How Am I Going To Survive 21 Hours In Coach?

by on September 3, 2013 · 139 comments

in KLM, Points Guy Pointers, Video Blog Post

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Some people call me a diva because I rarely fly anything but first or business class – but that’s one of the most beautiful perks about what I do. I invest my time, money and expertise racking up the points, miles and elite status to travel where I want, the way I want. Keep in mind that I’m also 6’7 tall, so flying coach to Australia or Asia is essentially not even an option for me…well, not if I want to have use of my legs after I land!

That said, I’ve certainly flown my fair share of coach in the past – including 3 weekend roundtrips in a row from New York to Copenhagen back in 2011 when fares on that route were just $150, so I’m not a complete prima donna.

That’s why, when the opportunity recently came up to fly to South Africa and visit some friends, I bought a roundtrip ticket on KLM in their Economy Comfort seats. My time for this trip is limited, so the option of making a leisurely connection or stopover in Europe or Asia wasn’t really on the table since it would add a lot of time, and either money or miles to my bill. Instead, I just decided to take my medicine and book an itinerary from New York to Cape Town via Amsterdam.

KLM's Economy Comfort is a decent option for me, even for long-hauls.

I’m getting ready to spend 21 hours in one of these seats!

After a huge fiasco actually trying to secure Economy Comfort seats on KLM (my Delta Platinum Medallion status should have gotten me them for free, but it took an entire day of Twitter exchanges directly with KLM to sort it all out).

But today, as I prepare to spend first a 7-hour flight then a 11-hour flight with a 3-hour layover in Amsterdam in Economy Comfort, it kind of hit me like a wall of bricks what I would be in for. To try to quell my anxiety, I took a quick look on SeatGuru and discovered that my seat would only have 17.5 inches in width and 34 inches in pitch – the same amount of space (a little narrower, actually) than a regular JetBlue domestic economy seat! Not only that, but I’ve been stuck in a middle seat somehow and have been calling KLM repeatedly to see if they can change it, but the reps I have spoken to claim that something is wrong with their computer system and I am stuck, so it looks like I’m out of options for the moment.

Last time I flew KLM Economy Comfort was on a day flight from Amsterdam to JFK aboard a 747, on which the seats actually have one more inch of pitch than on the 777′s I’ll be flying, so it was a pretty easy experience. This itinerary, however, includes a transatlantic red-eye, followed by a layover at the Amsterdam airport, and then another 11-hour flight to the southern tip of Africa. It’s not going to be pretty.

Wish me luck as I set off on my 9,000-mile journey!

Wish me luck as I set off on my 9,000-mile journey!

Luckily – after a few more back-and-forth direct messages via Twitter with KLM, a rep there was able to confirm me into window seat for me JFK-AMS flight and an aisle for my AMS-CPT flight. Phew!

I understand that I live a very blessed life and get to see parts of the world most people never even dream of, so putting up with a day in coach is not the end of the world for me – the title of this article is tongue-in-cheek, after all.

But I am actually asking you, my readers, for all your best tips on surviving two lengthy flights in a cramped seat and make this as painless as possible.

Screen shot 2013-09-03 at 12.50.11 PM

I plan to try to sleep as much as possible on the transatlantic portion and then download a bunch of movies and TV shows to try to make the time pass on the flight from Amsterdam to Cape Town, so I’m all ears if you have suggestions for shows or flicks I should watch (I hear Orange is the New Black is good), as well as any tips you have for looking fresh and ready to go when I land.

I’ve already shared my Top 10 Products for Long-Haul Flights, but let me know yours, and wish me luck as I set out on my 9,000-mile trek! You can follow my adventures on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram, so be sure to send me your suggestions for my time on the ground too.

Disclaimer: The responses below are not provided or commissioned by the bank advertiser. Responses have not been reviewed, approved or otherwise endorsed by the bank advertiser. It is not the bank advertiser's responsibility to ensure all posts and/or questions are answered.

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  • Roy H


  • mullising


    On a separate note do you have to take a vaccination certificate for your trip to South Africa?

  • Wandering Aramean

    Gosh…flying like most of the rest of the world does all the time. What a shame.I did 10,000 miles last weekend in Y and will do 20k more this month in Y. It isn’t all that bad.

    My advice is to stop throwing yourself a pity party and deal. Works just fine for most people; no real reason it won’t for you, too.

  • Wandering Aramean

    None required unless coming from/transiting an area where Yellow Fever is a known issue.

  • thepointsguy

    Calm down Seth. If you actually took a second to read the post you’d know it was tongue in cheek and more of a request for entertainment suggestions. I’m 100% aware that just being able to travel is a huge blessing. However, you’re not 6’7″ so I’m sure it’s much more comfortable for you than me. But I’m glad you’re enjoying your travels!

  • thepointsguy

    Nope.. I took malaria pills when doing safari but this trip is just Cape Town/wine country so none needed (nor visa)

  • thepointsguy

    As someone astutely pointed out on twitter, more than enough time to indulge a little AND sober up :-)

    But I think I’m going to lay off the sauce and try to sleep as much as possible so I’m not destroyed upon landing.

  • Amol

    Are you DL Diamond? Platinum? All I can say is that look for overselling in coach on your flights and be prepared to make sure you’re #1 for an Op-Up to business.

    That said, I’ve flown hundreds of thousands of miles in coach and I’m still alive. Drink lots of water for hydration and stretch your legs every now and then.

  • jcbec

    1 or 2 neck pillows, although they take up a lot of space they are definetly worth it. Good luck!

  • Roy H

    Yeah sleeping and reading are my main time-passers on long flights. Alcohol comes in if I get restless/really bored haha

  • TanyaSLC

    Klonopin or Valium, good ear plugs & a pillow! And yes OITNB is fantastic but some of the scenes would not be appropriate for everyone to see on a flight!

  • Ben Hughes

    At six foot seven, you might have better luck standing in the galley for 21hrs ;-)

    I think it’s healthy for we miles & points nerds to fly in economy on extended trips every so often. Keeps us humble, and appreciative of the value we’re able to extract from this hobby.

  • jmw2323

    are you also 6’7″, or are you even taller?

  • Katrina

    Alternatively, watch the most explicit thing available and hope the person next to you is so disturbed they inch away and you get to use the newly available space.

  • Amol

    I had about 70K straight miles of first/business trips before I had a 25-hour journey in coach (albeit, SQ coach). Lounge access and an A380 for most of the journey made it bearable, but I’m definitely much more appreciative of business/first after trips like that.

  • JR_justJR

    When stuck in the middle, bring an iPad with your favorite music, Bose headphones, extra batteries (!), and learn how to play Sudoku. Get up every 2 hrs and walk around. Take 2 aspirin before each flight to thin your blood. And don’t drink alcohol. Sleep if you can going East, and you will survive. The bruises from 20 hrs in Coach, if any, are in the grey matter, not in the body.

  • Steve

    “How Am I Going To Survive 21 Hours In Coach?”

    If the past few blog posts are any indication, I’m pretty sure the answer lies somewhere in an SPG Amex or Amex Platinum affiliate link

    Considering how hard they’ve been pushed, I’d be shocked if their capabilities where anything short of curing cancer

  • Ben Hughes

    Another way to look at all-economy flying: it’s “invigorating”, in a masochistic, perverse sort of way!

    I’m doing back-to-back red-eye-and return mileage runs next week LAS-IAH-BOS-EWR-IAH-LAS-EWR-BOS-IAH-LAS, ~40hrs of flying without leaving an airport. Considering downgrading myself to economy on all upgraded flights (in hopes agent codes me as Y and I get extra mileage credit). I actually feel *ashamed* to sit in first class when going nowhere.

  • Josh

    I assume mile high club activities are frowned upon?

  • Jane

    You MUST watch the movie “Searching for Sugar Man” if you have not already seen it. It’s outstanding !! and takes place in South Africa.

  • clayd333

    The fact of the matter is that 6’7″ people don’t fly 21 hours in coach. I am 6’4″ and I wouldn’t even try it. My knees wouldn’t work for a week. I don’t think he meant it as a snob, but it is something you can’t understand unless you are tall, and in my case 40!

  • baccarat_guy

    KLM is know for OLCI buy-ups. Also, you can buy-up to Business Class at the transit desk (or lounge) in AMS for any KLM flight. Of course, the € tends to be a bit YMMV.

  • Marlene

    Booze. Lots of booze.

  • Guest

    Xanax!!! Or drink all the cheap wine they serve on ” cattle class” and you will sleep like a baby. My recommendation is: if not happy flying coach, just stay home!!! Like you are being forced to fly to South Africa on coach. Stop whining!!!!

  • Ben Hughes

    Yep; economy class on the SQ A380 LAX-NRT was one of my best flights ever – in *any* class of service. When getting caught up in “first world problems”, it’s always helpful to re-watch Louis CK’s “you’re in a chair, in the sky” video for a dose of perspective.

  • Tyler

    This has got to be the most whiny post ever. Get over it, I’ve seen people taller than 6’7” on Asia flights and they don’t die like you describe. I’ve flown Economy on some of the longest flights in the world, and it’s not as bad as you lead on.Pretty sure I can find tons of people taller than you who would love to fly to South Africa in Economy.

  • Amol

    LOL speak for yourself. Have a “there-and-back” MR tomorrow night and my red-eye upgrade cleared over the weekend. In the words of Astley, never gonna give that up.

  • Tyler

    Wandering Aramean, yet another reason why you are one of my favorite bloggers!

  • Jonathan

    Emergency Row with favorite series.. Breaking Bad, True Blood, game of thrones, Newsroom, Big bang, mad men, Walking dead, House of cards.. It’s really not that bad, you can do 1 whole series in 20 hours.

  • thepointsguy

    I recommend reading the post and not just reading the title and freaking out. I’m actually excited to do this trip- far from whining.

  • Wanderingentrepreneur

    First suggestion is to see what a buy up to business class would be :-)
    Neck pillow is a must for economy seating…and I would take a sleeping pill 45 mins before your flight takes off. Be careful not to take another one though because you will need to board another flight. I would eat and hydrate in Amsterdam and also try to get outside if possible before boarding the CPT leg.

    Other than that, start downloading content to your iPad right now…

  • LarryInNYC

    Dude, ask me sometime about my trip from NYC to Merida, Mexico.

    By bus.

  • Paul

    You have 38 inches of leg room in economy comfort.

  • thepointsguy

    Darn- shoulda transferred SPG points to delta and booked biz… If only KLM had award space!

  • Rings

    You could always order coffe shop delivery. A nice brownie on the side and you won’t care how the next few hours go.

  • Fred

    Travel blogger cat-fight, LOL

  • BartNY

    both options together work best, actually

  • Tyler

    You might think it is, but you are actually complaining throughout- ex. ‘putting up with a day in coach’, and ‘it’s not going to be pretty’. If this is you excited, I feel sorry for you!

  • Chris

    1. Mingle if your single.
    2. If things get hot join mile high club if your not already a member.
    3. Watch a few seasons of Son’s of Anarchy.
    4. Make friends with a stewardess, repeat #2.
    5. Pop a few ambient before dinner and rinse it down with a few bottles of 1oz Crown that you pre purchased.
    6. Pass out for remainder of flight.
    7. Straggle into a lounge which I’m sure you have your pick, shower and shave…. Repeat next flight after 2 hour nap!

  • NguyenVanFalk

    Have done 14+ hour legs to Asia in Y repeatedly in the past few years. At 6’3″ not the most pleasant experience but not hell either. I try to book last row on 777s; the last row is where the seats taper from 3 to 2 on the sides and recline isn’t sacrificed by the bulkhead. Proximity to the galley allows for frequent stands/stretches. Other than that, agree with bringing an iPad and binging on a series. House of Cards, American Horror Story Season 1, any season of 24 and the British series Spooks have gotten me through some long hauls recently. Also, go easy on the booze! Water, water and more water. You’ll feel much better on landing and will be able to hit the ground running.

  • Alex Rosenzweig

    Ive done this very routing. AMS is totally doable and will go by quickly. AMS CPT nix the alcohol and opt for water and sleeping pills of your choosing ;) Enjoy Stellenbosch !

  • JB

    buy upgrade at the airport? KLM has some unofficial policies….

  • SEM

    Did anyone read that the title was tongue and cheek, or did everyones green-envious eyes blind them to it…

  • NotChris

    +1 – Chris, whoever you are, you’re awesome.

  • Chris

    I’ve had a few memorable flights on Singapore and Cathay. It’s always possible to find a good looking girl in couch and invite her up for dinner in first class. But Son’s of Anarchy must be part of any equation. :-D
    Happy Trails! TPG!

  • Matt C.

    I can sympathize – I’m 6′ and still can’t fit into most of the economy seats without putting my knees well into the seat in front of me, or splaying them out into the aisle.

    The 17.5″ width is tough too, if you’re that tall I know your shoulders are at least as broad as mine. I flew 14 hours straight on Emirates in coach, and what helped me on that one was taking at least four breaks to stretch out my shoulders, back, and legs, taking Dramamine and sleeping for a solid 4 hours, reading an interesting book I’d saved for the flight, and using WiFi really helps distract too (if it’s available).

    Good luck!

  • Chris

    Sleep for a few hours, get up and take a lap around the plane, then sleep some more. Worked to get me to Oz and back.

    Minus that, watch a dozen movies and see which ones you can remember at the end. My guess would be two of them

  • Jen

    Nice one, WA! And I’m sure TPG was flying coach all the time when working in HR and doing campus recruiting so he can get back to those roots.

  • Ted

    My coworker is 6’11″ and flew 4 segments a week on CRJ200′s for 9 months, somehow he managed just fine, unfortunately the same probably can’t be said for the people he sat next to…

  • Jason

    Economy Comfort =! Coach

  • thepointsguy

    On the KLM 77W it is 34″

  • thepointsguy

    Actually I never traveled to South Africa when I was in HR, though i wish- awesome country. Though as I said in the video and post, I’ve flown coach a lot- just never 21 hours to the southern tip of Africa. But good one Jen!

  • Sean Hall

    Got everyone beat and beat badly. A C-5 Galaxy to Somalia. 26 hours nonstop, 6 inflight refueling (they’re awful), I was a smoker at the time to (ugh), no windows on the plane as it was a military craft and sat next to a SGT who once played Fullback for the Minnesota Vikings and basically told me I was not allowed to get up and move about. Anyone can beat that, you have my sympathy. Ohh, and I had a 103 fever.

  • Sean Hall

    You know, you really find out how bad a drug problem there is when you offer people sitting next to you Xanax on a plane. Its like a feeding frenzy with strangers. I swear I think a nun hit me up once. But I will say, if you must take a pill like that to sleep (I use drugs of this kind for this and ONLY this) then I would suggest you take it a couple hours before the flight. I made a huge mistake and took one right as we were taking off from NYC to Dublin. It hits me as soon as we land and I cant stay awake on the Dublin City bus. Bad day.

  • Sean Hall

    I have always stated that I am not a member of the mile high club and after all the airplane bathrooms I have been in, I don’t want to be in it either.

  • beenalmosteverywhere

    Mind over matter. Just place yourself somewhere else, try and sleep, and good luck.

  • Ernest S.

    I also struggle to sleep while flying in coach. My recommendation would be to get a good travel pillow (highly recommend the Cabeau Memory Foam Evolution Neck and Travel Pillow on Amazon) and some ear plugs (which are included with the pillow Cabeau pillow).

    Oh, and load your iPad with Plants vs Zombies 2 and Kingdom Rush. Those games have kept me sane on flights as well!

  • Martin

    Well, we all have our crosses to bear. Here’s an idea — fly less and for better reasons. Recreational flying from North America to South Africa is an example of resource-guzzling excess, apparently unencumbered by reflection on cost/benefit ratio. I understand this is a travel blog. Part of being a responsible travel advisor is helping others to discern when not to travel, even when we we’re able to.

  • Miriam

    I fly to Africa a lot for work and my non-profit organization has an economy-only policy. At least you get to be on vacation and have fun after your LONG trip, instead of having to get to work! That being said, I do sympathize. And, yes, you’ll survive, but it’s still no fun! Drink a lot of water and get a good neck pillow! I also use a camping pillow that provides phenomenal lumbar support (try REI’s or EMS).

    I am reading in a lot of comments that it’s possible to get affordable-ish at-the-gate upgrades on KLM? Can someone tell me more? I have a BOS-AMS-DAR coming up soon….

  • MarkWorth

    I have to agree. It does sound like complaining. Granted, this is a blog from an individual so it is one person´s point of view and we should take it as such as he is entitled to his opinion. And yes, I read the entire blog post.

  • jacisme

    I recommend staying up the ENTIRE night before your flight, so you’ve been up for 22+ hours, then taking a sleeping pill when you board. I’ve slept 80% of the way from NY to Tel Aviv by pulling that off.

  • TheInternationalLine

    I think it’s all about setting expectations. If you go into the flight knowing it’s going to be long but survivable, then you’ll be able to survive just fine. One of my favorite flights of all time was in Economy from LAX to New Zealand on Air Tahiti Nui. The flight attendants all dressed up in resort clothes, they played tropical music, and the drinks flowed freely. The staff and others on the flight seemed relaxed and happy. I knew it would be a long flight (and I’m 6’5”), yet having appropriate expectations and being relaxed and in a good state of mind made it a great flight. I also wish other airlines could pull off the same “soft” experience as ATN, since great service can easily overcome a rather crappy “hard” product.

  • Susan

    I just can’t wait for the follow-up post on this!

  • Macavity

    take drugs, plenty of them. or go business

  • Jason

    I’m 6’4″. I have flown 20+ hours in coach many times from US-Asia. It’s a little cramped sometimes. But not a big deal. I now have a family of four. So it is not economically feasible to fly first class. I can’t get that many points. I would suggest asking for an exit row seat.

  • kestie

    Wear heels and try crying/asking for mercy when you check in. See if you can appear 6’10″ and perhaps they will move you just to take pity on your seat mates

  • CR

    I would think that mile high club membership activity including a 6’7″ man in a coach lav would warrant its own blog post. ;-)

  • Big Bill

    Dang yo. I hope it wasn’t after you Space-A’d it… that would’ve sucked…

  • Henry Harteveldt

    Brian, good idea to load up on your own entertainment. I just flew KLM SFO-AMS/AMS-SFO (744s both ways) and found its IFE content lacking in both breadth and depth.

    According to SeatGuru, KLM’s 77Ws do not have in-seat power in Economy Comfort. You may want to pack some extra batteries (or power sources) for your electronic devices.

    To the extent you can, bring as little onto the plane as you can, so that you can stow your carry-on in the overhead bin. Given the 34″ pitch, you want to avoid placing anything under the seat ahead of you to maximize the under-seat area for your feet.

    I’m sure you have a noise canceling headset, but don’t forget earplugs. If the headset is too bulky for you to sleep with, the ear plugs will still help cut ambient noise, hopefully enough to help you get some shut-eye. Don’t forget an eyemask, to drown out the cabin lights as well.

    Eat before you get on the plane, to maximize your sleep time.

    The KLM lounge showers in AMS offer a “generic” combined shampoo/body rinse (no conditioner). If that’s not your thing, remember to bring along your own shampoo, etc.

  • CP

    I wish you had performed a cost-benefit analysis on taking the time to write this comment. Negative ROI.

  • LarryInNYC

    And I would argue the opposite, wait ’til you’re airborne. A friend took an Ambien just before boarding and 15 minutes after they were on board the plane went out of service. Her husband had to drag her, and the hand luggage, the length of the terminal while all she could do was drool.

  • Rob philip

    You’ve got lots of good suggestions so I’ll just empathize with you. I’ve four fourteen hour flights on United in November & December and it doesn’t look like my upgrades are going to clear. I’ll have lots of personal entertainment on my iPad (movies, books) along with the noise-canceling headphones.

    Fortunately I’m only 5’8″ tall so E+ is pretty good for me.

  • Wandering Aramean

    I’ve done South Africa in Y. It is fine. I’m not saying it is a party scene on board, but you’ll survive.

    I’ve done LAX-HKG and back in Y on a UA 744; SFO-SYD-SFO, too. EWR-DEL in a packed CO 772 without E+ and JFK-ICN on a similarly crowded KE 744. LH Y on the A380, 744 and 748i, all across the Atlantic and, except for the 748i, all multiple times, more than a few times in middle seats.

    People talk about how flying in Y is some sort of death sentence. It is pretty sad, really.

  • asar

    I have flown >120K miles in Y in the last 1 year or so; never in E+; giving up upgrades to old passengers. The longest was a 44 hour journey West coast-ORD-MAD-DXB-India. Not a big deal. I have long legs too. I choose aisle seats on most seats and get along fine. I am sure it is not a big deal.

  • Grammar Dude

    It should be “for us miles & points nerds;” always use an objective pronoun when it is is the object of the preposition. You got “it’s” right though, so I forgive you!

  • Trajan81

    6’10 and fly from the east coast to Singapore in coach enough to know these few things…

    1. Get up and walk every few hours
    2. Sleep as much as possible
    3. Hope the person in front of you doesn’t recline the entire time
    4. Y+ is the only way its doable

  • choi

    success had made you soft, way too soft.

  • lycidas1

    Object pronoun. Not objective. You’re contrasting it with a subject pronoun, not a subjective one.

  • BigGuy

    Don’t put anything under the seat in front of you and use the extra leg room. Aisle is as bad as middle or bulkhead–I can’t actually use the aisle for my legs or even shoulder without getting bruises; get a window and you have something to put your pillow against to sleep.

    Not a good way around it. I’m a couple inches taller and always fly coach, but only about 5 int’l trips a year and usually I get the exit row. On some international airlines when I didn’t get an exit row I’ve been lucky enough to stand as tall as I can when checking in and ask/beg as nicely as possible and get a sympathy exit row assignment about 1/4 of the time. Depends on the airline, though. Probably not KLM.

  • Rox

    Just got back from the same trip except left from Houston. Gone for 20 days. One word for you……BRUTAL. I’m 5’8″ & husband is 6.0. Bro-in-law is 6.7″ & no way he would have made it. We did not have economy comfort….Amex screwed up reservations & did not even book seats. So left me trying to book seats & KLM was difficult to deal with. Same story, the computer wouldn’t let them change….BULL. What can I say, the price was right, but not sure if I would do it again. The return flight on Air France was a little better as the plane had different configuration and one flight was not full so we had a seat b/w us. Not sure if I could have done it without the extra seat. I realize the seats recline, but once the person in front reclines all the way, (most do), the flight just gets worse. To get out of my seat, my husband literally had to pull me out of my middle seat as I physically could not get b/w the reclined seat in front and my immobile armrest. The trip was great, the drive along Indian Ocean was awesome. Enjoy the trip. The flight, esp. in coach, is like childbirth. You’ll forget about the pain soon enough and schedule another adventure.

  • Avinoam

    Seth, Thanks for being the voice of reason! What a dumb post by TPG! At least there are affiliate links so we have some content.

  • CR

    I’m not so good at math, but it looks like 35+ (nearly half) of your comments are from some guy named Steve. Or maybe many guys named Steve. What’s the deal? Just a high Steve demo?

  • Mao

    Reason? Not because you are big, but because you are gay. Thousands of people in China take 50+ hours stand-room-only train for New Year and yet they are happy to have a stand room.

  • sharon

    A bulk head or exit row seat for starters… and then plan to spend some time in the galley ,after the first meal is served, with the other economy seat passagers. Eating and drinking complimentary self serve snacks and beverages and chating with each other and the flight crew. There are so many interesting people with incredible travel plans on these flights you might find some new soul mates with simular interests .

  • joey

    sleeping pills.

  • …….

    ….hopefully sarcasm, I’m tired of seeing his self righteous posts all over travel blogs and nitpicking every minor detail other bloggers write about. WA- if you really want exposure on other blogs (Which you clearly want by hyperlinking your site), write something nice.

    Clearly loves to “Wander” into the spotlight one way or another.

  • thepointsguy

    Reading is fundamental, yet optional for so many!

  • thepointsguy

    Congratulations! Very proud of you. Once again, the blog title was tongue in cheek- no death sentence here.. As mentioned I feel extremely blessed I’m even able to travel. Yet that’s a part of the post you ignored

  • thepointsguy

    Love it! Sadly(?) I did not join the MHC.. Yet!

  • thepointsguy

    Agree w Larry here.. Nothing worse than being in a haze as you need to rebook yourself/fight against the herd

  • thepointsguy

    And once again, I said I was blessed to even be flying!

  • thepointsguy

    No seat power, sadly. When I asked the FA she scoffed and said “uh no, that’s only in business class!”

    Good tips- I had forgotten earbuds.. Doh!

  • thepointsguy

    Do they do that?!

  • thepointsguy

    Tried- flight completely sold out on both legs.. But the reps did check at least (unlike delta reps who will bark and shoo you away when requesting upgrade possibilities)

  • A.J.

    best way to arrive looking fresh? Resist the urge to indulge in pre departure cocktails! Avoid drinking alcohol, soda, and coffee on the flight and stick to water (12 ounces each hour in the air) . Keep some baby powder in your bag so you can freshen up, and slather on your favorite face lotion at regular intervals. My favorite movies for long haul travel are Gone With The Wind, Kingdom Come, Notting Hill, & Latter Days. And if you want a fun game dowload “Flow” on your ipad. Have a fun trip!!!

  • So Impressed

    Wow, I really want to suck your dick, but I can’t seem to find an inch that you’re not already covering with your own lips.

  • Jetstream007

    If you are that tall, it’s an option just to (very friendly) ask 1) the gate agent and 2) especially the purser if any seat with some more legroom is available. KLM crews have a lot of freedom to deal with that kind of request. If the flight is totally full, no luck but you only know when they close the door… Timing and the way you ask will make all the difference. If seen many times people being re-seated on board or sometimes FA’s just kindly ask not so tall people if they want to swap seats. Being pushy and demanding won’t do any good, some explanation on your long flights, using eye-contact and a kind and friendly request (“I realize you’re very busy with more important stuff, but…..I would very much appreciate that” will go a long way). Don’t expect anything, you get what you paid for, but many times this works even after take-off (many times they deal with it after the flight is off). Once even got me a BC seat…

  • AG

    Calling a whiney rant tongue in cheek it like prefacing an insult with “no offense”…You will be fine. Your twittering and phone calling and “anxiety” on the other hand is scary. Learn to deal or don’t book the flight.

  • Till

    OK, so it’s not even regular coach you’re flying, but Economy Comfort… how about making a “real” Economy trip? How about RTW nonstop? :)

  • Sean Hall

    Purchased…..don’t let me down Earnest….40 bucks…wow.

  • Sean Hall

    To be honest, I have never flown in anything other than economy. However, thanks to sites like this thats getting ready to change…..*High Five*

  • Connie Marble

    too true and funny.

  • Sean Hall

    Now see normally I would do that but I guess something happened last time. I always used to be afraid to “drop” lol in the waiting area. I once fell asleep and missed a flight. Also, I’m a fatty. It takes a lot of pills to put this horse to sleep.

  • Jerry

    wow 21 hours, that’s a long trip, good luck O.o

  • RT

    Not sure why there’s so much hate/vitriol being thrown at TPG in this thread. You guys need to chill out.

  • lycidas1

    Because we should model our standards of living/travel after china . . .

  • Julianne

    Ambien. It’s the only way you’ll survive.

  • houstonjules

    Wow I’m booked ICN to UUS next week in coach and am dreading it – only 3+ hours! For long haul pack a pillow to put under your butt.

  • BobChi

    I agree the title was meant to be tongue in cheek. Yet you can expect some schadenfreude from those who always travel like 95 per cent of people do on each long haul flight when you for once find yourself in the back of the jet with us. I’ve always noticed that on each flight I’ve taken to Asia or Australia that that most of the people are in economy, and generally everybody gets off without a stretcher, having once again braved the ordeal that some bloggers feel is well beneath their dignity and survivability. Have fun!

  • Jay

    First World problems….why don’t you ask Chase to buy you a ticket again in first class in exchange for promoting their credit card

  • Sarah @TwoEconomists

    Wow, sorry for all the critical comments despite your clear explanation that you are making fun of yourself. We did Cape Town in January and loved it! (Post link below.) I think we actually had the same flight via Amsterdam on KLM too and took an aspirin at the beginning of each leg to keep the blood thinned and circulating. I’m not sure if it made a difference or just was mental.

    Also, if you are making the drive down to Cape Point, stop in for dinner at Café Olympia in Kalk Bay. Their seafood bouillabaisse was amazing!

  • Wire less

    Hey – how are you watching Netflix stuff in the air?

  • stevethornton

    At 6’6″ (2 meters) I completely understand. Since all seats on all the planes are for “Short People”, most everyone I meet falls into this category, the seat just does not fit me. The top of the seat curves forward into my shoulders, making it uncomfortable.

    To combat this design “Flaw” I scoot down in the seat (I only book exit row aisle) but in doing this, my back has zero support. Once upon a time, there were always extra pillows & blankets that I would grab and make a weak attempt to add support. The extra pillows & blankets are now a distant memory.

    To combat this, years ago I took a tape measure with me on one of my Delta transatlantic flights, and measured the gap between the seat back and my skinny rear end when I am in the “Scoot Down Position” and then measured how tall the gap was. I then went to a fabric store, bought some cushion material and some black fleece fabric and hand cut the cushion material into a wedge about 1” thicker than the measurements called for, to allow for the collapse. I then stitched up a cover and whenever I have a long leg to fly, I pack it into my roll on.

    Problem solved.

  • Nancy Buchanan

    I’ll be interested in the strategies that worked for you on this trip! My “inflight” strategy when flying TATL in coach is – 2 or 3 books on my kindle that I’ve been dying to read but haven’t had time to and whatever series peaks my interest (3 seasons of Downton Abbey !!!) and my bose headphones. Other things that help me stay sane. Cucumber wipes for face and neck, good moisturizer and lip/hand balm, yoga pants (nike sweats for the DH), a good OTC sleeping pill, foam earplugs (for sleeping) and getting up and stretching. Also, a roll of tropical lifesavers… can’t fly without them – helps with dry mouth and equalizing the pressure in my ears.

  • Dee

    Have a great flight. I’m only 5′ 4″. But after a coach flight to Australia from NY, I swore I would do whatever I could to fly business across the Pacific. I don’t think you’re a diva. Or a divo?

    Long, engrossing books: I just finished the audio version of “Gone Girl.” If you haven’t read it yet, the twists and turns of the plot should make the time fly. My FB friends got into a heated debate over it. People either loved it of hated it. Started on “And the Mountains Echoed” by the author of “The Kite Runner” and “A Thousand Splendid Suns.” I recommend any of them.

    As for surviving coach on long flights in coach, I prefer an aisle seat so I can get up and walk around often. And… pack your own healthy snacks like Trader Joe’s almond, cashew and cranberry packs. Make sure to buy the biggest bottle of water you can get your hands on before you board. The flight attendants have a lot more people to take care of in coach and will take longer to get around to you than in first and business.

    And doesn’t iTunes have an inflight yoga video to keep the blood circulating in your legs?

  • Sean Hall

    I do have a serious question though. I have an Australian friend and she told me that every single time she has flown to the US from Oz or Australia to the US (around 12 times altogether) that the planes have been half full. She claims its probably the low dollar right now (who knows). This obviously means you can stretch out a lot during the flight. I know this is a risky move to try and save some miles, but can anyone confirm this?

  • DR

    Get Drunk? I’ve never flown over 4.5 hours in coach and that was only twice 10 years ago. My general rule: I only fly coach on flights less than 3 hours. If I can not afford first domestic or business international or redeem miles I don’t go. Luckily my travel dates are usually very flexible and I always finds good priced tickets or awards with Delta.

  • HikerT

    No higher level award space on FlyingBlue? Why limit yourself to low level partner awards when SPG or MR points can come to your rescue?

  • iahphx

    My only sympathy here is height. I fly several times a year in long-haul economy (just back from USA-Australia) and it’s really not a big deal. Honestly, the upgrade is really only worth a couple hundred dollars (at most) to me, which is why I usually sit in the back. Extra room is nice but, really, you usually get adequate food, drink and entertainment in the back. And it’s still the same lousy 21 hours.
    That said, I would imagine that being 6’7″ in regular coach is how I feel at 6’0″ when I’m stuck on some ultra low fare airline (like Spirit). It can be physically painful after several hours. It’s simply not enough space. My strategy would be to present myself at the ticket counter and to the gate agent (if necessary) and beg for some relief (like an exit row seat). It’s worth a shot.

  • Smitty06

    Download all the seasons of “modern family” and watch backto back.

  • Texas281

    Delta rarely has space on KLM in business/first.

  • Pingback: Routehappy Seat Report – Which Airlines Have The Biggest, Best Seats? | The Points Guy()

  • I-heart-TPG

    Wow. I am stunned at the hateful comments on this post. I won’t give them attention by replying to them.

    I will say TPG is one of the best bloggers out there (on ANY topic). Not only does he provide a steady stream of good information on his niche topic, he also knows how to stir his audience up with interesting things.

    But foremost, he has wit and respect for the haters — and allows them to expose their hatefulness for what it is.

    Good job, TPG! :) Viva travel and airline point tips! Viva free speech and capitalism in the USA!

  • Grab-A-Clue


    Straight people of any height or nationality/ethnicity never complain about 21 hour flights in coach — only those gay people do.

    And we all know that the communist Chinese government is truly the most inspiring model of civil societies in world history. That’s why the Chinese government let’s their citizens have as many children as they want, have free access to the Internet, express their views freely in blogs, and let’s them move to democratic countries.

    Oh… wait… OOPS!

  • ohno

    Maybe you should contact the communist Chinese government about those travel issues?

    Meanwhile, for the rest of us, we enjoy a free democratic and capitalist society. We are not ashamed of it (as you appear to want us to be). We wish the Chinese citizens were able to join us in our freedoms.

  • funnyguy

    Mao’s own gaydar has blown his circuits, and has left him in a state of despair as being a Neanderthal . Unfortunately, your tongue-in-cheek headline and wit in the article escapes him, too.

  • yup1


    In your anonymous outrage, it’s clear you didn’t read the article.

    If you had, you would have realized the flippant humor of TPG’s headline, and also might have learned more about TPG’s concerns that many travelers have.

    Your outrage is a display of idiocy.

    What are your other skills?

  • I-heart-TPG

    Hey, “The Miles Professor” — did you now it’s easy to see that you regularly “like” negative comments about TPG? You certainly aren’t a “professor” of the use of social media, but you do appear to have TPG envy, don’t ya?

  • adfa

    please get a life, AG

  • toobad

    yes, but only TPG is the bright one, who appears regularly on national TV.

    The rest are full of envy or jealousy, and spend their time posting anonymous troll hateful comments on TPG… sometimes even stupidly using their own social media profiles, like “The Miles Professional”.

    Get a life, trolls. TPG readers know who you are.

    Success comes from working hard, not being parasites.

  • cat-fight

    too bad your site looks like crap on firefox and my android phone. Instead of trolling here to gain TPG traffic, how about focusing on good content and making your site user friendly. A life as a parasite is generally bad.

  • I-heart-TPG

    you are the few. His site really sucks.

    Also, stats count. WA has just 247 facebook likes, compared to TPG’s 11,000+.

    Also, recognized authority counts. I haven’t seen WA on numerous TV networks, but I have seen TPG on many.. for several years now. He has an ongoing schedule of media appearances, because his content is terrific. .

    All I’ve seen from WA is his trolling on successful sites like TPG, to hope to gain traffic.

    Unfortunately, seemingly unknowing to the young, ignorant wanna-be WA, this is backfiring. Any frequent traveler visiting WA’s site can see from just a quick look that it sucks…and will never return. It’s a waste of time to even read.

    Parasites like WA are eventually exposed for who they are. TPG, in his confidence of a good product that he provides, does this in allowing WA to post comments with links back to WA’s site.

    In the end, savvy folks like TPG win because they are focused on their readers, have a business plan, provide good content, and are unafraid of their critics.

  • joeypore

    Coach is just a reminder how fortunate people like us are to be able to fly business and first all around the world. The times I have to fly coach remind me that when I’m up there in the front, I’m not some millionaire that is numb to luxury. I’m a college student that gets to taste a bit of the extravagant from time to time, and I’m extremely grateful for it. I’ve seen so many ungrateful business men sitting in first class, who seem unhappy so often, but then I sit next to a mother who can’t wait to see her son for the first time in 15 years… (and by no means is that a generalization or anything) but it’s all about perspective.

    The last flight I was stuck on was an 8 hour flight (including holding pattern, still in-seat time) from Dubai to London, middle seat… overnight flight. I take sleep aids sometimes, but when I’m awake I just dig in to the latest TV show I’ve been watching. I’ve found audiobooks, especially good ones are really easy to get lost in. On my journey to and from Dubai, I watched about half a season of How I Met Your Mother. Sure it’s nice, the gourmet meals and such, but just the pure excitement of traveling. If I had to sit in coach or not travel at all, I’d choose coach every time.

  • Peter

    Freudian slip if I ever saw one! LOL I think you mean coach, not couch, but maybe not! ;)

  • Pingback: I Survived and Thrived in Coach! | The Points Guy()

  • AG

    The pot calling the kettle black. I have a life, and I’m not the one making personal attacks on a blog.

  • mike

    I like TPG mostly. But this article playing off his purported sense that coach is so unacceptable is a bit much. Don’t see why TPG has such an attitude or, even more, why he expresses it. TPG certainly deserves the pushback criticism. But I even wonder if this is even a true article. I would not be surprised if this is a made up “reality” travel blogger discussion. Like the “reality” fights on Jersey Shore. TPG merely writing to generate interest in the blog.

  • thepointsguy

    I love a good conspiracy theory! So do you think my Instagram and tweets from KLM economy are staged?? Love it!

  • Paul S Mularz

    Stay up the entire night prior to the flight. This sounds crazy, but you will literally pass out on the first leg and you will be in AMS before you can say “smoke and a pancake”……………. As for the AMS-CPT flight, the good thing is that you are in an aisle. I get up alot during the flight and stretch or just stand in the galley area out of the way from the crew…. This helps blood circulation. I do MSP-NRT-SIN alot, and this recipe has helped me endure the economy flights on this similar lengthed journey

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