There’s a dirty little secret amongst frequent fliers: We don’t like to fly economy. Especially on long-haul flights. Some of us may even have a fear of flying coach on any length of flight and it’s becoming a growing trend.
Since there doesn’t appear to be a scientific name already, I would like to introduce a new word into the English dictionary: Econophobia [e-con-oh-foh-bee-uh]. Noun. An abnormal fear of flying in economy on commercial airlines. Origin: Late 20th-century when U.S. airlines began cutting costs, shrinking legroom and significantly reducing service.
Econophobia usually occurs when one grows up spoiled or becomes an elite member of an airline’s frequent flier program. The latter gets used to perks like free or heavily discounted upgrades. Airline executives act like crack dealers since they give members a taste of what it’s like on the other side of the curtain, knowing they will get addicted and come back for more … though it comes at a cost.
Getting upgraded isn’t always easy. There are times (more often than not, for me) when the first/business class cabin is full, the fare rules on the ticket don’t allow for upgrades or it’s just too expensive.
This is when it can get ugly for econophobes as they tend to pull out all the tricks, coming up with all kinds of excuses to reservation agents, check-in agents, gate agents and flight attendants about why they need to get upgraded: I’m on my honeymoon, I’m too tall, I hurt my back in a car accident. Just full out begging.
On my flight from London to Miami this past week, I noticed that the front of the cabin on American Airlines was wide open but when I contacted them to see if I could upgrade, they said I couldn’t since my ticket was purchased through British Airways, a code-share partner, which was offering a much lower price.
Even if the upgrade were allowed, it would have cost me 25,000 miles, a $350 copay and the Great Britain tax for the higher cabin. No thanks.
So what did I do? Instead of begging or coming up with an excuse, I secured the best seat in coach using these tactics:
Six ways to get the best coach seat on an airplane.
It took some time to get the seat I wanted but I was able to get 31B on American’s 777-200 and it was AWESOME. All four seats in row 31, an emergency row, are comfortable thanks to the extended legroom. But the two aisles are prime time. Even the flight attendant sitting across from me on takeoff and landing said, “You have the best seat in economy.” Now that’s what I like to hear.
One trick to make that seat and others like it even better is to take your carry-on bag and turn it into a leg rest, after takeoff, of course. The photo above depicts what I’m talking about. I would have been even more comfortable if I had fully reclined but that would have been just cruel to the passenger behind me.
So for those with econophobia, there are ways to fight your phobia without acting like a fool or succumbing to the airline executives by breaking the bank.
Are you an econophobe? Let me know what you think and what tactics you’ve tried to avoid this condition.