First class is real. I know this because I get a glimpse of it every time I get on an international flight before being immediately turned to the right by a surprisingly strong air hostess.

That glimpse into the life of “first class” passengers, before the fancy blue velvet curtain is pulled shut, is a great way to hate economy class before you have even taken your seat.

Don’t worry. Economy class is not terrible. It’s not great either but with these tips you can make it almost as good as first class…maybe even better (OK not really).

Welcome to economy class.

1. Forget about First Class

This is simple. Just pretend it doesn’t exist. Like unicorns.

If you saw everyone riding unicorns and then someone walked a donkey up to you, things would get nasty. But the truth is, unicorns may be pretty and pamper you with luxuries but it arrives at the same time the donkey does and that’s the whole reason we fly…to get somewhere else.

2. Respect your fellow economists

Some of us cough for 12 hours non-stop, some of us may hum Miley Cyrus REALLY LOUDLY and some of us are babies who cry and cry non-stop but we are all in this together and the sooner we embrace that the better.

If you respect your fellow economists, then it makes the flight much more bearable and that brings us to…

3. Manners

Even though you don’t have your own personal sommelier on hand to help you with your wine order (seriously in First Class this is a thing but we are forgetting about that remember?) it doesn’t mean the person handing you the wine is just a waiter way up in the sky.


These people work their butts off to become air hosts/hostesses, they deserve your respect and all the pleases and thank yous you can muster! Plus, they can save your life in the rare chance of an emergency. Maybe we should get them a snack?

4. Supplies


Bring a bottle of water. There is nothing worse than getting dry mouth, because it leads to stinky breath (see section 2).

Pillows need to be carefully selected. The neck wrap around ones are not all the same, test drive them, sniff them (some stink), think “will this STILL be comfy in 10 hours?”.

You need music, games and maybe your own movies depending on what you consider a “good” movie (flights are notorious for terrible movie selections). Laptops are OK but the best bet is a tablet because it can sneak into the seat pockets in front of you when you need to tinkle. Speaking of which…

5. Eating

Don’t get the fish. Ever.

6. Bathroom etiquette

Part 1: Leaving your seat

Going to the bathroom in economy is a nightmare. There is no sugar coating this. 250+ people all sharing eight toilets which, in area, aren’t as big as your one bathroom at home. On top of that, if you got a window seat…it’s time to get your poking finger ready.

If you are in an aisle seat, then enjoy your sore elbows from the drink cart and easy access to the toilets.

However, in order to initiate a window seat to aisle manoeuvre one must first assess the situation.

Are your fellow passengers awake? A simple and courteous “Excuse me, I need to use the toilet.” should suffice.

Are they asleep? If so a light poke to the shoulder or forearm should do the trick. If this is unsuccessful, move onto a light shaking of the arm. In most cases this should work.

Once you have alerted them to your intentions it’s time to move.

Always put your butt towards their face.

I am tall (really tall) and the crotch just seems too personal, so I go butt to face with a few “Oops sorry”s thrown if for when I inevitably step on their feet.

If you are successful with your escape from the window seat, you can now proceed to the toilet itself.

7. Bathroom Etiquette

Part 2: Using the facilities

Keep dreaming.

Out of the frying pan and into the fire. There is nothing good about airplane toilets.

OK maybe the extremely powerful flush is kind of cool in a “Wow I’m glad that didn’t happen while I was sitting down” kind of way, but other than that, these toilets are a nightmare.

The last flight I was on had cologne, moisturiser and something called “refresher”. NONE of these items are OK to use.

Just do your business, STAND UP, flush, wash your hands and get out of there so the next contestant on “Really tiny bathrooms that too many people have used” can have their turn.

8. Avoiding the swole

For some reason there are articles saying that if you don’t move your legs every so often on a flight, they will fall off and your face will explode.

Well, it’s not that bad but wiggling, jiggling and flexing can save you from having gigantic ankles by the end of the flight.

Another good one is doing semi squats while waiting to use the toilets. This is also a great way to show off your amazing muscles and technique.

9. Sleeping

Home sweet home.

Any way you can. Fold those pillows, tuck in that blanket, use your backpack, in other words just FIND A WAY.

Best case scenario, you are on a undersold flight and there is a whole row of beautiful empty seats just waiting for you to snooze on. If this happens don’t wait for take off, don’t wait for anything, you claim those ASAP.

If you make friends with a neighbour you can do a back to back thing that worked for me once on a flight to Singapore. It was awesome and when I woke up I felt like I had a friend for life.

10. Exiting the plane

One of my pet peeves is when people try to get out of the plane early. This is ludicrous. There is a system and you MUST respect it.

Exit row by row.

You have already survived 99% of your economy adventure, waiting five minutes for an orderly exit is not going to ruin the day. Remember the toilets? This is nothing.

Right before you turn left to go up those awesome makeshift hallways that clamp on the side of the plane, there remains the single most important part of the exit procedure.

Thanking the men and women who took care of you.

Got any other tips? Let us know in the comments section below!

Ben is an international man of mystery. Born in Wales, raised in Canada and now living on the east coast of Australia. He married an Aussie girl and now stuck in a sub-tropical paradise. He loves movies, basketball and most of all, travelling the world.