How to fly economy but feel like you’re in business


Flying economy class can often feel like you’re in a prison cell in the sky, especially if you’re flying long distances.

From cramped seats and toilet lines to wandering around plush business class seats, there’s no end to the many ways airlines remind you of your class.

But after Air New Zealand unveiled its economy sleeping pod earlier this week, and amid rising costs, it’s become more essential than ever to keep abreast of the many ways you can upgrade a seat. economic.

Air New Zealand’s designs for its bunk-bed cabins, which will allow budget passengers to pay for a nap in the sky. Photo: Fraser Clements/Air New Zealand

Here are some ways to feel like you’re flying business class over economy.

go without neighbors

A semi-luxury option for long-haul flights is the “no neighbours” scheme offered by Etihad airways.

Basically, travelers can bid to ensure that one or two seats next to them remain free, allowing the entire row of seats to themselves.

The offer can be made when you buy your seat, and there is a minimum and maximum offer that Etihad will share with you, based on your flight and destination, giving priority to frequent flyers.

Etihad Airways plane
On an Etihad flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi in June, an extra seat will cost just A$187, while two seats will cost A$373. Photo: Patrick Riviere/Getty Images

Bid winners will be notified 32 hours before flight departure and while Etihad doesn’t have fixed prices, it’s a potentially cheaper way to get more space on a long-haul flight.

Qantas also offers a no-neighbours scheme that works in a similar way, with the airline contacting eligible passengers on select Qantas-operated Australian domestic flights.

On an Etihad flight from Sydney to Abu Dhabi in June, an extra seat will cost just A$187, while two seats will cost A$373. Additional seats can be offered for each flight on a multi-leg trip, so the costs can add up, but who can put a price on comfort?

a sofa in heaven

Late last year, Air New Zealand introduced a scheme called Skycouch, where travelers can reserve up to three economy seats that can be folded down into a large sleeping space, such as a sofa.

At 1.55 meters long and 74cm wide, the Skycouch can accommodate a maximum of two adults and one child, with various configurations available.

The airline will also provide a harness and belt for babies under two years of age.

Prices vary depending on the destination and the duration of the flight. You don’t pay full price for all three seats, but prices depend on how many people will be using the Skycouch.

Skycouch on Air New Zealand flight.
Skycouch on Air New Zealand flight. Photography: Air New Zealand

For example, on a flight from Los Angeles to Auckland, a Skycouch will cost you an extra $1,300 per customer, on top of your ticket price.

It comes as the airline looks to introduce a cost-effective sleeper cabin as well, which can be booked for up to four hours and costs between NZ$400-$600 (US$250-$380).

The beds are suspended a few feet from their bedmates and the pods are not completely enclosed, although passengers will be shielded from their bedmates by a privacy curtain.

The problem is that you can only book them for a maximum of four hours, so at some point you will have to go down and join the rest of your fellow travelers; there is no option for an eight hour nap.

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auctions for space

There are several airlines that offer online auctions for empty business class seats, allowing economy class passengers the chance to get a low-cost upgrade.

Qantas, through its Bid Now Upgrades programme, Virgin through the UpgradeMe Premium Bid, along with Malaysia Airlines, Etihad Airways and Cathay Pacific, are offering upgrades on select flights for passengers to bid on.

The offers are usually reserved for selected passengers, who are informed via email, with minimums and maximums usually shared to avoid unrealistic offers.

premium class

There is also the growing option of a “premium” economy seat, where travelers are offered a small additional service for a small additional fee.

Each seat offers slightly more legroom, more comfortable seating, and typically a wider recline angle, with some offering premium dining options, extra baggage allowance, or upgraded entertainment options.

It’s not quite business class, but it’s something to improve long-haul flights.

Prices vary by flight time, destination, or airline, and domestic premium economy seats are cheaper than long-haul.

At the 2022 Skytrax World Airline Awards, Emirates took first place for Best Premium Economy Seats, followed by Virgin Atlantic, Delta, Air New Zealand, Singapore Airlines and Qantas in sixth.

Prices can vary between airlines and destinations, but a flight from Sydney to London in August in Emirates premium economy costs A$3,416.75, compared to A$1,330.75 for economy.

gadgets and gizmos

Finally, if there are no options for raised beds or seat auctions, there are always the weird-looking travel gadgets.

Everyone knows that you can get a neck pillow, but you can also buy a foot strap to raise your feet up, or an inflatable footrest that you can place between the seats, or even an inflatable travel pillow that you lean on. .

Of course, all-consuming neck pillows are now available, so you can be wrapped in comfort and can ignore your reality and appearance.

From this pillow for napping to this headphone-shaped pillow, there are a variety of options here if you want to completely ignore what it would look like.

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