Why is Economy Class So Uncomfortable? (+ How to Fix It)


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Traveling is generally an exciting experience, but getting to the destination is often the least exciting part of the trip. This is primarily because the economy class is uncomfortable, especially if it’s a long-haul flight. But why is economy class so uncomfortable, and how can you help it?

Economy class is so uncomfortable because the seats are packed together tightly. The limited personal space and inability to recline back makes traveling economy unenjoyable. To help it, you should bring headphones, a blanket, some snacks, and you should try to choose a seat with extra legroom.

The rest of this article will discuss why the economy class is so uncomfortable in greater detail. It will also discuss ways to make it more comfortable without spending much money.

Why Are Economy Class Seats So Uncomfortable?

Economy class seats are so uncomfortable because they are only slightly adjustable and very close together. The seats cannot be reclined or height adjusted, and there is no space to lie down. This means you must sit in the same position for the duration of your flight.

When you sit on a couch or other seat, you can generally recline back, put your feet up, or lie down. Being able to adjust your positioning and move around helps you stay comfortable.

On an airplane in economy class, you don’t have this luxury. You are in close proximity to the person next to you, and you even have to share an armrest. For short flights, this generally isn’t a big deal. But for long-haul flights, it can be a nuisance to deal with.

Now, let’s discuss the different reasons economy class seats are uncomfortable in greater detail.

Lack of Space

It’s no secret that economy class seats are close together. Airplanes are designed this way to fit as many passengers in the plane as humanely possible, making the flights more profitable for the airline. 

Not only are the seats beside each other super close together, but the seats in front and behind each other are also close together. This means there is less legroom, which can get particularly uncomfortable if you’re tall. 

To help with the lack of space, you should book a seat with extra legroom. The seats with the most legroom are usually the front row seats and the ones at the emergency exits, which are located at the wings.

If you can’t book one of those seats and have to book a regular seat, try to get up every hour for a stretch and walk. Since you’ll be cramped in, it’s good to get the blood flowing to your legs.

Sitting on a cramped plane in the same position for hours can cause blood clots in your legs, which can be life-threatening. So, not only will walking every hour make you feel more comfortable in the long run, but it will also decrease your risk of blood clots.

Inability to Recline

The inability to fully recline economy seats is one of the main reasons they can be so uncomfortable. It can get uncomfortable sitting upright in the same position for hours on end while not having much personal space.

While you can recline back on certain airlines, it’s not always possible. Some airline seats only allow a few inches of reclining. And, even if you can recline back, you should only do so if it’s entirely necessary.

Reclining a seat fully back may disrupt the person behind you since they’re very close to your seat. This could cause many issues and disruptions amongst passengers, so it’s often not the best idea to recline your economy class seat.

Not Height Adjustable

Not only can you not always recline back in an economy class seat, but you also can’t adjust the seat’s height. All economy seats in an airline are made the same way at a “standard” size.

However, humans come in many shapes and sizes, meaning economy seats are often uncomfortable for super short and tall people. Many people don’t have the right head and neck support in economy class seats because the headrest doesn’t match up properly.

If you’re tall, economy seats will generally be too low for you, meaning you need more legroom, but if you’re short, your feet may not touch the floor when sitting back. 

This can also be highly uncomfortable after a while.

Unfortunately, there is not much you can do to fix this. If you wanted to spend the extra money, you could try to book two seats or an entire row so that you have more space to put your legs. However, this isn’t exactly budget-friendly.

Another thing you could do is bring a pillow. Having some extra back support when you can’t adjust the seat may help you feel slightly more comfortable.

How to Make Economy Class More Comfortable

To make the economy class more comfortable, you should wear loose clothes so that your body can breathe. Additionally, you should bring a blanket, neck support, plenty of snacks, good headphones, entertainment devices, and some toiletries to refresh yourself throughout the flight.

Although making economy class a genuinely comfortable experience is challenging, these are some common ways to make it a bit better. 

Now, let’s look at how you can make the economy class more comfortable in greater detail.

Wear Loose Clothing

Wearing comfortable loose clothing is one of the best things you can do before traveling economy class. You don’t want to be sitting on a cramped flight wearing tight jeans, as this will quickly get uncomfortable.

Wearing loose clothing gives you greater flexibility and prevents you from sweating so much. 

The best things to wear are loose pants, such as joggers, a t-shirt, and a jacket. Even if it’s summer and scorching hot, planes can get chilly. Bringing a jacket that you can take on and off will make your flight slightly more comfortable.

Bring a Blanket and Neck Support

Since planes can sometimes get chilly, bringing a blanket is an excellent idea. Airplanes are generally kept on the cooler side to avoid the risk of passengers fainting. Since there is less oxygen in the sky, many people can faint easily. A plane that is too hot will increase the chances of fainting, which is why airplanes are kept at cold temperatures.

Not only will a blanket keep you warm, but it will also keep you comfortable and can act as a shield between you and the person next to you. 

Supporting your neck is also essential when traveling in economy class. There are many neck pillows you can buy for traveling, and it’s certainly worth it to invest in one for your travels.

An example of an excellent neck pillow is the BCOZZY Neck Pillow for Travel, available on Amazon. Not only does this neck pillow support your neck, but it also helps support and protect your shoulders while sleeping upright. 

Sleeping on a plane can hurt your neck, so you should consider a neck pillow like this one.

Bring Snacks

Bringing plenty of snacks is a good idea when traveling economy class, especially if it’s a long flight. Often, snack options on flights are limited, and often, quite expensive. While some airlines will give you complimentary snacks, it’s always nice to have your own selection.

Trying to fall asleep on a cramped flight is already challenging, so being hungry on top of that will make the flight even more unenjoyable. Hunger can make it more difficult for you to sleep, so it’s a good idea to have snacks at the ready.

Bring Headphones and Entertainment Devices

The last thing you want to do is stare into space for the duration of your economy class flight. To help distract you, bringing some good headphones and listening to music can help relax you and put your mind at ease.

Additionally, listening to music, podcasts, and relaxing sounds can help you fall asleep. Be sure to download your favorite playlists before the flight, as you likely won’t have internet access on the plane.

You should also bring other things, like a laptop or tablet, a book, magazine, or anything else that may keep you entertained on the flight. Keeping yourself occupied will make you feel more comfortable and distract you from your surroundings.

Bring Toiletries and Self Care Products

Staying refreshed is crucial if you want to feel as comfortable as possible in economy class. Some things you may want to bring include:

  • Moisturizer
  • Face wash
  • Small face towel
  • Travel toothbrush and toothpaste
  • Hand cream 
  • Hairbrush

You may notice your skin feels dry when you travel by air. The reason for this is that airplanes have low humidity levels. Because of this, your skin can get quite dry. Of course, this isn’t specific to economy class, but it’s still an important point to consider.

Bringing some moisturizer and hand cream will help keep your skin hydrated, thereby making you feel more comfortable.

Bringing some face wash is also an excellent idea to freshen up, as well as a hairbrush if you have long hair. Some airlines will give you a small toothbrush and toothpaste, but it’s always a good idea to bring your own.

Bringing some of these things can help make your economy class experience slightly more comfortable and enjoyable.

How to Sleep in Economy Class

To sleep in economy class, you should get yourself a neck pillow and put on some headphones. Listening to relaxing music or a podcast can help relax your mind and block out your surroundings. Wearing an eye mask can also help by blocking out any bright lights.

One of the hardest things to do in economy class is sleep. You’re sitting upright, there are people all around you, the airplane is loud, and it’s just a generally uncomfortable environment. However, if you bring the right things and have a positive mindset, it will be easier to close your eyes and get some rest. 

Now, let’s look at how to sleep in economy class in greater detail.

Use a Neck Pillow

I briefly mentioned neck pillows earlier, but they are essential if you want to sleep as comfortably as possible in economy class. If you don’t have one, your neck won’t have anything to lean on, which can be uncomfortable and will likely keep you awake.

Although a neck pillow isn’t going to be the same as lying down in a comfortable bed with pillows, it will undoubtedly help.

Bring Headphones

Airplanes are large vessels that can carry hundreds of passengers at once, so it’s no surprise that they are pretty loud. Additionally, there is a chance that young children will be on the flight who may cry and make loud noises. 

Using headphones is one of the only ways to cancel out these noises. Before your flight, download some relaxing sounds and music to get you through your economy class experience.

Wear an Eye Mask

Blocking out the sound is essential, but blocking out light is also necessary. Wearing an eye mask can help you fall asleep, especially if you choose one with soft material. For example, this MZOO Sleep Eye Mask from Amazon is memory foam and molds to your face. 

It’s also fully adjustable, so it can fit any head shape and size.

Don’t Forget to Refresh Yourself Before Sleeping

Before attempting to sleep, don’t forget to take a trip to the restroom and freshen up. Washing your face, moisturizing, and brushing your teeth are all important things to do before getting some shut-eye.

Taking care of yourself with some light pampering can relax you. It’s also nicer to fall asleep when your skin feels clean and refreshed.

Conclusion

To recap, here are the main reasons economy class is so uncomfortable:

  • The seats are tightly packed together, limiting space and legroom.
  • It’s not always possible to recline back.
  • The seats are not height-adjustable, which can be uncomfortable for anyone who’s very short or tall.
  • You often need to share armrests.

There are things you can do to make traveling economy more comfortable, including:

  • Bringing snacks
  • Wearing loose clothes
  • Bringing a neck pillow and blanket
  • Wearing headphones

By following the steps in this article, you should be able to get more comfortable on your next economy class flight.

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