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Stuck in Economy? 6 Things Under $100 That’ll Make You Feel Like You’re in First Class

Airports + Flying
by Katie Jackson Aug 11, 2022

Even though you get significantly more real estate when flying first class (not to mention complimentary cocktails), it can be hard to justify paying hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars more just for some extra leg room and a few G&Ts. That said, I’ll never turn down a free upgrade. And while being able to stretch out is nice, one of the best parts of first class are the little creature comforts.

For example, a business class long haul flight on Fiji Airways includes duvets, premium mattress toppers (because your seat turns into a bed) and one of the industry’s best amenity kits with luxurious toiletries, eye shades and socks. Even if you’re not flying in first class, you can still come prepared with accessories that can elevate economy.

From a best-selling memory foam neck pillow to a phone mount that turns your tray table into an entertainment center, here are six products that make flying coach feel a bit more like flying first class. They may cost more than the best-selling travel accessories for under $10, but they’re still a heck of a lot cheaper than paying for front row seats.

We hope you love the products we recommend! Just so you know, Matador may collect a small commission from the links on this page if you decide to book a stay. Listed prices are accurate as of time of publication.

Cabeau Evolution S3 Travel Pillow, $39.99

The secret to a good neck pillow is memory foam. Now that I’ve discovered the Cabeau Evolution S3, I feel bad for anyone I see with a flimsy neck pillow that doesn’t properly support their head. Another great feature of this pillow is its removable and machine-washable cover. I also love that this pillow has straps so I can attach it to my headrest. In the past, I’ve been frustrated by pillows that wouldn’t stay in place. While it doesn’t deflate, it does pack down to be about half of its size. It also comes with a convenient carrying case — a feature other travelers seem to appreciate as well. On Amazon, the Cabeau Evolution S3 has a 4.4.-star average rating from more than 4,100 reviews.

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Twelve South AirFly Duo Wireless Transmitter, $44.99

Plastic, cheap and made with minimal padding, economy headsets pale in comparison to their first class and business class counterparts. (Emirates’ first class headsets, which are made using sheepskin leather, are even noise canceling.) If you’re a frequent flyer, it’s probably worth getting a comfortable wireless headset, ideally with noise canceling technology. At the very least, you’ll probably prefer to use your AirPods in lieu of what the flight attendant hands out. In both cases, you’ll need a wireless transmitter so you can connect your Bluetooth-equipped device to your in-seat entertainment. Frequent solo travelers will appreciate the AirFly Pro, but this particular transmitter from the same company allows for audio sharing with up to two headsets. It’s compatible with most wireless headsets and also works with AirPods.

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Rumpl Travel Blanket, $99

If you run cold, an airplane cabin can feel like the Arctic. Airlines keep temperatures low on purpose to prevent fainting. If you’re on an overnight flight, the blanket you get will probably be a lot thinner, and smaller, than what your fellow passengers in first class are curling up under. Fortunately, Rumpl makes a sustainable (think recycled plastic turned into down fibers) Nanoloft-insulated travel blanket that is not only warm, but it’s also practical. In its stuff sack, the 38-inch by 52-inch blanket takes up about as much space as a water bottle. Speaking of water, it has a DWR finish so it’s water and stain-resistant. I also love that it’s machine-washable. On Amazon, the RUMPL OG blanket (which is slightly bigger) has an impressive 4.8-star average rating from more than 500 reviews.

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Airplane Travel Essentials Phone Holder, $12.95

While international flights have back-of-seat TVs, you often have to rely on your phone and the airline’s app for in-flight entertainment on domestic flights. Since holding your phone for a few minutes of Facetiming can be exhausting, holding it for a feature length film can be straight up torture. That’s why I’m a big fan of this phone holder that easily mounts to any tray table allowing for hands-free viewing. It rotates 360 degrees, so positioning it for your optimal viewing angle is simple. The clamp that holds your phone works vertically and horizontally, too. Finally, it fits any cell phone released in the last few years and when folded up, it takes up about as much space as a lighter. It definitely is more reliable than hacking your way to a back-of-seat phone holder.

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Manta Sleep Mask, $35

People sleep better when it’s dark, and while you usually get an eye mask on overnight flights in first class or business class, in economy, you’re at the mercy of your seatmates who may decide to turn on their reading lights when the cabin lights are dimmed. For that reason, consider investing in the best-selling Manta Sleep Mask. It has a 4.6-star average rating from nearly 9,500 reviews on Amazon, and unlike other eye masks, this model blocks 100% of light. Basically, it’s like having blackout curtains for your eyes. And unlike other masks, the Manta Sleep Mask has eye cups so the mask isn’t in direct contact with your eyelashes. The soft foam cups are adjustable, too, so you can mold them to fit your face.

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Stance Compression Socks, $29.99

One of my favorite first class amenities is the random pair of socks that I don’t mind wearing, without shoes, to the lavatory. When I’m flying coach, I try to make sure I’m wearing compression socks, which increase blood circulation and help prevent deep vein thrombosis. I like Stance’s compression socks because they’re made of a breathable fabric that has properties which prevent the growth of odor-causing bacteria. If I’m going to have my shoes off on the plane, I want to make sure my feet don’t stink. They’re also made of a merino wool blend, so my toes stay toasty. While $30 for a pair of socks may seem like a lot, they do come with a lifetime warranty. In theory, they should never rip or tear. And if they do? Simply contact Stance for a replacement.

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