Upgrade Your Flying Experience

Let’s be honest; flying is not the most exciting, thrilling, or comfortable thing in the world. I can honestly think of better ways of spending half my day that don’t lead to damaged baggage, jet lag, and seat companions who sleep on my shoulder. But, if you follow our Instagram, you will see that we here at Factory travel, and inadvertently, fly a lot.

But we have tips, rules if you may, that we follow in order to make our experience a little better in the air. Yes, sometimes they cost some money, but others are free, and with the end goal of ensuring a smooth flight, then these might help you as you plan your next trip.

Pick one airline for loyalty

United dominates most of my flights for a reason; I have collected over 100,000 miles in the last year between the Explorer credit card and my travels. Those miles add up, and while there are other companies with better reward systems (Southwest being one of my favorites), I fly internationally enough to want an airline that flies to those destinations as well. I have the Explorer card, which gives me free checked bags, access to the United clubs, and priority boarding. Most airlines have similar perks, so find the one that fits you best and stick with it. So far, I have used my miles for 2 round trip tickets, upgrades, and still have enough for another set of round trip tickets, all while still earning.

Don’t pay for an upgrade on flights less than 3 hours

Save your money and just pick a seat that fits you best. those extra 3 inches of legroom won’t do you much for the 3 hours unless you’re taller than 6ft 6in (then we recommend skipping this tip). Save the $50 to $150 and put it towards a fun experience at your destination instead, or even the next trip.

Pay the upgrade fee for long flights

For long journeys, I try to purchase an upgrade if it is reasonable and available. While sometimes it does not work out, when it does, it is worth the investment into your personal comfort and time.

I just landed in London this morning after around 14 hours of flying, and feel fairly refreshed for the day. When I saw the chance to upgrade my full flight to business class for $300, it was a no brainer for me. Coming out to $21 an hour, I was able to sit comfortable the whole journey to London from Denver, passing through seamlessly in security lines and finding a quiet place to relax between flights in the lounges. On the flights, I was able to lay flat, get some sleep, and wake up with a meal, and landing in London was able to take advantage of United’s new Arrival Lounge. The best part? Before I left the airport, I was showered, changed into clean clothes, and feeling refreshed even more. For $300 of upgrades, including the normal perks, this was worth it. I didn’t have to go strait to my hotel, and instead focused on my tasks of the day.

Don’t bring two bags as carry-ons

This should be a no brainer, but every time I fly, there is always that group that is trying to stuff two massive carry-on bags above me, delaying the line on and off the flight, causing havoc, and not really respecting those around them. Check a bag (unless flying Frontier – Don’t fly Frontier), and wait the 5 extra minutes it takes for them to come up. It’s less hassle going through security, getting on and off the plane, and everyone doesn’t think about throwing you off as you cause backups.

Pack mini-toiletries

You’re packed in a metal tube with 100 to 300 other people, and it’s going to smell. Don’t add to it. Pack a toothbrush, toothpaste, and deodorant. My secret is Gold Bond to help keep sweating to a minimal. This is especially important as you take longer trips, it helps to remedy any offensive odors that might come out.

They aren’t the biggest tips, and while I can’t tell you the best way to get free upgrades, these tips have helped me over the years maintain my sanity in an ever increasingly busy world of travel, and hopefully, they can help you too.