Singapore Airlines Economy Class
Singapore Airlines Economy Class

There are very few people that would turn down an upgrade to Business or First Class. In fact, many of us go to great lengths to avoid sitting in a cramped seat at the back of the plane for a few hours.

But one AFF member believes that flying cattle class has its perks. Sure, it’s not as luxurious as the pointy end. But Economy has redeeming qualities that can make the experience worthwhile.

As Scott K eloquently argues, there is a social aspect to flying Economy that you simply don’t get when you’re enclosed in a private suite without contact with other passengers. When you’re flying Economy, you’ll often strike up a conversation with your seat neighbours and spend time with people you otherwise wouldn’t. In a way, the Economy cabin is like a community.

Economy is always going to be what you make of a less than ideal situation. But there’s a beauty in being inside a flying tin can with others and I have come to love that feeling of closeness with the silent community around me, even as my lower spine melts into spasm in the less than ideal seat. When I travel to a new place I expect that I will be experiencing a different life and culture than where I am from, and will be thrust into dense populations of people I don’t understand but I am keen to meet, no matter how fleetingly. And that starts in the economy cabin where you are often surrounded by home-returners.

Sure, Economy class seats might not be the most comfortable. And crying babies can be frustrating. But noise-cancelling headphones can work wonders. Besides, children do also travel in Business and First Class.

Other AFF members have mixed views on the virtues of flying Economy. Although most people would prefer to fly in a premium cabin, many choose to book Economy anyway for the cost savings. For these people, flying is a means to an end. They’re willing to put up with the mild discomfort and look for the positives.

I wouldn’t go as far as saying I love Y, but I have got used to it – planes for me are just buses with wings – that comfy set of slippers feeling. I know it has faults, but I paper over the cracks in my memory of the not so good flights – and treat them as a new adventure each time. A lot of the times I have had really good chats with fellow passengers, helped out young families with their young kids and got great suggestions from locals from the destination I’m heading to.

I love economy as it allows me to travel as often as I like without spending too much of my daughter’s inheritance. Hope she’s thinking of me when I’m gone.

Of course, long-haul Economy is not everyone’s cup of tea. In particular, many people have trouble sleeping in an upright seat. The ability to lie flat in the sky leads some people to pay a huge premium over Economy. Others sign up for credit cards, undertake status runs and do all sorts of other “crazy” things to avoid the discomfort of an Economy seat for a few hours.

Next time you’re stuck in an Economy seat, try to think of the positives. Even if the person in front of you has reclined, consider yourself lucky to be able to fly in a metal tube in the sky at 900 km/h. There are many people around the world that don’t have the opportunity to fly at all.

Join the discussion on the Australian Frequent Flyer forum: The camaraderie of economy? How I stopped worrying and learned to love the Y

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Matt Graham
The editor of Australian Frequent Flyer, Matt's passion for travel has taken him to over 60 countries… with the help of frequent flyer points, of course!
Matt's favourite destinations (so far) are Germany, Brazil, New Zealand & Kazakhstan. His interests include economics, aviation & foreign languages, and he has a soft spot for good food and red wine.

You can contact Matt at [email protected]