Top 10 Tips to Survive Flying Economy to Britain

Britain is an island and there are only two ways to get there, by boat or by plane. Since air travel is less expensive and takes much less time, if you’re going on a budget that is the way to go. Chances are if you are on a budget your will probably be flying in coach or the economy section. It’s just about getting to your destination and if you keep these tips in mind, when you’re flying, it will make your coach ticket more enjoyable.

Pick an Airline You are Comfortable Flying with

While the plane ride to England won’t last forever, you will be stuck on that airplane until you reach the UK. Keep this in mind when you are booking your ticket. You may get an excellent price on a ticket but pay attention to the little details, like how many layovers are there? Is it a direct flight? Where are the layovers? Pay attention because sometimes it is worth paying a little bit more to be on an airline or route you are more comfortable with.

Pick your seat, on an aisle or a bulk-head seat

This is a secret that seasoned travelers know, pick your seat ahead of time. As soon as your airlines allows you to check in, do it! You often get to pick your seat at this time too. If you are flying economy try to get an aisle seat or the bulk head seats at the front of coach, by the door. You will get plenty of leg room. While sitting next to the window may sound appealing, keep in mind that there will most likely be two people sitting next to you that you will have to climb over to get out of your seat for the bathroom or to stretch your legs.

Pack Snacks – Airline Food is Gross

Unless you are sitting in business or first class, chances are that the meal you are served  will not be appealing. Keeping this in mind, bring some travel snacks with you. Remember there are restrictions on bringing liquids onto the plane so go with dry goods. The airline should supply you with beverages at no charge. Try granola or crackers, anything you like really. Just keep in mind, you don’t want anything in too large of a quantity or too strongly scented out of courtesy of your fellow passengers.

Keep Your Bags Small and Manageable

Over packing is a major pitfall that most first time travelers make, myself included. The seats in economy are incredibly small and you want to have as much room as possible for your body and not your bags. You will have to store your bags in the overhead compartment or under the seat in front of you. Speaking from experience, only bring the bare minimum on the plane with you, check the rest of your luggage.

Walk Around a Bit

This isn’t only a tip to keep your sanity but a health tip too. If it is convenient get up and walk around a bit. Walking will allow you to stretch out a bit and get some fresher air. Walking will also reduce foot swelling, and chances of a blood clot in you legs.

Bring Your Own Entertainment

Nothing is worse than being stuck in coach and being bored out of your mind. Most airlines offer inflight entertainment these days but if you don’t like what is on offer you may need a way to entertain yourself. Books, an e-reader, a good set of headphones and something to play music. If you are a knitter you can also bring your knitting on the airplane, just note you cannot bring scissors. Entertainment is good for times when the cabin is noisy and is not conducive to sleeping.

Be Patient and Have a Good Sense of Humor

This tip is a must no matter how you travel. If you are flying economy you are the last to get on the plane and the last to get off the plane. Things may not go as planned so be willing to shrug it off and be patient and keep a sense of humour with you. You will encounter people from many different cultures than your own, be respectful  and again keep a sense of humor.

Remember Your Flight is Only Temporary

Sometimes even with the best preparation and trying to have a good flight, it just won’t be. This reminds me of a flight that I took to Britain where the toilets broke and the entire cabin smelled like poo.  I just had to keep in mind that the flight couldn’t last forever and it was merely a means to an end. The thing to keep in mind no matter how bad your flight is, is that when you land you will be in Britain.

Be Courteous to Your Fellow Passengers

This tip is also a must when traveling. You do not want to be rude at the gate only find you are now sitting next to that person for the next eight hours. Be kind and courteous to your fellow traveler. Keep this in mind when wearing your headphones and when you are eating. Also keep this in mind if you need to get up during the flight. You do not want to constantly be climbing over your fellow flyer, they will not appreciate it. All of this being said, do be prepared for rudeness, different cultures have different standards, just keep a cool head and be courteous no matter what.

Dress Comfortably

No matter how you travel this tip should be followed! For flying in coach, you will want to dress in layers and the cabin temperature changes throughout the flight. Also if you are wearing something uncomfortable on the ground, it will be just as uncomfortable on the plane. Another absolute must is to wear slip on shoes. You do not want to be struggling with complicated shoes while on the plane. You need to be comfortable to enjoy your flight, so keep this in mind when dressing for you flight.

If you keep these tips in mind, your trip across the ocean shouldn’t be too bad, just keep these tips in mind and it will make for a more enjoyable experience. Flying can be a lot of fun if you keep you head about you and just go with the flow.

What’s your favorite tip to survive flying economy? Let us know in the comments!

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  1. Christina Wheeler says:

    Great tips!

  2. Marie Rossi says:

    Keep articles you may need during flight with you, as you may not have access to overhead bin during flight.

  3. Heather Baldwin says:

    We just returned from a two week trip to the UK. Flew with Virgin Atlantic, economy class. We where lucky to get a direct flight from Orlando to Manchester. Food was very good. Lots of snacks and refreshhments provided. We had small screens on the back of the chairs with a choice of music, TV, Movies etc even video games with a controller. We where provided with head phones a tavel pack with socks, tooth brush and tooth paste. I highly recommend them. The flight crew went out of their way to make us all comfortable. When I visit my old home next year I will definately travel Virgin Atlantic again. Beats Delta by far HY

    • R Stickler says:

      I have wanted to fly Virgin Atlantic because I’d heard good things about their in-flight service, etc. Unfortunately, to fly VA would add noticeably to the cost as they do not fly from Dallas so I guess that will have to go on our ‘someday’ list. = )

  4. Terry Quandt says:

    NEVER fly in an MD-340! There is NO legroom under the seats in cabin class!!!
    Also, all airlines should PERMANENTLY LOCK ALL SEATS IN THE UPRIGHT POSITION. This would keep the idiots from selfishly tilting back their seats, and locking those behind them uncomfortably in their seats for the flight’s duration.

  5. Whatever way you slice it…at 6’6″ tall….flying economy is like being packaged into a sardine can on planes these day….and the airlines don’t care. Those bulkhead, and exit row seats that used to be free all cost extra money now….don’t let the above tip lull you into believing anything else. I say…save the extra amount for the business class fare.

  6. Why is it that we folks who like our space get next to the ones that can’t help but talk our ears off ? Take your earphones with you , pop them in even if you aren’t listening to any music. Look connected ! When they can’t leave you be , look at them , smile , slowly remove one and politely say ” Excuse me ? I’m sorry , I can’t hear you .” A couple of times usually does the trick . It may not be what you REALLY want to say , but hey , you and your seat buddies are connected at the hip for the next 7 hours or so . Keep it lite.

  7. And take a Lunesta.

  8. Lee Ann says:

    We were really pleased with Air New Zealand’s Los Angeles to Heathrow service. Their economy section has more leg room than other airlines, their food is pretty tasty (and some decent New Zealand wines are included in your ticket price), and they have individual seatback entertainment systems.

  9. Janet Lawrence says:

    If you can afford it, fly Business Class. I strongly recommend flying on British Airways, although some other foreign airlines might be as good. Decent food, even in coach, and free drinks and entertainment. This doesn’t happen on U.S.carriers. Don’t bring giant carry-ons! I never thought of keeping seats in the upright position, but it’snot a bad thought when you consider the inconsiderate people who lean their seats back as far as they can go.

  10. Forget “Pick your seat, on an aisle or a bulk-head seat” – the airlines have figured out that this is yet another way to make more money off of their economy passengers, so they now charge extra for these highly desirable seats. I think they’re worth it, but if you haven’t flown to the UK in awhile, be forwarned, you will have to pay extra for these prized seats.

    “Pack Snacks – Airline Food is Gross” – you might want to think about this. In an innocent attempt to have a healthy snack while waiting for my plane, I brought a sealed container of yogurt with me – TSA confiscated it. Generally I’ve found that the food is a bit better on non-US airlines and the drinks (including wine and beer) are still complementary.

    “Be Courteous to Your Fellow Passengers” – Don’t automatically recline your seat! Ask first. The person behind you doesn’t want to see the top of your head for the next 8 hours and they might like space on their tray for their food, a book, etc. Reclining doesn’t help your digestion and if you’re really tired, you can sleep standing up. If it were up to me all Economy seats would be bolted in the upright position.

    “Keep Your Bags Small and Manageable” – Check your bags! People who bring on steamer trunks, their entire winter wardrobe, etc. just delay the boarding process, bang into already seated passengers, and take more than their fair share of the overhead bins.

    Flying for 8 or more hours in an airplane forces you to be in closer than normal proximity with perfect strangers, so the more everyone stays in their severely limited space and not expand your world by encroaching on your neighbors, the better the experience will be for everyone.

    One final bit of advice – before boarding please shower, put on clean clothes and wear deodorant.

    and Keep Your Bags Small and Manageable

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