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3 Big Ways to Stay Comfortable While Flying the Friendly Skies

March 13, 2019
June 21, 2023
Girl on her laptop while on airplane

Although many may overlook it as an ergonomic concern, air travel is a normal part of life for millions of Americans who fly the friendly skies for business or leisure. It is no secret that flying can be an exhausting, anything but comfortable endeavor, and it appears consumer preferences when it comes to choosing airlines side more with price than comfort. A 2018 poll conducted by MSN, found that 51% of surveyed Americans said their top priority when selecting an airline is price, with only 6% saying it is comfort.

These statistics show Americans are willing to endure some level of pain in exchange for cheaper flights. Nothing wrong with saving some coin but what if there was a way you could save on flights and be comfortable at the same time? Let's look at a few ways you can turn a normal economy seat into a first-class experience (minus the champagne and caviar).

Ride in Comfort

Comfort may not be the top reason you chose an airline, but it should be your top priority when choosing what to wear on your flight. The outfit you pick to travel in can go a long way in deciding how comfortable your flight will be. Flexible, loose clothing. such as athletic wear, can be a great choice that will pay off big time thirty-thousand feet in the air. Remember to put your coat in the overhead compartment or under your feet, and wear a light sweater. The varying temperatures of airports and airplanes can make your muscles tense if you are chilled.

Shoe choice is also huge. A good recommendation is to choose footwear that is easy to slip on and off while also providing max comfort for your long journey. This benefits you in the security line, but also gives you the opportunity to get comfy and remove your shoes on layovers and even inside the airplane. Another good tip is to choose shoes you can stand in without pain for a good twelve hours. This will help you choose footwear that will not cause you pain on and off the runway.

Keep it Loose

Being cramped in an airplane seat for multiple hours takes its toll on the body. This can be avoided by making sure you keep your body as loose as possible during your flight. Taking frequent walks back to the lavatory area can be a great way to get the blood flowing and provides a good space to stretch out to make sure your muscles get the attention they need.

You can also help keep your body comfortable with some easy stretches you can do in your seat. You can get a little creative, but the overall goal is to keep the body loose. Check out these stretches for some easy options in the air:

head flextion exercise
Diagonal Head Flexion: Stand tall with shoulders relaxed, gently flex head-cheek towards armpit. Repeat on both sides.
head flextion exercise from behind
Lateral Flexion: Stand tall with shoulder relaxed, gently move ear towards shoulder. Repeat on both sides.

Hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds and repeat 2-4 times.

Shoulder Blade Pinches
Shoulder Blade Pinches: Reverse postural stress on your shoulders by squeezing your shoulder blades together. Pause, but do not hold.

Repeat 10-20 times.

Wrist Flexion

Wrist Flexion
Wrist Flexion: Keep elbow straight, bend wrist towards floor, and use opposite hand to pull further into the stretch. **Can perform with hand in a fist to increase the stretch.**
Wrist Extension
Wrist Extension: Keep elbow straight, bend wrist up towards the ceiling, and use opposite hand to pull further into the stretch.

Hold each stretch for 30-60 seconds and repeat 2-4 times. Repeat on opposite side.

Seated Hamstring Stretch
Seated Hamstring Stretch: Maintain good upper body posture, extend leg out in front of you putting your heel on the floor, knee can be straight or slightly bent, slowly lean torso forward. Repeat on opposite side.

Hold stretch for 30-60 seconds and repeat 2-4 times.

Ankle Circles
Ankle Circles: While holding onto a sturdy object for balance, slowly move your foot/ankle in a circular motion (both directions).

Hold stretch for 30-60 seconds and repeat 2-4 times. Repeat on opposite side.

Stretching and moving about the cabin are great ways to fight off stiffness so you can enjoy your journey until you reach your destination.

Seat Choice

Now we get into a bit of strategy– what seat choice is the best for ultimate in-flight comfort? Well, it depends on the person. Are you looking to grab a tiger snooze? A window seat is your best option as leaning your head against the window can be more comfortable than using a neck pillow. Bring a travel pillow with you, lean over, and drift off into dream world until you hear the tires hit the ground. Looking for good service? Try the aisle seat where you can always get a flight attendant's attention to make your flight as comfortable as humanly possible.

Lastly, wanting that extra leg room to feel like you are a first-class patron? Grab yourself an exit row seat if possible or an aisle seat if exit seating is not available. Exit row seating comes with certain regulations related to emergency procedures,  but if you are fit enough to meet these requirements to help with an emergency, these seats are like hitting the jackpot. Stretch those legs out and recline that seat, now you are flying high-class.

Wrapping Up

Traveling the friendly skies can be an exhausting adventure, especially if your comfort level is low for any amount of time on a flight. If your job requires you to regularly travel by air, employing just a few simple strategies can turn any economy class seat into a first-class experience. Keeping the body loose, wearing the right attire, and picking the perfect seat for your journey can ensure you travel in comfort and style for many trips to come. Safe travels!


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