Four Strategies For Staying Comfy On A long Coach Flight

The Insatiable Traveler


What are your strategies for staying comfy?


(Photo: Shutterstock)

by Susan Portnoy

I was speaking to a friend recently who is heading to Bali in a few weeks.  She was all about sun, fun, and romance.

Then the conversation took a turn, her exotic adventure would come at a cost: nearly 22 hours of flying in coach before her freshly-manicured toes would hit the beach. She went from being ecstatic to wallowing in full-on dread.

After numerous flights to Asia and Africa I’ve got my comfort plan down pat. It’s not brain surgery, but a little preparation goes a long way in making a lengthy flight less of a pain.

If it’s not smooth, don’t wear it

This is crucial. When choosing your flight wardrobe avoid belts, ties, or big buttons — avoid anything that can pinch, poke, or constrict. Plush fabrics with stretch are ideal such as fleece, soft cottons, or cashmere, any material that inspires you to hug yourself.

My go-to ensemble is a pair of black yoga pants, ballet flats, a sports bra (no irritating hooks or under-wires, thank you), a silky tank top and a yummy cashmere sweater to top it off. Warm or cold, I’m prepared.

(Photo: Thinkstock)

After I’m seated I take off my shoes off for the duration and put on warm footies. I prefer the ones with the little treads on the bottom so I don’t slip when I’m walking around the cabin.

Prepare your seat for the long haul

The seats in coach are only getting smaller but that doesn’t mean you can’t make the best of it. Before take-off, spend a few moments setting up your space. Think about what you’ll want throughout the flight and have those items easily accessible from the get-go.

I put a bottle of water, Dopp kit (more on that later), and my iPad mini in the seat pocket in front of me.

Since my lower back suffers the most on long trips, I place my travel pillow on my seat because it’s super cushy and provides the perfect level of support.

Then I lay a lightweight silk travel throw over my lap to keep me warm if I need it. Sometimes I fold it up and drape it over an armrest to make it broader and easier to lean on.

After take-off I use my carry-on bag as a footrest. Comfort-wise, it makes a world of difference.

Take a cue from first class

Treat yourself to a little luxury and make your own personalized Dopp kit for the flight. Here’s what’s in mine:

  • The smallest travel toothbrush and toothpaste I can find

  • Face lotion. I put my favorite brand in one of those tiny plastic sample containers from Sephora, and during the trip I regularly moisturize my face. (In the dry plane air it feels divine)

  • Lip balm and eye drops (again, dry air)

  • Aspirin

  • Face wipes to freshen up before landing

  • Purell

  • Sleep mask for when I am flying during the day

  • Melatonin to help me sleep

  • Earphones. (The headphones they give you are flimsy, uncomfortable, and the sound quality sucks)

  • A tiny flashlight (a lifesaver if you drop something on the floor or need to search your carry-on bag in the dark)

Don’t forget to pack a snack

I always pack snacks for long flights. Granola bars, homemade scones, trail mix, they’ve all found their way into my bag. During a 16-hour flight when breakfast won’t be served for another 3 hours, you’ll be thrilled you have your stash.

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