Travel Tips: 7 Ways to Make Long Haul Economy Travel Bearable (Part 2)

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In Part 1 we covered the first 3 of our 7 top tips to help make long haul Economy more comfortable – here are the four remaining tips:

4. An inflatable foot rest

One of the selling points of Premium Economy is often a foot/leg rest at each seat – but you can just take your own inflatable one in Economy!

I tried out two types of foot rest on my last trip, firstly a sling type that hooks onto the tray table, so wouldn’t work in a bulkhead seat:

Sling type foot rest – fits over the tray table.

The second was an inflatable footrest, which can be used anywhere really:

The inflatable one was definitely the most comfortable, and could also be used pretty much anyway such as the car or even the gate area. Whilst a little bit more bulky, I definitely preferred the inflatable type.

It was really surprising how much more comfortable it was with your feet raised a few inches off the floor, and when reclined made it much easier to sleep, so this will definitely be a must-have in my hand luggage for longer economy flights going forward.

5. A decent travel pillow

The “pillows” airlines give out in Economy, if they have them at all, are a joke. They have no padding, are usually covered in a scratchy cover and provide NO support. I’m not even sure they’re always washed between flights! Whilst some airlines are making efforts to improve their economy seats by adding adjustable headrests with side support wings etc., you can’t rely on this being on your particular aircraft and even then they are not always comfortable.

There is a huge range of inflatable and memory foam pillows out there for under £20, and these can be the difference between a few hours solid sleep on-board, or a cricked neck, drooling over the person next to you during poor quality naps!

6. Active noise cancelling headphones

This is the most expensive suggestion on this list (although the way BA‘s seat selection fees are going…) but will also make the biggest difference and they are also the most re-usable in other situations. There are a number of headphones on the market now with active noise cancelling. I personally have the Sennheiser PXC 550 Wireless over ear headphones, but there are other options from Bose, Sony and others.

Until you have tried active noise cancelling headphones on a plane, it’s difficult to understand the huge impact they can have. Background engine noise, gone! Crying baby, gone! Snorer in the middle seat, gone!

Oh, and they’re a million times better than the rubbish piece of tat the airline hands out (or even dares CHARGE you for!).

You can either use them to listen to your music, the in flight entertainment, or even just leave them on with the noise cancelling activated to enjoy some peace and quiet!

7. A comfortable eye mask

A staple of  business and first class amenity kits, eye masks really can make a difference to the quality of your sleep on board by blocking out unwanted light (yes I’m looking at you 33A who decides to open their window blind in direct sunlight whilst everyone is still asleep!)

However, not all eye masks are created equal. I’ve tried the traditional flat type from amenity kits in the past, but found them more annoying than anything as they pressed on my eyes. For this trip I splashed out on a memory foam “domed” eye mask that is shaped to not press on your eyes. This supposedly enables you to more easily enter REM sleep which is the most restful.

Whilst I can’t confirm whether I had more REM sleep, I can say when teamed up with my memory foam neck pillow and inflatable footrest I did manage to sleep for around 5 hours of an 8 hour flight, only waking once. I even bust this badboy out in Business class as it is better than those provided in most amenity kits.


These tips are not going to transform your Economy class seat into an Emirates First Class suite. They do however go a long way to making me feel that much more rested when stepping off the plane ready to enjoy my travels!

Top budget pick: Inflatable foot rest

Wouldn’t leave home without: Noise cancelling headphones

Anyone have anything else to add to the list that you use to survive Economy?

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