Like most people, I can’t even dream of flying Business or First Class, especially with two kids in tow. And to be honest, even if it were only a medium-sized splurge, I would rather spend more money on experiences at my destination versus on getting there. Give me a fine hotel, and a massage or three, and I will get there as quickly and cheaply as possible. In this way, I’ve learned that I need to make my own flight experience feel first class, even in economy. Here’s how I do it.
Purchase a lounge pass
No better way to enjoy flying economy than to feel first-rate by passing time in a VIP waiting room, instead of the boring lounge areas outside the gate. Food, drinks, WIFI, entertainment, sometimes even massage chairs and showers. The time passes quickly when you are lounging around in a closed-off area. It can really help improve those pre-flying jitters or layover waiting times. While these spaces were once reserved for First Class passengers and frequent fliers, anybody can now purchase a lounge pass via sites like LoungeBuddy.com.
Bring all your favorite foods
Economy food can be expensive and rather tasteless. At every opportunity, I bring my own food to not only save on costs, but also so I can choose exactly want I want. For example, on a recent Jetstar flight, sandwiches cost $9.50 each which comes out to nearly $30 for three sandwiches that won’t fully satisfy my hungry children. Instead, I pre-pack everything: empty water bottles for filling at the fountains after security, fresh fruit, vegetables, sandwiches, chips, lollipops, cookies, crackers and dip, cheese—the options are endless. I spent $30 on meals and snacks for all three of us during a recent 6-hour flight!
Bring your own footrest
First Class seats are outfitted with footrests—why shouldn’t you get one, too? There are so many companies these days selling inflatable footrests or foot slings that can tuck into your leg space. This allows you to put your feet up. I find I can only sleep on a plane if my feet are up, so these make me feel like I’m making my own premium flying experience. Do check your airline’s policy on this, as several have so far refused to adopt the comfort of inflatables.
Bring your own entertainment
An economy flight that charges for every seat, meal and inflight entertainment can get costly. Inflight entertainment can start at $13 per passenger, never mind the cost of inflight WiFI. Instead, we bring our own gadgets ready with movies, shows and games downloaded in advance. The time passes quickly for kids on their phones or iPad, and as for me, I’m generally found writing an article or four on my Mac, in between episodes of Game of Thrones.
Having children just to eschew some of the hassles of flying is certainly extreme, but hey, if you already have them, you are in for a treat. Many airlines such as United let families with kids under 2 board before even First Class and elite members. Other airlines such as American, however, only allow young children to board early upon request, so always ask! Many airports also have family lanes at security or immigration. If you don’t see a family lane, ask whomever is manning the lines. If you have a stroller or a young one in tow, you’ll likely be directed to the priority lane, even if you don’t have TSA PreCheck or CLEAR. Woe was the day my kids outgrew the stroller.
Got a tip to show off how you enjoy flying economy? I’d love to hear! Just leave it in the comments.
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