Few things are as demoralizing as passing the comfy-looking first-class passengers while walking back to a seat in coach. Thanks to the high price of fuel and stiff competition, airlines have dedicated themselves to packing in as many people as possible, aggressively redesigning seats and cutting away legroom space until passengers are uncomfortably crowded. During a short flight, sitting in coach can be moderately tolerable; during a longer flight, however, it can be tortuous. Luckily, there are many clever ways to eke out a bit of comfort from the coach section.
Of course, the easiest way to enjoy a luxurious flight is to seek an upgrade, usually by spending frequent-flier miles or otherwise paying a hefty premium. The majority of passengers, however, will have to rely on other means to improve their situation. For example, choosing a window or aisle seat will provide a bit of extra space, as will choosing to carry a smaller bag that can be stored overhead. Many travel experts recommend bringing along a bit of comfort-enhancing equipment as well, such as lumbar and neck pillows, a light blanket, warm socks, and a scarf or extra layer of clothing to lay over the armrest. Tuning out the light and noise is often as easy as packing an eye mask and a few foam earplugs, though many swear by their noise-canceling headphones. Naturally, reclining the seat will help create some room, but passengers should do so politely by asking the person seated behind them if they mind.
On longer flights, even the hardiest passenger will eventually begin to feel a bit cooped up. Getting some work done or going for a walk will kill a few minutes, but most experts agree that a pair of headphones and a small library of movies is the best way to make the flight pass quickly. If planning to sleep through the flight, travelers should ask their physician for an extra dose of whatever sleep aid they want to use so that they can test it out before the flight. Nothing can impact travel comfort like experiencing unexpected side effects at 10,000 feet.