Suffer through coach with dignity

In three hours, I’ll be boarding a plane for an eight-hour flight – assuming we don’t get held up on the runway. So, when I saw “How to make the most of flying coach” on, I hoped for some great advice. It would have been timely … if it was provided at all. Instead, Travel + Leisure’s Reid Bramblett only explained how much it sucks to pay for a non-alcoholic beverage and watch a shitty movie while wedged between two long-lost friends who have never met before.

“These days, it’s not easy being comfortable – and happy – in coach,” he says. Really? Since Bramblett was little help, let me give you a few tips you can use.

First, put your carry-on in the overhead bin, even though you’re encouraged to put it under the seat in front of you. Though it inconveniences the airline, you’ve now recaptured a bit of space for your feet. You may not be able to stretch your legs fully, but you won’t be as cramped. Be sure to take your book, magazine, bottle of water and iPod out of your bag first. There’s no need to disturb the lucky guy who got the aisle seat.

Bring enough to keep yourself distracted … but not too much. There’s nothing worse than running out of reading material when you’re on a long flight, but over-packing can be a burden as well. Do you really need all seven magazines? Even if you don’t read them, you’ll have to carry them.

Eat before you fly. It’s no secret that airline food blows, and it’s easier to say “no” on a full stomach. Bring a few snacks along (again, don’t go overboard) in case you need a quick fix. This should help you avoid unidentifiable airline grub.

Liquor gets mixed reviews. I know some people who love to have a few drinks to take the edge off (and maybe help them sleep). I tend not to imbibe when I fly. It dries me out and makes me a little lightheaded, worsening an already wearying the experience.

Finally, the best thing you can do is leave any expectations you have at the ticket counter. You’ll only be disappointed anyway. Instead, walk into the airport knowing that you only have to complete the experience; you don’t have to enjoy it. The destination is your reward for perseverance.