We recently published a post on ‘should you wear activewear when traveling’, and this sparked some debate about what’s appropriate or not to wear on a plane.
So in a follow-up post, you can find our best tips on what to wear when flying; what to wear to stay comfortable, while also remaining respectful of other passengers, and not getting kicked off the plane!
There are no universal laws dictating what you can and can’t wear on a plane, and while airline lounges may have dress codes, most airlines are pretty accepting when it comes to the plane.
“As long as you’re not sporting anything that may prevent the aircraft from flying safely, such as a suit of armor or a hoop skirt. – it’s up to the airline to decide what’s OK”.
While all airlines will differ in their approach, here are some basic rules to follow.
Our first tip on flight etiquette when dressing for the plane is to cover up so that you’re being respectful of other passengers.
You can still cover up and remain comfortable, and you don’t have to wear a sweltering sweater to stew in for an 8-hour flight, but no one wants to see provocative wear on a plane or be constantly uncomfortable because they can’t look away.
And if your clothing is too tight, revealing, or inappropriate, it’s likely you won’t be allowed to board in the first place.
Wear loose-fitting clothes, or flowy items that will allow airflow, and keep you comfortable, and moisture-wicking material that keeps the sweat away. Dress in layers so you can adjust your clothing with the temperature of the plane.
Make sure you consider the cultural implications of where you’re flying too; if you’re catching flights to India, and you know the majority of the plane will be Indian passengers, be extra sensitive about what you choose to wear.
Airline dress codes will be more conservative in more conservative countries.
Look Half Decent
You don’t have to wear your best clothes on the plane, but at the same time, you should at least put a little effort in so it doesn’t look like you’ve just rolled out of bed.
Loose, flowy fabrics paired with a cardigan for layering when it gets too cold, can be incredibly stylish these days, as can yoga leggings which have a bit of stretch to them.
Keep in mind that bloating can be a major issue on planes, so if you’re wearing clothing that’s too tight, especially around your stomach, this isn’t the best choice.
And while on long-haul flights you’ll be trying to catch some shut-eye, but that doesn’t mean rocking up to the airport in your pajamas.
‘Unofficially’ too, it’s worth noting that smarter dressed passengers are the ones offered free business / first class upgrades.
Keep Your Shoes On
This one’s a controversial one, as you often see people kicking off their shoes as soon as the seatbelt sign turns on. But (a) no one wants to smell that, and (b) trying to board in bare feet can see you refused entry to the plane.
Once you’re on the plane, it’s a common courtesy to other passengers to keep your shoes on your feet, so make sure to wear comfortable shoes you feel good in. And don’t wear high heels, as in an emergency situation these can puncture the slide.
If you’re taking the approach of wearing your bulkiest shoes on the plane, like hiking boots (pro packing hack), and you’re dying to take them off, consider bringing a pair of hotel slippers to slip on instead.
If you’re still ignoring all of that advice, just don’t become a menace; you’re in a public space, so make sure your feet (a) don’t smell, and (b), aren’t forced in someone’s face as you make yourself comfortable.
In your seat is one thing, but it’s an occupational health and safety risk if you then attempt to walk barefoot around the plane (and honestly quite gross if you’re heading into those small bathrooms).
Closed-toe shoes will prevent you from coming into contact with something funky – which is a real possibility on a plane.
Avoid Anything Religious or Offensive
Our best advice is to wear plain clothes without any type of symbols or sayings.
There are plenty of instances where offensive clothing has seen travelers kicked off a plane, like this South Korean DJ who was kicked off an American Airlines flight for wearing black sweatpants with the word “F–k You” printed all over them.
And most airlines have a policy that “all customers must dress appropriately and offensive clothing isn’t permitted on board our flights”.
Important to keep in mind that what’s considered appropriate in one country may be considered offensive in another, for instance, religious symbols, pornographic jokes or images, protest symbols, or challenges to a monarchy.
So it’s worthwhile sticking to neutral colors, without any prints, symbols, or sayings.
Is a Mask Required?
Ever since COVID hit, it’s pretty common now for airlines to require you to wear a mask on the plane. So this is worth checking in advance because otherwise you won’t be allowed on the plane.
But it’s not just flying without a mask, it can also be the type of mask, for instance, some airlines are banning those with ventilation valves, which allow for droplets to escape.
It’s worthwhile making sure your mask complies with CDC standards as this will usually mean you should be good to wear it onto the plane, though always check with your specific carrier.
Don’t Wear a Weapon
We’re talking about your jewelry here, and while this should be taken literally, i.e. don’t wear something like a bullet casing on a chain, it should also be considered with some imagination.
For instance, don’t wear anything studded, or anything which could be considered to be a weapon because of its shape.
Multi-fingered rings can pose problems and anything with a nail that keeps your bling in place (high heels can also present this risk).
When it comes down to it, the main considerations are avoiding revealing clothing, or anything offensive.
Keep in mind that airline dress codes will be more conservative in more conservative countries and that in general, dressing well is a sign of respect for everyone else on the plane.
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