How to Get a More Comfortable Flight without Breaking the Bank

Maybe you don't want to pay $500 for United's VIP lounge but would you pay $50 for a one-day pass? What if your flight was delayed for hours? The free snacks, free drinks (note: US Airways clubs do charge for alcohol) and free WiFi might seem more tempting during a delay but the real value is the airline rep inside the club. He or she can help you sort through your delay a heck of a lot faster than the crazed gate agent facing a long line of angry passengers. Tip: Look for specials on lounge day-passes; I've seen some for as little as $25.

6. Pack a DIY comfort kit

Turn a nightmare flight loaded with screaming kids into a restful nap with a do-it-yourself comfort kit. This can be part of your carry-on or just a small bag you toss under the seat in front of you. Suggested contents: Noise-canceling headphones (I can't fly without them), neck pillow (the inflatable kind don't take up much room), and a lunch from home (don't pay $9 for that tasteless turkey wrap).

Add any personal electronic devices to your kit, too. You'll need them for the number seven.

7. Be prepared for free entertainment

Nothing makes time fly faster than something fun to watch and Southwest now offers live TV but if you don't bring your own electronic device, you won't get to see it. JetBlue and Virgin America have had seatback screens all along and many of the channels they offer are free.

Or here's an idea: Hand your electronic device to the in-flight nanny so she can entertain the little ones with cartoons while you take a nice long nap.

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