers, therefore increasing your chances of getting a whole row to yourself. This extra planning could make your flight more peaceful and relaxing.
Cost: Free, in fact, it could save you money in baggage fees
The less you pack in your luggage, the more space you’ll have under the seat in front, giving you a little more room for your feet and legs.
Click through to save more by checking out these money-saving tips from flight attendants.
More on Travel:
- How I Paid $1,200 for a 10-Day Vacation in Italy (Without Using Points)
- Lengthy Layover? How to Turn One Trip Into Two
- Want to Travel Cheap? Here Are My Favorite Money-Saving Travel Sites
*All prices were accurate as of Mar. 19, 2018 and are subject to change.