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9 DIY Ways to Upgrade Economy Class

Trudging your way through business class on your way to the back of the plane, it’s only natural to feel a pang of jealousy. But take heart: Even if you don’t have the miles or money for an upgrade, there are still plenty of affordable indulgences you can pack to make economy class feel more luxurious.

DIY Ways to Upgrade Economy Class

Tuck the following nine items into your carry-on to improve your next flight in economy class.

Cocktail Kit

Sipping a cocktail can instantly add a splash of class to long economy flights. Slip the Carry On Cocktail Kit into your personal item and you’ll have the ingredients to mix up a margarita or Moscow mule at 35,000 feet. Note that the FAA doesn’t permit travelers to bring and consume their own alcohol in flight; these kits include everything but alcohol, which you’ll need to request from your flight attendant.

Noise-Blocking Headphones

[st_content_ad]You may not be able to move your body out of economy class, but at least you can mentally transport yourself to a better place through the magic of music, movies, and technology. Noise-canceling headphones from Bose will help you tune out your surroundings.

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Window Seat Shelf

Any gadget that can create the illusion of extra space in a cramped economy-class seat is well worth a look. That’s why passengers who like the window seat should consider the spAIR Tray Travel Shelf. It slides onto the alignment channel of the window shade, creating an extra 12-by-4-inch shelf for your drink, phone, or book. This frees up your seatback tray table for a laptop or meal.

Hydrating Face Mask

After a few hours in an arid airplane cabin, it can feel as though all the moisture has been sucked out of your skin. Counter these harsh effects and give yourself a mini-spa experience with a hydrating face mask like the Dr. JART+ Deep Hydration Sheet Mask. To refresh yourself on economy flights, place the mask over your face for 15 to 30 minutes, then discard the mask and massage any remaining lotion into your skin.

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Footrest

footrest hammock

You might not be able to stretch out your legs or lie flat in economy class, but finding a way to support your feet can add a much-needed note of comfort, especially for shorter travelers whose feet don’t reach the floor. One option is the AIR STUFF footrest, a comfy memory-foam hammock that hangs from your seatback tray table and cradles your ankles. Or try the Flypal Inflatable Foot Rest, a lightweight cushion you can pack in your carry-on.

High-Quality Snacks

Forget the stale pretzels and overpriced airline snack boxes. Instead, upgrade your in-flight munchies to a higher class of snacks. Throw some fresh fruit into your carry-on—like a banana or a baggie of seedless grapes—and pair it with tasty organic snacks like crunchy wasabi-flavored chickpeas or heart-healthy trail mix.

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Seatback Cup and Device Holder

Don’t like the entertainment options on your flight—or, worse, don’t have a seatback screen at all? The Airhook can help. The device, which hooks onto an upright tray table, holds phones and tablets up to 8.5 inches, allowing you to play or stream your own entertainment. It’s also got a cup holder, so you can keep a beverage handy without having to fold down your tray table.

Mini-Bed for the Kids

Children often aren’t any happier in economy class than adults are, but their frowns will turn upside down when you install one of these gadgets to help them lie flat and sleep. The FengNiao Inflatable Foot Rest Pillow is a cushion you can blow up to put on the floor between your child’s seat and the seat in front, creating a flat space where your child can curl up. Another option is the BedBox, a suitcase that kids can ride on through the airport and then convert into a leg rest and mattress on the plane.

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Silk Eye Mask

If you can’t upgrade your seat, you can at least upgrade your flimsy polyester eye mask to something a little more luxurious—like a silk eye mask from LULUSILK. These high-quality masks fit all face sizes, and feel cool and soft when you slip them over your eyes.

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Follow Sarah Schlichter on Twitter @TravelEditor for more travel tips and inspiration.

By Sarah Schlichter

Deputy Executive Editor Sarah Schlichter's idea of a perfect trip includes spotting exotic animals, hiking through pristine landscapes, exploring new neighborhoods on foot, and soaking up as much art as she can. She often attempts to recreate recipes from her international travels after she gets home (which has twice resulted in accidental kitchen fires—no humans or animals were harmed).

Sarah joined the SmarterTravel team in 2017 after more than a decade at the helm of IndependentTraveler.com. Sarah's practical travel advice has been featured in dozens of news outlets including the New York Times, the Chicago Tribune, USA Today, Budget Travel, and Peter Greenberg Worldwide Radio. Follow her on Twitter @TravelEditor.

The Handy Item I Always Pack: "A journal. Even years later, reading my notes from a trip can bring back incredibly vivid memories."

Ultimate Bucket List Experience: "Road tripping and hiking through the rugged mountains of Patagonia."

Travel Motto: "'To awaken quite alone in a strange town is one of the pleasantest sensations in the world.'—Freya Stark"

Aisle, Window, or Middle Seat: "Aisle. I get restless on long flights and like to be able to move around without disturbing anyone else."

Email Sarah at sschlichter@smartertravel.com.

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