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4 Ways To Make Economy Feel Like First Class

We’ve all done that walk of shame on a plane through first class to our seats in economy and thought “when is that going to be me?” As we gaze wistfully at those comfy reclining seats with generous leg room, we begin to wonder whether it would really be so extravagant to pay a little extra to upgrade – before realising it would cost more than the flight itself.

Yep, travelling in economy is a punish – especially for long-distance flights. But unless you happen to win the lotto, stumble upon an inheritance, rack up a boatload of frequent flyer points or become a high-powered CEO, it’s the reality for most young Aussies who like to travel. But the good news is, just because you’re flying economy, doesn’t mean it has to feel like it. With a few simple airline hacks, you can amp up the luxury factor and make economy feel like first class. Here are the best flight hacks to fly in comfort:

#1 Book the exit row

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While nabbing the exit row used to be a case of being extremely tall and turning up to the airport early, it’s now anyone’s game – so long as you’re prepared to pay. Most airlines now give you the option to select the exit row (this will sometimes be called “extra leg room”) when booking your flight. And it is definitely worth paying the extra $40 to $60 to do so.

Not only will this give you the ability to stretch your legs out, but it means you won’t have to climb ungracefully over your neighbour to get to the bathroom! The absolute holy grail is the window seat in the exit row – you can lean against it when you’re sleeping and stretch out.

Be warned though, you will actually have to be willing and able to help in the case of an emergency (no, it’s not just something they say).

#2 Take advantage of lounges

One of the best things about flying first class or business is being able to hang out in the airport lounges. These are a refuge of calm amidst the chaos of the airport, where you get enjoy snacks and bevvies before your flight. But believe it or not, you don’t actually have to be a frequent flyer to do this. There are lounges you can access with an entrance fee and some that are free if you have a certain type of credit card.

You can also get a membership with Lounge Pass, a program that gives you entry to over 1000 airport lounges overseas. You pay approximately $126 per year, on top of which you’ll pay $35 for each lounge visit. Some airports around the world also offer independent lounges where you can pay per visit using a website called LoungeBuddy.

#3 BYO amenties

Yes, pillows and blankets are usually supplied in economy. But these are flimsy at best and unhygienic at worst, as many airlines reuse the same blankets and pillows for hundreds of passengers. Yuck.

To instantly make your flying experience more comfortable, consider bringing your own amenities along. It’s worth investing in a merino blanket, as these tend have the best weight to warmth ratio (ie. they’re lightweight but incredibly warm). A travel pack like the Aria Kit is also a great to have on hand. Packed in a convenient case, it’s filled with luxe-yet-practical essentials to level up your flying experience — including a toothbrush, eye mask, microfibre socks, noise-cancelling ear buds and a pen.

Also don’t forget to bring things like moisturiser, lip balm and a refillable drink bottle with you – there are often taps on board for refilling, or the flight crew can do it for you.

#4 Dress the part

Just because you’re not flying first or business class, doesn’t mean you can’t dress like it/ Rocking up looking like you’ve just rolled out of bed (because let’s face it, you probably have) is only going to make you look and feel like more of a pleb.

That said, ain’t nobody got time for wearing skinny jeans, a suit or uncomfortable shoes on a long flight. Looking good and feeling comfortable don’t have to be mutually exclusive. Jogger pants (not trackies!) clean sneakers, a basic tee and a fitted jacket are all understated-yet-polished travel staples that will make you look like a frequent flyer.

Bonus points if you can get a large scarf that doubles as a blanket. Who knows, you may actually get bumped up a class – as cabin crew are more likely to upgrade those who are well put-together and look like they travel often.

Now read these backpacking hacks no one tells newbies.

Check out Qantas flights to begin your next adventure.

(Lead image: Anete Lūsiņa / Unsplash)