10 Ways To Maximize Your Limited Space On An Airplane

Airplane room is limited. Maybe not if you fly business class, or even premium economy, but for most of us who are flying basic economy, those flights can become cramped. While this isn't much of a problem when the flights are an hour long and we can grin and bear it, that can become uncomfortable or even agonizing on a flight that can be as long as twelve hours.

There are some ways you can maximize the space though — it just takes being creative and conscious of what's around you. Of course, there's no way to simple magic more space (we wish), but even these little tips can make that journey the tiniest bit more bearable so you're not stiff and sore by the time you stand up after the plane lands.

RELATED: 10 Plane Etiquette Tips All Flyers Must Know

8 Leave A Middle Seat

This is one for if you're traveling with a friend or loved one.

When you pre-select your seats, instead of choosing two together, book one of you in the aisle and one of you in the window seat. Someone else pre-selecting their seat is much less likely to choose a window seat than they are to choose the aisle or middle. If the plane is full, you'll then have to sheepishly ask to switch if you want to sit next to your friend, but hardly anyone is going to turn down the chance of giving up their middle seat anyway so this shouldn't be too much of a problem.

If the plane isn't full, no one is going to choose your middle seat and you guys will end up with a whole row to yourselves.

7 Lean Into The Window

If you want to sleep or even just rest, you can put something against the wall where the window is and lean into it. On long haul flights, this can be the pillow you get free; on any others, bunch up a jacket or a sweater and rest your head. It'll give you a little more room since you're leaning away from the row and also just might be a tad more comfortable in general.

6 Put Your Feet Up, If You Can

If it's possible to put your feet up, do! This requires a seat free beside you, but if you sit sideways and put your feet up on it, you'll have much more stretching room. If you and the person on the other side of that seat are sharing, it's polite to ask first, though.

You're supposed to keep your seatbelt fastened when sitting down for safety reasons so even though your body is turned to the side, make sure the seatbelt is still loosely fastened across you and it's very unlikely a flight attendant will tell you off. They know how uncomfortable these flights are.

5 Place Your Bag On The Floor (But Not Under The Chair)

You can create the illusion of more room by placing your bag on the floor in front of you. After take-off and before landing, when everything must be stowed away, put your bag on the floor and put your feet on it (unless it's designer...). This will give the illusion of more space before your legs will be in a more comfortable, elevated position.

RELATED: 10 Things People Do On Planes That Flight Attendants Can’t Stand

The problem with this one is that it doesn't really work if someone is tall, but for the shorter people traveling, this level of comfort might be game-changing for someone traveling economy.

4 Otherwise, Put Everything In The Overhead Bin (If There's Room)

If you're not actively using your stuff, put it in the overheard bin. If the plane is full, the flight attendants may only want things in there that are necessary and can't fit under the seat. If not, you can stow your purse, jacket, and whatever else in there during the flight to get it out of the way and not take up the precious little room you have. This way, your feet can slide properly under the seat in front of you and they aren't obstructed by the purse or bag you have under there.

3 Don't Put Too Much In Your Seat Back Pocket

Many people like to take everything out of their bag that they'll need during the flight and place it in the seatback pocket — bottles of water, food, books, magazines, a tablet. The problem is, the thicker that seatback pocket gets, the less room there is for you. If you're on the aisle and can easily get up and down, it's worth stowing your stuff in your bag and only taking things out as and when you need them. Sure, it's handy to have everything right in front of you so you can reach forward and get it, but when your legs are starting to feel tingly with cramp, that convenience won't feel so worth it any more.

2 Put The Armrests Up

If there's a seat free beside you or you're traveling with someone you're comfortable with, put the armrests up to give yourself more room — if they go up. On some planes, the armrests simply won't move, which is just about criminal in our opinion because it can make all the difference to be able to stretch that couple more inches to the side.

Regardless of if the planes have the capability of adjustable armrests, they do need to be down for taxi, take off, and landing though, so be mindful of that.

1 Get Up & Walk

You don't have to just maximize the space in your seat; you can maximize the space on the whole plane. There are usually spaces in front of the exit rows, at the back of the plane, and by the bathrooms and while flight attendants and fellow passengers don't love them being crowded all the time, it's good to get up and stretch your legs, to stand for a bit. Try not to do this when the flight attendants have their carts out, because you can really get in their way, but during the quiet times, it's a life-saver.

NEXT: 10 Small Ways To Stay Active On A Plane

More in Travel