This is a guest post by Vincent Stokes.
A few years ago on a long flight to New York, my airline upgraded my ticket from coach to first-class. Having never flown first-class before, I spent the next several hours reveling in my own fully reclining slice of airline heaven. However, on my return flight I was denied the first-class ride, hoping, with each parting of the magic curtain, to get a glimpse of the good life I had all too briefly known. From that day on I vowed that I would do whatever I could to make my stay in economy class a more “first class” experience.
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Here are 5 of the best ways I’ve found to fly first class while back in the coach cabin:
First Class Creature Comforts
Upon boarding, first class flyers are greeted by friendly flight attendants bearing accessories designed to make flying more comfortable. With a little pre-flight trip to the local mall you can stow many of these same items in your carry-on bag. For example, to ensure maximum foot comfort in cramped quarters, bring a pair of cozy socks.
To boost your odds of actually sleeping on your flight, bring a neck pillow and a set of good-quality earplugs. Instead of a standard eye mask, bring an eye pillow infused with a relaxing scent such as lavender. Aromatic oils and moisturizing lotions—in airline friendly containers—can also help you to relax and feel pampered while those around you quietly suffer.
First Class Entertainment
Not long ago we were forced to endure whatever forms of entertainment the airlines chose for us. Fortunately, modern technology now allows us to bring our own entertainment. Have a favorite movie? Download it on a tablet or laptop and watch it whenever you want to. And why be at the mercy of in-flight magazines when you can bring books on an e-reader? With a portable music player, you’ll have all of your favorite songs at your fingertips. Throw in your own personal set of high quality headphones—that have only touched your ears—and you’re ready for some first class entertainment.
First Class Food
Aside from the paltry little packages of salty snacks or pricey sandwiches the options for in-flight food in coach are limited. Plus, you have to wait until the cart rolls around, which is not how they roll in first class. That’s why you’ll want to pack your favorite snacks in a carry-on, where they are easily accessible. As far as meals go, once you pass through airport security you can order something more substantial to go, such as a sandwich, pizza, or a salad, and bring it on board with you to eat when you choose. The idea is to address the food issue ahead of time, instead of just going with whatever the airline is offering by default.
First Class Options
Planes are becoming increasingly cramped. One option is choosing to fly on airlines that offer more legroom, and those planes are out there. Here’s a great airline legroom chart to use. The next option is to buy extra legroom by purchasing bulkhead or exit row seats. A few more inches of space is well worth the expense.
If you don’t want to pay extra, you should try to book an aisle seat, which, by virtue of its location, will give you extra breathing room. To enhance your actual boarding experience be sure to check in online at the earliest available time—24 hours before your flight. This will put you in the first seating block which, although not quite the same as first class boarding, will allow you to settle in quickly.
First Class Frame of Mind
You may not be flying first class, but you are a paying customer of the airlines. And you deserve certain considerations, right? So ask for that extra bottle of water, or the whole can of soda, or two bags of snacks.
If you find yourself sitting next to a crying baby, ask the flight attendant if arrangements can be made for you to sit somewhere else. If you ask politely but assertively, and there’s room, there’s a good chance that your request will be granted. And who knows? If you fly with a first class frame of mind, you just might find yourself sitting in front of that magic curtain.
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