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Thread: How to fly coach in comfort

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    Elite Member celeb_2006's Avatar
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    Default How to fly coach in comfort

    How to Fly Coach in Comfort

    The ever-struggling airlines are slashing services, raising fees, and charging for formerly free amenities—such as food, checked luggage, and exit-row seating—at an alarming rate. Given the fledgling economy, leisure travelers are now battling over the cheap seats in coach with business fliers suffering from downsized expense accounts. It seems everyone is willing to suffer the miserable indignities of economy class in order to secure the cheapest tickets possible.


    There are ways, however, to make the ride more comfortable, even in coach—whether it is patronizing airlines noted for customer service where it counts, angling for the perfect seat, or selecting minor upgrades à la carte.


    No matter what your strategy for a comfy ride on board, the first important decision affecting your comfort is the airline you pick. So read on to find our top three picks for coach-class seats. And don’t book your next economy-class flight before reading all our suggestions on how to stay comfy in coach.


    Choose your airline wisely



    JetBlue offers a whopping 34 inches of “pitch” (airline-speak for legroom), compared with the standard 31 inches. And of course there’s free DirectTV on every leather seatback.
    Southwest Airlines offers “more seat room in all its coach configurations than the major carriers,” says business travel expert Joe Brancatelli. And Southwest doesn’t charge for pillows, blankets, and in-flight snacks.
    Virgin Atlantic was among the first to provide coach passengers with personal seatback entertainment screens (on-demand films, TV shows, and music) and comfort kits (slippers, earplugs, eye masks).


    Pick your seats carefully



    Check SeatGuru.com and SeatExpert.com: The legroom in an exit-row or bulkhead seat can be equivalent to business class on some airlines. However, more and more airlines are charging a premium for those coveted rows, and they do have drawbacks, namely narrower seats.

    Seats to avoid: Any seat with its back against a bulkhead or in front of exit rows won’t recline fully. Stuck in the middle? “I’ll ask at the gate if there are any middle seats in between two people with the same last name,” says travel writer John DiScala, better known as Johnny Jet. They may well give up the aisle or window to sit together.


    Check in online as early as possible



    Pick your seat when you book: It’s usually possible to select seats online within 90 days of departure, but you have another shot to snag a decent spot when you check in for your flight.
    The 24-hour rule: Checking in online at least 24 hours before boarding will ensure you get prime pick of seats. (Note that Spirit and AirTran now charge to pre-book seats.)
    Open seating: Early check-in even works when you can’t pick a specific seat. With “open seating” (no assigned seats), passengers board in large groups; coveted group A, the first group to board, gets first pick.
    Another reason to check in early: Airlines routinely oversell flights, and the first passengers to be involuntarily bumped from an overflowing flight are those who check in last.


    Pay extra for comfort



    Exit-row supplements: Every airline except American now charges extra for exit-row seats; the fees range from $5 to $75 depending on the airline and distance traveled.
    Legroom: Several airlines are tinkering with special seats at the front of the plane, which offer four to six extra inches of legroom ($10 at JetBlue, $14 at United, $35 at Spirit).
    Priority status: United is experimenting with a “Premier Line” program at some airports that starts at $25 and includes access to priority check-in lines, security lines, and boarding passes.


    Be smart about frequent-flier miles



    It’s about the perks: Save up your miles not for a free ticket but to achieve “elite status” on the frequent-flier program. This is your golden ticket to upgrades, priority boarding, and no-fee bookings of those prime exit rows, bulkheads, and other seats. Some airlines even waive checked-luggage fees. And of course, by becoming elite with one airline, you get the benefits on a whole family of carriers: One World, SkyTeam, and Star Alliance.


    “Once you fly one airline in each alliance, you get the same perks on all,” says Johnny Jet. “You get on the plane first, get your bags on first, often get a special check-in line or security line, and are able to request an exit row or bulkhead at no extra charge.”


    Brown-bag it



    Bring your own food: “The quality of airline food is just so awful nowadays that even a simple sandwich from home is like a gourmet treat,” says guidebook guru Arthur Frommer.
    Pack your favorite things: American Airlines flight attendant Valerie Ricci carries her own tea bags because “sometimes being more comfortable is just having the things you’re comfortable with, and I like my orange spice tea.”
    Drink lots of water: Bring an empty water bottle and fill it at a fountain—after you go through security.


    Pack your own entertainment



    Time flies when you’re busy: Don’t rely on SkyMall and the in-flight movie to keep you occupied. The list of possible diversions is endless: personal stereo, favorite magazine, sudoku, or, suggests Arthur Frommer, “Some giant novel that you’ve always planned to read—War and Peace or the Naguib Mahfouz trilogy about Cairo.”
    BYO headphones: Avoid paying the airline $5 for its crummy headphones; bring your own from home for free.


    Wear noise-canceling headphones



    Why? They muffle the common sounds and get rid of the plane’s ambient roar, making it vastly easier to hear the movie or your iPod.
    Which ones? Top-of-the-line Bose Quiet Comfort headphones sell for $314, but cheaper brands do the job nearly as well for around $50–$80. (Read reviews in the “Road Warrior Resources” here.)
    The earplug alternative: Good old-fashioned low-tech earplugs cost less than $2 at any drugstore. “The best kind are the really soft foam ones,” says Valerie Ricci. “They’re cheap, and they work.”


    Be kind



    The stories of polite and friendly coach passengers charming their way into business-class seats are all but long gone, but there are other reasons to be nice when flying.
    Little extras: “Be friendly with everyone, especially the gate agents and flight attendants,” says Johnny Jet. “Flight attendants notice such things and will go that extra mile to help make your flight more comfortable, even if it’s just slipping you an extra mini-packet of pretzels.”
    Kindness promotes relaxation: “Being kind does help,” says flight attendant Valerie Ricci. “Even if you don’t get something particular in return, it puts you in a better mood, which helps you relax and enjoy the flight that much more.”


    Try to get some sleep



    Physical comfort will improve your odds of nodding off, and you can’t count on the plane having enough pillows and blankets to go around. Book a window seat (where there’s more room for your head), and pack the following in your carry-on:
    Pashmina shawl: “They take up much less room than a blanket and pack easily,” says Valerie Ricci. “Rolling up a pillow or blanket and putting it behind your back can really help, especially in coach where there might not be as much padding.”

    Horseshoe-shaped pillow: It keeps your head from falling forward, and Arthur Frommer swears it enables him to sleep on overnight flights. Eye mask: Johnny Jet says it’s a key to a good night’s sleep. “The good ones—big and fluffy—cost only about $10. I might look like a freak on the plane, but I’m comfortable.”

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    Elite Member Grimmlok's Avatar
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    Last time i flew, the crew were bitchy and horrible. Then again, the passengers weren't much better.. kids running up and down the aisles, TINY cramped plane... I always do my best to say plase and thank you and such, but it had zero effect last time
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    SVZ
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    sigh...i remember the days of being able to hang out in the galley and getting extra meals...

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    Zee
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    Hell, I remember being taken up to the cockpit to meet to the pilot during the flight.
    Drive a car, drive a boat, drive a plane. What does it matter? As long as I'm drunk!
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    Quote Originally Posted by zorbeet View Post
    Hell, I remember being taken up to the cockpit to meet to the pilot during the flight.
    [YOUTUBE]http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OHEivPHjimw[/YOUTUBE]
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    Elite Member msdeb's Avatar
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    i havent flown in a while, this was helpful, since i'm flying in april.
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    Elite Member MsDark's Avatar
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    Hey, I love the SkyMall mag. I can spend easily an hour looking at all the amazing crap I didn't know I needed in there. Then I have a bacardi and diet coke, take a nap, and wake upon destination arrival.
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    Super Moderator Tati's Avatar
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    ^ I really have to start drinking on planes. It's overpriced, but what the hell. I had such a terrible experience last time (passengers, not staff) that I think it would be worth it to get a little sloshed. Other than that... I usually get a lot of reading in, and sometimes I can manage to sleep.
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    Elite Member Beeyotch's Avatar
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    I've stopped drinking when I fly. I figured it made me use the nasty plane bathroom more and I often ended up with a headache during or at the end of the flight.

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    Elite Member Penny Lane's Avatar
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    Southwest sucks hard. The only tolerable experience I had on a plane was an AA flight from NY to Houston and that was just because we had to emergency land in Dallas because of a storm and that allowed me an extra hour of seatback TV and extra peanuts.

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    Elite Member MsDark's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Beeyotch View Post
    I've stopped drinking when I fly. I figured it made me use the nasty plane bathroom more and I often ended up with a headache during or at the end of the flight.
    Just have one drink. If you aren't eating that should be enough.

    I don't enjoy getting drunk at all and certainly not looking to get pissed on a flight of all places. It just helps me relax enough to fall asleep for the nap.

    Quote Originally Posted by Penny Lane View Post
    Southwest sucks hard. The only tolerable experience I had on a plane was an AA flight from NY to Houston and that was just because we had to emergency land in Dallas because of a storm and that allowed me an extra hour of seatback TV and extra peanuts.
    Tried Northwest?
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    Elite Member Penny Lane's Avatar
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    I usually only fly the route from school to home on the rare occasion that I don't make the trip by car and the only options are Continental and Southwest.. I've never tried Continental, but I haven't heard great things about it either.

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    Quote Originally Posted by twitchy2.0 View Post
    [youtube]OHEivPHjimw[/youtube]
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    I've had good experiences on Continental, but it's because I usually travel with my dad who is in the Chairman's Circle so we get special treatment.

    One thing I can't stand is being seated near young kids or babies who are talking, shitting in their pants, or crying the entire time. Check with the gate attendant upon arrival (or call in advance) and let them know you do not want to be seated near children or babies. If you are, and another seat is available, they'll often let you switch.

    I find that in many cases, you get the service that you ask for (as long as you're nice about it). If you don't speak up about your dissatisfaction, they won't do anything to improve the quality of your flight.

    The airline I've had the worst experiences with is American Airlines. I also fly Southwest and Delta pretty often and haven't had too many issues with either of those.

    I feel that airlines do need to take more responsibility. They're hiking up prices and holding us accountable for all sorts of new fees (making us pay extra to bring a bag, get a snack, a blanket, a drink, a seat in the first 15 rows, etc), but when their planes arrive several hours late, they don't offer any compensation and tend to take on an attitude of, "it's not our problem."

    I think if they want to play the money game, it needs to go both ways. Don't nickel and dime us for everything imaginable, and then fail to accept monetary responsibility when you screw up. If the plane is delayed an hour or more, I think that every passenger should receive travel vouchers.

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