Flight to Madrid aboard Delta Air Lines Economy. Looks comfy, no?

I hate that moment when you get on the plane, lug your carry-on through Business Class and you see the people sitting in their spacious seats, sipping champagne, already settled, giving you that half-smile and a look that says, ‘Yeah…that’s right. My carry-on is guaranteed in the overhead and I’m going to sleep the entire flight. What’s up, capitalism!”

Sure, I may have been one of those people on occasion, but for the most part I’m hoofing it with my Economy brethren, damning the man and plotting the pitch-fork revolt from the back of the cabin.

This weekend I embark on a cute little 11-hour flight to Istanbul, Turkey. No, it will not be Business Class. So in preparation, I’m dusting off my little Economy Class Survival Guide, which I thought I should share with all of you.

1. Dress to De-Stress
I don’t know if this happens to you, but on long flights my body swells up to about four-times its normal size. Something about the water rising out of your tissues and sitting under your skin…I don’t know, someone told me that and I bought it. In any event, constricting jeans don’t really feel the most comfortable when your body is reenacting the scene from Willy Wonka when Violet turns into a blueberry. Comfortable clothing is key. Go for stretchy fabrics, and layers. Temperatures go a bit haywire on the plane. But please, I beg of you, leave the crushed velvet leisure suit at home. Comfortable does not mean Real Housewives of New Jersey.

2. Nurture Your Neck
Yes, Business Class has lie-flat beds. Economy seats recline a generous 10 degrees. Nothing says sound sleep like sitting upright mashed against the overweight gentleman next to you. I know they look goofy, but friends, those crescent-shaped neck pillows are incredibly effective. If anything, you won’t be the freak whose head lolls to one side as you awkwardly jerk yourself awake to prevent drooling on yourself.

3. Gimme the Drugs
Look, I don’t have a drug problem. I don’t use prescription medication for recreational use. I’m just saying that Tylenol PM, when mixed with a glass of red wine, will knock you out for about eight hours. I once slept the entire way to Israel, in Economy, on that combination. And I always use it on my flights to Europe. If it’s an unusually long flight, say, to China, go for the real stuff: Ambien. Seriously, it was like that 15-hour flight never even occurred.

4. Entertainment Options
Sure in Business Class the entertainment options are right in front of you. Hours worth of movies and TV shows. In Economy, we do not have that luxury, so you must be a little more creative. Don’t just rely on the iPod. Sometimes you get a little antsy and want to switch to a bit of light reading, so bring an engaging book. For those of you who need visual stimulation as well, load up your laptop with movies, or bring a few of your favorite DVDs on the plane. If you can constantly keep switching forms of entertainment, the flight will seem shorter.

5. Necessary Noshing
Most air carriers these days suck. If they aren’t charging you a ridiculous amount for the ticket, they’re charging you for checked bags, blankets and yes, food. It’s not uncommon to be undernourished on a lengthy flight, leaving us to fend for ourselves. Remember to load up on snacks at the airport, past security, so you aren’t awkwardly handing over your nibbles to the TSA agents. And remember – the stinkier the snack, the more likely you are making some mortal enemies. The cabin is shared space (and air), people. I don’t need your tuna salad wafting into my nose. Perhaps that turkey wrap is a better option, no?

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