Listen up, here's your Economy (master)class. We've got ten hacks to make your economy flight feel like it's First Class - at a fraction of the cost!
1. Take a good travel pillow
A top quality travel pillow can make all the difference when it comes to sleeping well, whatever fare you're travelling on. Ditch the free cushions that you get on long-haul flights; these are flat, thin and slip behind your head as soon as you fall asleep and avoid having to carry on anything too bulky. Instead, look for a specially-designed travel pillow - these are the ones that give good neck support on the go. Dreaming you're flying First Class is almost as good as the real thing, right?
What makes a good travel pillow?
For flights, making room in your hand luggage is key, so invest in an inflatable travel pillow that will squash down to flat and easily fit in your carry on bag. Horseshoe shapes that circle your neck are best for avoiding any aches and pains when you wake and prevent your head from falling over when you sleep. If you suffer from back pain, consider a lumbar cushion for the small of your back.
2. Buy an inflatable Leg Rest or foot rest
Having your feet slightly raised on a flight not only aids circulation, but it can reduce the risk of swelling and joint pain too. Like your trusty travel pillow, it won't take up much space when deflated, but this often overlooked accessory will boost you up to at least business class levels of comfort.
3. Move seats
Always be on the lookout for free seats – sometimes whole rows are empty on the flight and let's face it, three seats are better than one. You will be able to lift up the arm rest and potentially lie down across a full row. So keep your eyes open and ask the cabin crew if you can move - who knows, they might even move you to First Class for real.
4. Go DIY gourmet with Duty Free treats
If plane food has never impressed you, then why not take the time to purchase some luxury chocolates or snacks in Duty Free to take with you on the plane? These little treats can bridge the difference between Economy and First Class (well, nearly) whilst having a mid-air toast with your favourite tipple, although you'll have to get that from cabin service - you're not allowed to drink your Duty Free purchases on the plane.
5. Invest in good headphones or ear plugs
Whether it's a crying baby, a chatty neighbour or the noise of the engine, loud noises can ruin the chances of a peaceful flight, so make sure that you're fully prepared. Bring some good quality noise-cancelling headphones and listen to some relaxing music, or if you want complete silence, buy some good quality ear plugs and pretend you're beyond that elusive First Class curtain...
6. Choose your seats wisely before you board
Aim for a window seat to ensure you don't have a frequent toilet visitor scrambling over you every five minutes (or snag an aisle if you're that frequent toilet visitor). Also, don't immediately assume an exit row is best. Yes, these seats have extra leg room, but they don't recline. Instead, consider the row behind the exit row where you won't have someone reclining in front of you. Equally, bulkhead (front of the plane) seats may be the daddy when it comes to space, but they don't come with either under-seat storage or a seat pocket in front of you and not having immediate access to your things may get annoying on a long flight.
7. Bring a good sleeping mask
Sleeping masks are great for blocking out ambient light and letting you have a good rest. Invest in a slightly pricier one that sits away from your eyes and has eye cavities built into the mask. This will mean that rather than pushing on your eyelids, your eyes will be unobstructed during the REM (rapid eye movement) stage of sleep, so you will sleep more deeply.
How to sleep on long-haul flights:
Many people make the mistake of tiring themselves out deliberately before a long flight, but if you can't sleep, being overtired will put you in an even worse position. Rest as normal, and go with what your body tells you - if you feel your eyelids drooping during the in-flight movie, switch off and get your pillow out. While accessories like sleeping masks and ear plugs are essential (and small in size), don't bring too much stuff to do on the plane (do you really need that stack of magazines and that doorstopper novel?), as it will take up your legroom or make you feel hemmed in - not a good recipe for relaxation. To tackle jetlag once you arrive, take a look at our advice on timezone tiredness.
8. Bring your own blanket
Flights can be chilly when you're sat still for hours and blankets aren't always provided or can be very thin. Bring your own cashmere lightweight blanket so you can snuggle up with a touch of First Class luxury, or for a shrewd packer's tip, make sure one of your holiday scarves is a warm pashmina or shawl that can double as a cover - if you're wearing it, it won't count as hand luggage.
9. Bring slipper socks to walk around the plane in
Sometimes flights provide free socks but they're often thin and flimsy. Bring some of your own slipper socks so you can comfortably walk around an Economy flight like a luxury jet-setter.
10. Pack some toiletries to pamper yourself on the plane
There are so many lotions and potions that you can bring on the flight with you to bring a touch of First Class pampering to a journey. Try some face spritz, under eye gel, tired eye drops, moisturiser, lip-balm, face wipes and a toothbrush and toothpaste. Stay hydrated as well as keeping your skin moisturised and you're all set for a comfortable flight.