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Making Coach Comfortable, Pt. 2: During and After Your Flight

Making Coach Comfortable, Pt. 2

This post is available as an mp3 download! You can listen to it and/or download it right here.

Recently I published a post about what you can do before a flight that will make it more comfortable–especially when you’re in economy. I’d like to continue with what you can do during and after a flight to improve your experience so that you land ready to go balls to the wall.

Here are the things that I do to make flying coach more comfortable:

During the flight:

1. Vary activities.

I get bored easily, and even if I’m completely absorbed in a good book or something, I enjoy taking breaks. My general rule with any activity is 50 minutes and then 10 minutes. For example, after I write for about three quarters of an hour, I recline my chair and listen to some good music.

Even if something can hold your attention the whole flight, that doesn’t mean it should. Imagine how your body must feel after you stare at your iPad screen and play Candy Crush for three hours straight. Go easy on yourself and switch it up from time to time.

Beer and water on Alaska Air

Alaska Airlines offers complimentary beer and wine on some flights–how could I say no?

2. Drink plenty of water, and avoid excessive amounts of alcohol.

I did mention to drink lots of water prior to your flight, but don’t stop there! Have a water bottle that you take on with you and politely ask a flight attendant if you need it refilled. I will sing the praises of my Vapur water bottle forever and ever amen because it really is that convenient.

Also, if you do want to order some boozey goodness, go for it! A glass of wine while flying instantly makes me feel like the classiest dame around. Just keep in mind it’s even more important to continue to hydrate with water. You don’t want to land feeling dried out and massively H.O. (aka hungover).

Oh, and it goes without saying: don’t get completely schwastey-faced. No one is going to want to squeeze in that tiny bathroom with you and hold your hair back.

3. If you need something, don’t be afraid to ask.

A lot of people, myself included, buy flights based on price. The price you pay for your ticket gets you just that–your ticket. Don’t expect hot hand towels and a complimentary glass of champagne on a flight that you bought simply because it was the dirt cheapest one you could find.

Of course, I do believe that flight attendants want you to have a good flight. If your requests are reasonable, they’ll usually do anything they can to make you a little bit happier. So if there is something that will make you more comfortable on a flight, it could never hurt to ask. On one of my first flights I had failed to bring a jacket on board with me, so I was shivering in my seat. All I had to do was ask if there were any blankets available, and sure enough there were! It made the rest of that flight infinitely more pleasant.

Just remember the saying that you’ll attract more flies with honey than vinegar. This probably isn’t the only flight that these flight attendants are taking that day, and they’re working with limited resources in a tiny metal tube in the sky–so ask politely.


A carry-on and a personal item are usually in tow for me--and I try to make them as minimal as possible.

A carry-on and a personal item are usually in tow for me–and I try to make them as minimal as possible.

4. Put as little by your feet as possible.

If you try to stuff a bunch of luggage by your feet, you’ll inevitably feel super uncomfortable and you may even unknowingly creep into some of your neighbor’s territory, which is just rude. Pull out a few of the main items you’ll be using in-flight, put them in the seat pocket in front of you, and stow the rest.

I usually pull my water bottle, my phone/mp3 player, headphones, and a book out and arrange them in the seatback pocket. My duffel goes overhead, and my purse (which is pretty empty by the time I pull those items from it) rests by feet. My legs aren’t terribly long, but that little bit of space makes such a difference!

5. Share.

Maybe you have an extra granola bar or extra gum to offer your neighbor. Not only is it just nice to share with someone, but friendly conversation is so much better than sitting awkwardly in silence next to a person for six hours.

It’s true, I spend a lot of my time on flights sleeping. But when I am awake, it’s certainly nice to have someone to chat with. On one of my flights from San Francisco to Atlanta, I met a super nice guy from Kentucky, and we bonded over life in the South versus life in California. It made the time pass so much quicker than just staring out the window at cloud porn.

6. Get up.

People aren’t meant to sit still for hours on end. Whenever you’re feeling a little antsy (for me it’s every 1.5-2 hours) and the seatbelt sign is off, stand up. Stretch a little, walk to the bathroom and back, or do whatever you need to do to feel a little refreshed. This especially makes a difference on long flights overseas.

If you’re in an aisle seat, standing up is no problem. But if you’re located in the middle or window seat, you’re probably wondering how you get up without having to disturb your neighbors. I used to sit in agony with my legs crossed by the window, secretly willing the plane to land faster so I could rush off and get to an airport restroom.

Now, my attitude is a little different: C’est la vie, y’all. Seriously, there’s just no way around it, and for someone to have to get up is not a huge issue in the grand scheme of things. You don’t need to apologize for the space you take up or the things that are going to bring you joy–and if getting up to take a piss will do just that, well then, no one should deny you of that.

After the flight:

1. Drink plenty of water.

Third time’s the charm! Seriously, though, get that H2O in you. You’ll bounce back from a long, exhausting flight so much quicker.

Dolores Park

The sun might be setting and you might be pooped, but a small amount of activity will go a long way the next day.

2. Remain active.

While it’s super tempting to veg out or head straight to bed, resist! For me, it’s a complete treat just to be outside after a flight. Seriously, I could be standing in a run-down Dollar General parking lot and I might be crying because it feels so good to breathe non-recycled air.

Even if you can only manage fifteen minutes, a little walk outside can make a huge difference. Walk down the block, around your hotel’s parking lot, or grab your travel partner and check out one of the nearby attractions. Fresh air will instantly make you feel better after a flight, so it’s a good idea to stretch it out. You’ll wake up the next day feeling refreshed and ready to explore!

Do you have any in-flight or post-flight rituals that help with your travels? What sorts of activities do you normally do while traveling?

Also, if you didn’t already know my travels have led me to Vegas today! I’ll be posting about my trip next week–but in the meantime, follow my adventures on Twitter and Instagram by searching #TerrainTakesVegas.

2 thoughts on “Making Coach Comfortable, Pt. 2: During and After Your Flight

  1. Yep I agree with all of this. I’d take your last point further though and say to truly beat jetlag before it even catches you is to go to bed at your normal bed time (or a touch earlier) in your new time zone. Even if you arrive in the morning. Tough it out because it will be better than waking at 3am for the next week!

    • That’s such a great suggestion! I usually have a hard time adjusting after a trip (not so much before since I’m excited), so this is definitely something I should work on. 🙂

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