Is It Appropriate To Walk Around A Plane In Pajamas?

Reader Andrew recently asked me the following question via email:

Lucky, I will be flying first class for the first time next week (on Emirates). I’ve never worn pajamas on a plane before, so am wondering if it is appropriate to walk around the plane in them, given what a long flight it is?

This is a fun one!

One of the things I love about premium cabin flying is that it sort of brings us back to our childhood. Like, flying domestic first class on American you get a warm chocolate chip cookie. Where else do a bunch of adults get served warm chocolate chip cookies for dessert?

Similarly, in international first class you can have a slumber party in your pajamas. Other than on airplanes (or a party arranged on Craigslist), where do a bunch of grown up strangers sleep in pajamas?

Emirates-A380-First-Class-022

So here’s my perspective on wearing pajamas on planes, and I’m curious to hear how you guys feel. As a general rule of thumb:

  • I wear pajamas on every longhaul international first class flight, whether it’s a daytime or overnight flight
  • On longhaul business class flights I’ll wear athletic shorts or track pants and a t-shirt in place of pajamas
  • I change into pajamas before the plane even leaves the gate, partly because I want to maximize my comfort, and partly because I want to keep the clothes I boarded with as neat/wrinkle-free as possible
  • For airlines that are known to keep their cabins warm or that have especially thick pajamas, I’ll sometimes just wear the pajama pants, and then wear a light t-shirt as my top so I don’t sweat

With that in mind, is it appropriate to walk around the plane in pajamas? Well, it goes without saying that it’s appropriate to walk around first class in pajamas. And I also think there’s nothing wrong with walking around business class in pajamas.

Personally I get a bit uncomfortable walking around economy in pajamas. I generally avoid walking through the economy cabin on longhaul flights anyway (I figure it’s crowded enough, and the last thing they need it another person). But when I do, I usually at least put on a t-shirt rather than the pajama top. Is it necessary to change out of the pajama top? No. But it just personally makes me feel more comfortable.

But what makes Emirates unique is their onboard bar, which is shared between first & business class passengers. Personally I have no issues with wearing pajamas at the bar, as I’ve never found it to be awkward (other than one time involving a crew member, but that’s a different story).

Emirates-A380-First-Class-068

If anything gets awkward at the Emirates bar, it’s the first class beverage selection. Keep in mind first class passengers have access to premium liquor/drinks, which aren’t just supposed to be served to them in the first class cabin, but also at the bar.

So what’s awkward is when the crew pours you a glass of Dom, for example, and then a business class passenger requests one as well, not realizing it’s only intended for first class passengers. There’s not really a cute way for the crew to say “sorry, that’s not for you.” Fortunately most crews are subtle about pouring first class drinks at the bar (by not doing so on the countertop), but I’ve had a few awkward situations.

Dom-Hennessey

I suppose this is all a long winded way to simply say that there are no rules, and everyone has to do what they’re comfortable with. No crew would find it strange if you wore your first class pajamas anywhere on the plane. So while I personally don’t feel comfortable wearing the “full” pajamas if I’m walking through economy, otherwise I have no issue wearing them.

Ideally just change out of the pajamas before you get off the plane

How about you — do you think it’s appropriate to walk around a plane in pajamas?

Comments

  1. On a related note, I’m genuinely interested to know whether it is ok to lounge in your EY A380 First Apartment wearing the bathrobe?

  2. If the airline has given you pajamas then it is definitely OK to walk around 1st & business class in them. If they do not provide you with PJs then please keep your boarding clothes on or make sure your version/definition of PJs is cabin appropriate. (Some people forget that they are sharing space with complete strangers…I’m certain you don’t want to see me walking around in my negligee & I know I don’t want to see you walking around in your boxers/briefs.)

  3. I fly EY frequently and carry a pair of First Class pyjamas when I’m not going to be in F. I’ll always change into them in J if it’s an overnight flight but not always on a day flight, depending on the length of flight. I’ve never changed into them in Y but I avoid travelling Economy on overnight flights.

  4. “I’ve never found it to be awkward (other than one time involving a crew member, but that’s a different story)”

    Come on! You can’t leave us hanging like that ! 😉

  5. While no DYKWIA intended, I generally find crew working other cabins to be more friendly and accommodating when I walk around wearing PJs. I was walking through the UD cabin of a QF A380 the other way wearing F PJs(note they also have PJ in J although the difference is distinguishable). When I got to the back of the Upper Deck, the crew smiled at me and chatted for a little bit. The stairs to the lower desk were barricaded, so I asked whether or not I can go down to the lower deck. The FA gladly obliged. I can think of a few other examples as well. Generally when crew recognizes the F pajama, they’ll be more willing to accommodate your requests

  6. I wear the PJ only for sleeping. So usually I will change after the first meal service and one or two movies and then change back to normal clothes before the breakfast.
    To the bar, I would normally not go in my PJ….maybe only if I was with some good friends and we are all super drunk so we wouldn’t care 🙂

  7. Not sure I really understand your distinction between pajamas in First and trackwear in Business.

    Overall, I think this is less about pajamas, and more about dressing appropriately for the situation – which of course is a losing battle.

    Are PJs ok on a flight? Sure, if they’re loose and comfy and cover what they need to cover.

    Are jeans ok on a flight? Sure, if they aren’t tattered, riding too low, and covering what they need to cover. I’m more offended by some of the non-PJ outfits I see on, oh let me randomly pick a city, flights to and from Vegas than by pajamas in CX F. I was once on Southwest between OAK/LAX in the aisle. In the middle was a kid who was going to visit his grandparents and in the window was a woman wearing a tiny tank top and a verrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrry short denim skirt. That kind was getting the show of his life – something most people don’t get unless they’re in the champagne room.

    So yeah, jammies are great when I’m paying 8K for a plane ticket. It’s complicated.

  8. PJ’s are fine in J or F (don’t get the reason why trackies/T-shirt are somehow different)……however wearing PJ in Y is a no-no. If visiting from a different cabin, it seems as if you are just trying to rub their noses in it. If you are actually in Y, then whats the point?

  9. YES, I just did it a few hours ago.. Everyone knew I was the only one in first too. When you get to dubai go to concourse A and relax. Concourse B is bigger but more ppl.

  10. I think it’s totally acceptable to wear pajamas in F and J. If I am traveling in Y, I don’t wear them, not because I am uncomfortable, but I don’t want to wait for an unoccupied lavatory to change into/out of them.

    And speaking of pajamas, is it appropriate to wear them in the airport… say SIN? tsk tsk 😉

  11. @tom: Actually, I think us milesjunkies and frequent flyers sometimes overestimate how much people know about premium cabins. I cannot even count the number of times people walked past me in the business cabin (something like 2-3-2 seat arrangement) and making a comment about it being first class to their mates.

    Similarly, I dont think the many of the Y pax would associate someone in pyjamas with first class, particular as most PJ don’t even show airline branding.

  12. i think the better question is… when flying Y, is it ok to bring your own PJs and change into them?
    not that anyone wants to fly Y… but it happens.

  13. I may have crossed the line by sleeping shirtless on my last Emirates F flight. It was so warm in the cabin. I found it interesting that the male FA woke me up for breakfast.

    Also, I was suprised that they simply discard whatever is remaining from the Dom bottle after 2-3 hours. Then when I asked for breakfast champagne, they opened a whole new bottle just for me.

  14. In the very long haul flights one can pick out the really frequent flyers as they change as soon as the FA’s pass out the bag of goodies, pajamas being one of them. I for one enjoy the comfort and completely at ease walking back to the
    bar in the back!

  15. Of course it’s okay to wear pajamas. I will change into my regular clothes – a comfortable but presentable outfit – to go to the emirates bar, though. Call me old school but I wouldn’t wear pjs to a nice bar much less my local watering hole.

  16. I disagree with Lucky on this one. I don’t walk around in Pajamas in front of people. It is inappropriate just as much as walking around with hair curlers in hair in Grocery stores.

    (it is as bad as walking around with socks with sandals!)

  17. @ Lantean — Personally I wouldn’t wear pajamas in economy, though I’m sure others will disagree. Realize that’s a bit backwards, since economy is where comfortable clothing is probably most important.

  18. Question – do you keep the PJs? Not sure if people want to. I know the Bose headsets are for you to use on plane only, so are the utensils. I know the amenity kits are for you to keep.

  19. I don’t see any wrong with wearing PJs on an aircraft in any class (although Y poses challenges in terms of accessing a bathroom) provided they are clean and serviceable.

    That said, I would suggest that it’s generally a better idea to not change into PJ’s before reaching level flight after take-off, or wearing them for landing, because this is the period when things can happen and you never know if you might have to do an emergency evacuation – PJs aren’t what you want to be caught in for that happening (not much protection from environment).

  20. @TEX227 I don’t know whether it’s right or wrong but I have certainly seen photos of people lounging in their Emirates A380 First Apartment in said robes (which I wasn’t expecting) – so clearly you can if you want to.

  21. Yeah Ben, I want to hear about the awkward Emirates bar crewmember story too!! You can’t just drop hints like that without giving us the details!

  22. Suppose this is another of those “cultural” customs. Visit older residential neighbourhoods in Shanghai or Beijing and you’ll find older men and women wandering the back streets in their PJs. Same goes for whether bare feet are acceptable…the transference to inflight depends on how one was raised vis a vis proper appearance in general society. I think it’s totally unacceptable to parade through the economy cabins in one’s F sleeper suit, as well as enter into the business cabin this way when such attire is not offered by the airline in that cabin. It’s just flaunting and exhibitionist. That said, I’m rather old school, so even in F I will just put on the pants part of the suit and keep my shirt on. I’m more concerned about comfort, and creasing my slacks over the course of 9-12 hours than donning the full inflight attire. That said, I also pack these sleeper suit pants (I prefer the LH ones) when I’m flying in business and these are not offered for the same reason. And I also bring slippers if they’re not being supplied on the airline I’m flying, since those flimsy socks don’t cut it for protecting my feet. Always change after seat belt sign goes off…and change back during the final inflight meal.

  23. How else can you flaunt…er, let other strangers know you’re in first class and they aren’t? 😉

  24. My problem with PJs is the changing part. I have never figured out how to put on or take off my jeans without having them sweep the bathroom floor. Even in J or F, those floors are disgusting. Maybe not too much at the start of the flight, but certainly by the end when you need to change back into your street clothes.

    I try to change while in my seat, under a blanket. This carries its own risks, but not the germy kind of risks.

    For those airlines that provide PJs, a changing room would be nice. I realize its not gonna happen.

  25. I get in my PJs asap as well. I never really walk to other cabins, so I haven’t even thought about that. Lufthansa bottoms are my favorite. I always keep a pair stashed in my laptop bag and sometimes wear them around the airport, lounge, etc., since they comfortable, light weight, don’t necessarily look like pj bottoms.

  26. Wearing PJs in a public setting (and any place on an airplane other than your private first-class suite is a public setting) is ridiculous, unless you are waking up to go to the toilet. I can think of no other valid reason for the practice.

  27. I usually travel with a set of hospital scrubs in my carry-on. The comfort of PJs without the stares. Some of them, like those made by Cherokee, are extremely soft and comfortable. If I’m planning on sleeping during a flight, I’ll usually change at the airport.

  28. I love the condescending tone of folks who “can’t imagine” why you’d ever want to leave the class you’re in. Ever heard of walking around the plane to increase blood flow and get a little exercise? It’s not healthy to sit still for so long. It’s also not healthy to wear closely confined clothing on a long haul flight, no matter how old-fashioned you are. I bring a pair of black “comfy pants” that don’t look like pajamas. I wear them in J or Y on overnights and long day time flights.

  29. I know I’m probably showing my age…but does anyone remember when people used to dress UP for travel on a cruise ship or airplane? Full suits & ties (and hats!) for men, women wore dresses and also hats as well.

  30. There’s nothing wrong wearing PJ on Flight within yr designated Cabin as long as they are provided by the airline and that they are stylish!!! Unfortunately some Airline like tried too hard in their PJ Design and their PJ top looks too much like a costume or a waiter Uniform in a Chinese restaurant. A simple Crew neck top or a Hoodie top will do the trick. At the end of the day it’s all about comfort!

  31. wearing PJ’s should be mandatory!

    OK maybe not really, but they are more comfy than any street clothes I own (I agree 100% with Neil above re: some non-PJ outfits are way more tasteless) – for walking around the aircraft (which i do to stretch my legs and back), I do usually wrap a shawl over the top so it’s not so obvious

    I would wear them in Y, but there is that factor of having to use a lav for a longer period of time in order to change, when you know there are probably other pax waiting

  32. PJs are for sleeping and are as private as underwear. If there are strangers between sleeping spot and washroom, then tastful robe (and I don’t mean bathrobe) will provide modicum of decency and protect unsuspecting passengers.

    Newer generations don’t have the history of “appropriate” attire for wonky sittuations like this, so they are redefining the “appropriate” itself. Heck, lots of teenagers are donning PJ-looking outfits in schools and colleges, so we are definitely slipping away from “decent”.

    -Said the old person that wore sneakers and jeans yesterday at work (thanks to teenagers/rebels some 30 years ago that made jeans “appropriate” everywhere). 😉

  33. @Marija, Agreed 100%. First-class is not a slumber party. Just because the airline supplies PJs is not some endorsement for parading around in them. Some young folks are perfectly fine with wearing PJs to work for Pete’s sake.

  34. I’m not a frequent flyer and only economy. But DVT in lower legs is a problem and worsened by close fitting trousers on back of lower legs during the longest flights, I mean 12 hours I have to do soon, dreading it. I will not wear shorts in public off the sports field. On the plane, it sounds like I would not be in trouble with staff or airline rules for changing (in the toilet of course) into loose-fitting lightweight long-tracksuit type trousers of course keeping underwear on. I guess they draw the line at a long male nightgown or kaftan as worn in some cultures but this is much more comfortable for sitting up all night without being able to get up for a walk. Hell, nothing feminine frilly or tight don’t get me wrong! just I always end up wedged in the worst seats and don’t like disturbing other passengers to get out.
    Loose clothing is recommended in advice on avoiding DVT. Once you get it, it’s bad news. it usually starts in lower legs and any clothing pressure there feels bad. I know about flight socks these are puzzling as work by compressing the veins, so maybe I have this all wrong and tight trouser legs on back of calves are better for avoiding DVT, even if impossible to sleep in.

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