Why You Shouldn’t Have To “Dress The Part” In First Class

I always enjoy writing about travel etiquette on the blog, as it generates some interesting discussions. In this post I wanted to briefly share my (perhaps controversial) thoughts on airplane dress etiquette. Perhaps this is partly a response to some of the comments that were left on my Garuda Indonesia first class trip report, about the fact that I wore green “sneakers” on the flight.

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For example, here’s a comment left by Andrew:

this shouldn’t bother me but it does….sneakers? for someone who complains frequently about level of service and attention to detail, you have a role to play too in not dressing like you are going to the gym, and i think you of all people should know to dress better for J/F class flying.

And a comment left by CJ:

Really?? You’re flying a top-notch, SkyTrax 5-Star Airline in F and the best you can do is wear Asics “sneakers”? Wow. Please tell me you weren’t wearing “sweat pants” to match.

So let me share my general opinion on “dressing up” while flying, and then I’d love to hear what you guys think.

What you should and shouldn’t wear on a plane

Personally I think the same clothing “etiquette” rules should apply in economy, business, and first class. I’m pretty easy-going, so I think:

  • You should wear clean and non-smelly clothes
  • You should cover everything that needs to be covered (every so often we see people get kicked off flights for exposing a bit too much of themselves)
  • You should wear close-toed shoes; I’ve seen too many people with gross feet wear open-toed shoes (personally I don’t mind if people are barefoot if they take care of their feet, but that’s the problem with self-selection — everyone thinks they have nice feet)

Again, I don’t think the above should be “rules,” but those are my thoughts on the general guidelines of what to wear when flying. Most everything else is fair game, regardless of what class you’re traveling in.

Why you shouldn’t have to “dress up” to fly first class

A lot of people choose to dress up when they fly in premium cabins. I totally respect that and see why they do it, though hope they also respect when other people choose not to.

So let me make the simple case for why you shouldn’t feel like you need to dress up to fly. If you’re expected to “dress the part” in first class, why do airlines distribute pajamas and slippers, and encourage you to change into them before takeoff? For those who believe you should have to dress up to fly, do you oppose changing into them?

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A lot of people like to draw parallels to dining in top restaurants, etc., though last I checked, most restaurants don’t give you pajamas and slippers to change into before your meal.

Others reference the “good old days” of flying, where people dressed up. I don’t know how many decades we’re going back with that argument, but if we’re going to go back several decades, then it’s important to recognize that flying was a completely different mode of transportation then. 50 years ago airplanes weren’t sleeping quarters, but rather they were restaurants, social clubs, and cigar bars. Flying also wasn’t something that many people did weekly, but rather something that was rarer, and inflation adjusted, significantly more expensive.

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Bottom line

I respect everyone’s right to dress how they want on a plane, whether that’s in a suit or (clean) sweats and a t-shirt. Personally I don’t follow the logic of those who are horrified by people dressing down for a long flight, when many airlines encourage passengers to change into pajamas and slippers once they’re onboard.

I’ll gladly continue sometimes wearing sneakers and sweats in first class (and other times jeans, dress shoes, and a button down — it all depends on my mood and the type of travel day I’m having) with no regrets…

Where do you guys stand on this? Do you dress up to fly, and do you think you should have to dress up in a premium cabin?

Comments

  1. I surrely dress up if I pay for a Business Class and expect an Upgrade to First, and don’t get me wrong, IT WORKS! You will never be Upgraded if you arrive on a bermuda or kind of it!

  2. why should I dress up and be uncomfy for hours? I usually change before into some more comfy clothes (leggings, tunika, etc) and change shortly before arriving again, if there is no arrival lounge or time for a quick shower.

  3. Well, if it’s “discussions” you’re looking, for I’ll post this:

    In FC it’s best to wear clothes from Ivanka’s designer line.

    I’m sure Tiffany totally agrees… 🙂

  4. In short, you can do whatever you want. But I personally believe you should be dressed in “proper attire” of wearing slacks and a polo shirt at the very least. They give you those pajamas because they figure you are dressing up nice and not wearing sweats on a plane and want to change into something comfortable.
    I don’t wear suits in first class, and maybe I should who knows, but I think if I wear dress shoes, slacks/dress pants and a button down shirt or a polo shirt, I think that’s nice enough for first class. I personally wouldn’t wear jeans or sweats in first class. They provide me top notch service and are extremely professional and dressed well, the least I could do is treat them well and be dressed properly. But that’s just me…
    I don’t think that an airline company should force you to dress a certain way either, I believe you have rights on an airplane (unlike some other people on your blog) but I (and others if they choose) take it upon myself to dress better. At the same time if you sat next to me in sweats and sneakers, I really wouldn’t care, that’s your choice.

  5. I couldn’t agree more. Having traveled quite a bit in J and F, often on paid tickets, my philosophy has always been that if you can afford to buy the ticket, no one should be telling you what you can and cannot wear, so long as you are sufficiently covered, not smelly, etc. I’m willing to bet that most of the people traveling in J or F who are well-dressed are either coming from, or going to, business meetings that require they be dressed like that. Otherwise, I don’t see who in their right mind would choose to travel in a suit or dress….it’s just dreadfully uncomfortable.

    More often than not, I haven’t been met with disdain from the crew or passengers, though I once had a BA gate agent at LHR T5 tell me “we aren’t boarding economy yet” on a flight to JFK. I handed her our boarding passes for 1A and 1K….you should have seen her chin drop! Cue the “forgive me sir, I apologise!”

    As they say, don’t judge a book by the cover 🙂

  6. Yeah, its all about comfort. As long as you dont look messy, disheveled, or dirty, sweatpants and t shirt are a go. If i’m on an ultra long haul, I want to be comfortable.

  7. Airlines give you pajamas so you don’t have to sleep in your nice clothes. Of course you should “dress the part” in first.

  8. Lol, I don’t think there is a “dress code” on flights beyond the normal basics of appropriateness, casual/business casual etc. Sleeved shirts, long pants, and closed toed shoes should be the norm. So I think it’s perfectly fine to wear a T shirt, jeans, and comfortable leather walking shoes and that is what I typically wear flying anywhere. I think people are disgusted (me included) about the blue Asics sneakers. It’s not the category of shoe that sets me off, it’s the way it looks (like baggy jeans for example). It looks extremely hideous, dirty, not to mention insanely tacky even inside a gym. There are tons of comfortable close toed shoes you can choose from from Tod’s, Prada, Ferragamo, even Zara or H&M, and a few Adidas or Nike lifestyle sneakers (NOT tennis shoes) if you must. But for the love of God, please discard those tacky Asics shoes immediately.

  9. When I first started travelling in Business I used to dress up, now I wear whatever is comfortable and normally change into shorts and tshirt once airborne anyway. Long flight = comfort over high fashion for me!

  10. I agree with Lucky on this one. I am more more concerned with how my fellow passengers smell, than how dressed up they are. When I travel in First it is typically a 10 to 15 hour flight. I am going to be laying flat and trying to get some sleep. Other folks are going to be in their pajamas. More and more there will be crying babies in the cabin. There is no way I am going to where a suit. Even at $15,000 – $20,000 a ticket it is still just an airplane, with airplane food, airplane seats, and airplane service. I am on the same schedule as the folks in business and economy. I am standing at the same luggage carousel with everyone else after the flight. It is not Le Bernardin. A pair of chinos and a button down shirt are more than suitable. And yes I wear sneakers! They are easy to get on and off at security, easy to get on and off on the plane, adequately address swelling of the feet, and make walking through airports much easier.

  11. I think this “dressing up” culture goes way beyond and airplane.
    I generally feel that US citizens choose comfort over style, while europeans choose style over comfort.
    I can fly AA First class with a sneaker, jeans and a shirt and feel okay. But whenever I fly european / asian carriers in first and business class, I do feel the need to dress up a little bit.

    Once a spanish friend told me that sneakers are for gym and outside activities. Only.

  12. I’ve occasionally worn sneakers with jeans and appropriate shirt or sweater in J or F but never sweats. I believe you get better treatment from everyone if you dress in business casual or better while in transit.

    The worst thing is people, mostly men, with stinky feet who take off their shoes and force their offending odor on everyone within a three row radius.

  13. There is absolutely no reason to dress up to fly Business and/or First class. The argument of past decades is ridiculous as times change (sometimes not for the better in every way), and there are lots of places that people no longer dress as they once did…Disneyland…the office…even church.

    Outdated way of thinking, but to each their own. If you want to wear a suit (or slacks and polo) I won’t judge you just as I think it is ridiculous that anyone judged OMAT for wearing Green Asics.

  14. The reality is far too many people dress (and act) like slobs in all classes.

    If you are above the age of ten, you should dress as though you were invited to a neighbors house for dinner. That doesn’t mean you have to dress up like for a formal business meeting….but you should be neat and at least a little cleaned up. This projects respect, which is appropriate when you are surrounded by other passengers in circumstances that will at least sometimes be challenging, and served by professionals who have responsibility for the safety of many other people.

    Speaking of which, a good item I’d love to hear your take on is the amount of booze people polish away on board…..I’m stunned how many people hit the sauce even on early-morning flights. I don’t know if it suggests widespread alcoholism, or just the fact that there are a lot of nervous fliers who self-medicate.

  15. I’ve flown Singapore Suites, Cathay F, Japan F, United F, American F, etc… I ALWAYS wear sweats and usually a thermal or hoodie. LOVE IT! Relax and enjoy the life. I also have stayed in many Park Hyatts and check-in the same way. One time, in the Park Hyatt Buenos Aires, a lady actually said something to me in the extend of how is he in here? I responded with the extent, I’m in the Penthouse Suite on the top floor….where are you staying? She didn’t respond….again LOVE IT!!

  16. I’m with Lucky. If I’m going to be dealing with airport security and maybe rushing from one area to another, plus a long haul flight and then more airport fun, I’m going to do it dressed comfortably. I get changed once on board anyway, so what’s the point in dressing up? Are you going to pretend the aisle is a catwalk and strut back and forth and show off?

    If on a domestic flight, for business where you have a meeting right after, then sure. Otherwise, you’re probably heading to a hotel or somewhere where you can freshen up anyway.

  17. I fly in internationally almost exclusively in paid F, and I will wear whatever the f**K I want to wear, and I’m not going to let some mother f**kers who make less than me flying on points and miles critique my wardrobe.

  18. I’m not one for track suits but I see lots of women wear them on long haul J . Short haul tends to be less casual… Lots of men wear jackets (which the FA will hang in the closet) even on leisure trips, partly because they don’t want to fold them in the carry on(?)

    In F anything goes as everyone will change into identical PJs anyway

  19. It never even occurred to me to dress up when flying in a premium cabin. It’s not like going out on a Friday night, it’s transportation. There is no one to show off for and it’s not a social event – as evidenced by how airlines are pushing for suites. It’s a meal, a movie, a desk, and a place to sleep, and mostly people keep to themselves.

    People who want to dress up for these things are trying to make first and business class into something they are not.

  20. Those shoes are disgusting. Period. No one cares if you wear sneakers. Just get some nicer ones. I don’t think a 5th grader would be caught wearing those ugly things.
    Many nice brands sell sneakers. I’m sure you could afford a pair of Berluti or Bally sneakers. Especially since you had a post wear you said you wore $300 sweatpants.
    And if you don’t want to spend that much Nike Roshes or Adidas boosts are nice as well. But asics? What are you, a stay at home dad going to the YMCA gym?

  21. 50 years ago, guys wore a shirt and tie on a daily basis (whether flying or not). Today, not so much.

    Tommy Bahama is my preferred clothing line for being comfortable yet presentable while flying. If you don’t own any, run to Nordstrom Rack and pick some up.

  22. It always confuses me why people care so much about what others are wearing on a flight when it’s purely an aesthetic / style question. If how you’re dressing offends them so much, why aren’t they flying private? Surely it’d be less stressful than having to constantly survey the cabin seeing what others are wearing.

  23. Until or unless airlines implement a dress code, then I don’t give a damn what anyone else thinks about what I am wearing provided it is not inappropriate. Basically, as long as the bits that ought to be covered are covered, I’m good. I do stick to a no shoes-no shirt-no service policy, at least. But, if I want to wear open-toed sandals, I will do so. If I want to wear a ratty old t-shirt and (clean) gym shorts, I will do so. I take the same attitude whether I fly Economy, Biz or First; Spirit, Southwest, Delta or Emirates.

  24. I fly (and pay for!) J to sleep comfortably. I wear everyday comfortable clothes, and I’ve never experienced bad service that I’ve believed to be related to my dress code.

    No matter Y, J or F class, the airline is there to serve my travel needs, not the other way around.

  25. If it really bothers someone that I’m dressed comfortably in first, that is their problem, not mine. Most of the people complaining are simply wanting to keep the “riff raff” out of premium cabins, aka the poors and minorities. They’d love to go back to the glory days of nearly all-white clientele, cigar smoke filling the cabin, and being able to slap the “stewardess” on the behind while they serve you steaks.

    Thankfully, as those folks see their dying days approaching, we will have less of their classism. The current worldwide political climate seems to be making these people bolder and bolder, but I’m confident that as their generation dies off, their children and grandchildren, who have grown up with more diversity in both race and class, will do away with their closeminded-ness.

    In the meantime I’ll continue to bask in the glory of their dirty stares, knowing that their day is ruined because I am wearing Lululemon sweatpants in first. The horror!

  26. Why the exception to want closed toed shoes (assuming good foot hygiene)?

    Feet look gross? So do faces. Keep personal esthetics out of it.

  27. I don’t really think a bespoke suit is required if I’m using some miles and $70 to fly Cathay first/biz for 25 hours. Dress for comfort until the pajamas go on.

  28. EY F — one time we were standing in the aisle, waiting to deplane, I said to my friend, “oops, I guess I should’ve changed (out of my PJs) back to my street clothes.” The FA heard us, and said, “you are flying in first class, you can wear whatever you like. No need to change.”

  29. If I’m paying (miles or cash) then I’m wearing what I like. Which means jogging bottoms, trainers & t-shirt. I find it hilarious that people feel like they should ‘dress up’ for travel, or anything else for that matter (when they’re paying).
    Similar to catering – I’ve walked away from restaurants before because they try to make me wear a suit jacket to dinner. Their loss, for being stupidly pretentious about eating some food.

  30. its not about dressing “the part.” It is more a matter of, when traveling, that you never know who you will see. We have all worn sneakers in business class especially at the end of a long trip, but I will never accept the people who show up in baggy shorts and sandals to fly having purchased mcdonalds to eat on board. its gross.

  31. I totally agree with you Lucky.

    Whether travelling first, business or economy; my go to flight outfit as a regular long haul flyer is this: jersey sweatpants, cotton tshirt, jersey sweater, leather jacket, old biker boots (for ease of slipping on and off). Plus a slick of mascara & copious amounts of face moisturiser & lipbalm. Strictly no perfume. I take a second shower of the day in the lounge, so that I’m squeaky clean for the flight.

    If I’m feeling like “dressing up”, I’ll wear jeans in the lounge and then change into sweatpants pre-boarding. The thought of wearing tailored clothing on a long haul flight makes me uncomfortable just thinking about it!

    The only “rule” I’d add to yours Lucky, is having sufficient layering options in your carry on. As a novice, I’ve had to both borrow a crew’s sleeping bag for warmth on a freezing BA BC flight (despite wearing my coat, two pairs of socks and the one blanket, no spares that day); and another time reluctantly strip to undies under a cotton blanket on an unbearably hot JAL FC trip (with a VIP who was too cold!). Now I always carry a singlet (gasp!), extra jumper, extra socks and a scarf.

  32. Wow, it seems I’m at the extreme opposite. Less than a week ago, I flew EY F from MLE-AUH, then EY apartment AUH-JFK. Since I was coming from Maldives, I wore a very casual shirt and shorts on the first flight, then changed into jeans in the AUH EY lounge only because it was cold (but same shirt). I wore sandals for all flights. I’ve dressed like this on most of my J/F flights and never gotten a dirty look from staff or other passengers, though I have wondered in the past what others think of me, being dressed like this.

  33. When I fly, no matter what class or airline I’m flying, I’m going to be wearing shorts/sweats and a t-shirt. That’s actually how I dress ALL THE TIME unless I’m at work, a job interview, or some kind of religious service. If anyone has a problem with that, they can go screw themselves. If they’re going to get all pissy about my wardrobe (which has NO direct effect on them), I don’t want anything to do with them anyway.

  34. I’ve flown F and J countless times transatlantic, predominantly BA, but also AA, EI, and even LH, and I would never consider dressing up. Perhaps the fact I work in a casual workplace, where jeans, hoodies, and t-shirts/casual shirts are the norm, influences me a little bit. But mainly, I’m gonna wear whatever I feel comfortable in. Wearing a suit on a plane(or a formal shirt), even in F, would be absolute torture, I wouldn’t wish it on my worst enemy.

  35. I think it’s down to personal choice. If I’m flying short haul I’ll wear what’s convenient like jeans, tee, & runners.

    If I’m in J or F on a long haul, I personally do prefer to dress up from that usually still with smart jeans but with shoes, shirt & jacket as I like to be (reasonably!) smartly dressed in the lounge etc before the flight. Usually a good J or F steward will offer to hang my jacket upon boarding. I’ll always stay in those clothes for the meal service after takeoff before changing into pyjamas (or if they’re not available on the particular airline into my own sweatpants & long sleeve tee) before bedding down for some sleep. I’ll always change back into the jeans, shirt & jacket before the seatbelt signs come on & to go through the airport in.

    All down to individual choice I suppose & it doesn’t really bother me in the slightest what others do if that’s what they feel comfortable in.

  36. Your clothes should be neat, clean, well-fitting, non-offensive (slogans, revealing etc) and comfortable. I usually wear neat, smart jeans and spotless, stylish trainers with a plain, well-fitted t-shirt/polo in J, and go upmarket to a collared shirt, chinos and loafers/boots in F.
    You need to be comfortable so I usually bring plain sweats/t-shirt to sleep in whether Im receiving pyjamas or not.
    I think people look far better in stylish, well-fitting new casual wear than a crumpled, stained old ill-fitting suit and scuffed dress shoes.

  37. I do not get the idea of wearing a business suit or something just because I am flying. My dad used to always wear at least a sport coat but that was 30+ years ago. To me as long as people are presentable, do not stink, and are not rude then all is good.

    Given how dirty planes are (pillows, seats, blankets, etc) I would think people would not want to wear their formal wear anyway.

  38. I dress in what I consider a balance which is smart casual and then change on the plane into pj pants and t shirt. You’re not only a plane when travelling but there is a before and after where you would be in a train/cab and roaming around a terminal/lounge. I’m one of those people who would never leave the house without showering and never wear sweat pants or gym shoes outside my house unless I was going running (the only time athletic shoes should be worn; fashion sneakers exist for a reason). If I wouldn’t dress a certain way in a mall, at the movies, or even a restaurant, why would I dress that way to an airport? It’s almost as bad as people who wore sweats to class in university…

  39. How can you be expected to dress up when the entire business case for J and F is the ability to sleep. Do you stay at the Peninsula and climb into bed wearing a dinner jacket?

  40. I know AND respect the different opinions here. I’m a big guy and I get very hot on most plane rides. I also tend to pay out of pocket for business and first class fares, and I’m often on long haul flights with a fuel stop in between. Put these all together, and you have an easy recipe for dressing like a comfortable bum. It’s not uncommon for me to wear a t-shirt and linen shorts to keep nice and cool on the plane. I even bring a set of sleepwear in my travel bag so I can keep my primary clothes fresh. I hope it doesn’t offend anyone, but I feel pretty good about wearing t-shirt and shorts or jeans when I pay $6000 for a Singapore Airlines flight across the world.

  41. I basically agree with everything in this post. A good friend of mine is VERY old fashioned and he used to always wear as suit when flying no matter what class. But even he stopped doing that a few years ago.

    The most important thing is having a good attitude and being polite. And being generally clean.

    I usually wear a nice button down shirt mainly so I have a pocket for my phone, bp, etc. If I am offered pajamas I put them on once we’re in the air and cruising. I never put them on before then for a variety of reasons – the flight could still get canceled and then you have to change back, if we have to evacuate I’d rather be in my own street clothes than airline pjs, etc. It’s the same reason I keep my shoes on until we’re at cruise.

  42. Totally agree with you Lucky. I’ll add – a “rule” I have an recommend, and it probably comes from the student pilot time, is to always wear comfortable shoes (yes, sneakers) and pants (jeans being best). In an emergency – pants and shoes go a lot further than shorts and sandals. The chance of an issue is so beyond slim, however, that’s what being prepared is about.

    As to style – mind ones own, enjoy and be clean. Easy… Otherwise, sell the ticket with a dress code notice.

  43. I pretty much always wear tracksuit bottoms and a t-shirt, and trainers or flip-flops on my feet (depending where I’m flying from/to). If I’ve paid for the flight, I’ll dress how I want. Can’t believe some of the people on here!

    I’ll also knock back glasses of champagne and G&T at 6.30am. I don’t fly for business, only for leisure, so I’ll relax and enjoy myself!

  44. If people want to dress poorly that’s their prerogative. I dress in whatever I like as long as I don’t feel too embarrassed.

    If people want to wear open toed sandals, confederate flags, Female Body Inspector shirts, smelly clothes, fart out loud, whatever…. it’s public transport and it’s not my job to be an air marshal. On the flip side, people also have the freedom to say things like “take a shower, buy new shoes, etc…” so freedom can run both ways.

  45. I always wear yoga pants/sweat, tshirt and hoodie when I fly because they are comfortable and I don’t mind if they get dirty( I don’t want coffee, apple juice etc. split on my expensive, nice clothing. I don’t want it split at all, but it has happened). I then change at the lounge or hotel into whatever I need to be in. I wore this in emirates first and noticed that every other person wore the same except for one in a suit who turned out to be a pilot. No one seemed upset. I went back to the bar in business and people seemed dressed better in first but I don’t understand how someone in heels and stocking can be comfortable for that long.
    I have trouble finding shoes that fit me and meet my doctor’s specifications for ankle problems so I find myself with shoes in weird colors, but apparently I should be buying prada just to fly because tennis shoes “the horror, the horror.” Or sneakers are ok, but mcdonalds is not because airplane food(esp. in coach) is so amazing that why would I bring something else on? Or it’s just that I’m not spending enough on shoes?
    Wear whatever you want but don’t get mad a me for being comfortable on a 13 hour flight while you look like you’re ready for the office but feel miserable.

  46. We live in a slovenly and lazy culture. And that is reflected in how we dress.

    I will continue to buck the trend and make an effort to dress nicely (button down shirt, nice slacks), even on 14 hour flights. I also make a point of shaving, unlike many guys these days. Nothing says “slackass millennial bum” like a three day growth of stubble.

    For some reason, Lucky’s sneakers didn’t bother me. I didn’t even notice them until I read the comments section of that post.

  47. I’m with Ben. I’ll wear things that are clean, and comfortable. I’ve worn hiking boots on a long haul F or J, coming home from European vacations in the Alps. Changed into the provided slippers on the flight home.

    This particular comment is funny and sad at the same time:
    “There are tons of comfortable close toed shoes you can choose from from Tod’s, Prada, Ferragamo, even Zara or H&M, and a few Adidas or Nike lifestyle sneakers (NOT tennis shoes) if you must. But for the love of God, please discard those tacky Asics shoes immediately.”

    For the love of God, stop being that uptight.

  48. Totally seems like a generational thing to me. People in younger companies no longer dress up for work either. I sometimes wear a nice sport coat to work and usually wear button downs but always wear jeans – I haven’t worn slacks in years except if I have a suit for weddings or nice dinners. As long as someone looks “put together” I could care less if they have a (nice) sweatshirt or a suit and tie.

    I feel similarly about flights – I am only dressed up in First / international business if I’m going to or coming from a meeting that required it. Otherwise I optimize for comfort though typically I don’t feel comfortable transiting in sweats.

  49. If you are a paying customer and meet the airlines rules for attire, you can wear whatever you want. Peiriod.

    I pretty much always dress the same, so it doesn’t matter to me. I wear loose-fitting jeans and a button-down dress shirt most of the time. And, bright sneakers…. If people don’t like it, they can pay to fly private.

  50. I for one always dress for comfort but I am going to stick my head out and say this also. As a white male, people like Ben can dress as scruffily as they want but the world being the way it is, most people wouldn’t doubt his presence in a premium cabin. It is also a known phenomenon in some parts of Asia where upmarket hotels might have a dress code (no flip flops in non-pool public areas for example) and the staff will turn away people of color but happily let in white people no matter how they are dressed.

  51. If you plan on sleeping in a wonderful lie-flat seat on a long-haul flight, then wear what is comfortable. Firstly, sleeping in a suit or khakis just to keep up an appearance is just plain stupid. Additionally, if the argument to my previous statement is: “Well you can change into the pajamas they provide.” No. Being 6’4″ with broad shoulders, I WILL NOT enter a tiny lavatory to change into a sausage casing (pajamas), as well as subject my feet to wade in the bacterial piss-broth of other passengers. It’s not happening.
    If the airlines are selling comfort up front, and you’re paying for that experience, then you have every right to experience it to the hilt. Anyone that questions otherwise is clearly arrogant or old-fashioned.
    Ben: Please continue wearing your sneakers. I’ll continue to go a step further by wearing my comfy Sanuk Chiba slip-ons (and I dare anyone to confront me in-person about it).

  52. I guess I’m one of those ” slack ass bums” that Imperator refers to. Most business people already need, or should shave daily but on the weekends, that’s my downtime.

    I am an avid cruiser (twice a year) and one of the biggest griping points on the blogs is that some passengers don’t respect the dress code in the dining rooms on formal nights. My take on it is that if a passenger seated next to me is not wearing his Cerutti 1886, then blast the host/ess who let him in, personally it’s not going to ruin the taste of my steak, as long as the passenger doesn’t smell like the farm it came from. LIke every thing from traffic signs to express check outs, to dress codes, to speed limits . . either enforce them fully, or toss them out because given half a chance, we chest thumping, knuckle dragging Neanderthals will always push the envelope if we can. I say, send the whole lot of us to Siberia so the good folk (like Imperator) can breathe a sigh of relief.

    We as paying consumers (points, revenue, upgrades, full fare) should be able to wear whatever is comfortable and sensible. On my flights to Florida, some passengers dress in short shorts and flip flops . . . God help them if the plane ever goes down.

  53. A word of advice: If you work in financial services or a big multinational company and is flying with your superiors on an international flight in business or first class, watch out how you dress yourself for that flight. Just saying!!!!! 🙂

  54. I never will be embarrassed by what I am wearing. But I may wear jeans. I may wear Bermuda shorts and a polo shirt. And I always will be comfortable.

    I’m 55 and now happily retired. When I was a kid, flying was a luxury. We travel to Europe twice a year and I remember my mother always got dressed up. I don’t remember necessarily what I wore, but for a little kid, I’m sure I sure looked cute. These days, sadly, airline travel is just another mode of transportation, even in premium classes.

    I flew Concorde 43 times, always on vacation, never a business trip. I wore nice linen shorts, jeans, or a suit. I never was shown any disrespect because of what I was wearing. But once when I was 15 and in line to check in at Heathrow, an agent questioned whether I was in the right line, before I confirmed that I was on BA001.

    Tomorrow I am flying LH FRA-SFO on a paid F ticket. I’m wearing jeans, a white button-down, and topsiders. I will not feel out of place in the first class terminal nor on board. In fact, I will be in my pajamas before most of the passengers have boarded the flight.

    So long as a passenger looks nice, is wearing clean clothes, and does not even met a bad body odor, I don’t care, nor is it my business, what they wear.

  55. I totally agree with Gene:
    >If you are a paying customer and meet the airlines rules for attire, you can wear whatever you want. Peiriod.

    And Lucky, I like your shoes. Keep doing what you’re doing.

  56. They’re called “sweat pants” for a reason; they are not intended to be attire outside of a gym. And tennis shoes are for…well, you get it.

    I don’t expect to see everyone dressed like Mad Men, but dressing like one is either on a beach or inside a gym doesn’t reflect well on anyone.

    I can’t for the life of me understand why so many find “I just want to be comfortable” translates to looking like a gym rat. Perhaps one’s level of comfort in adult clothing would increase if one lost a few pounds or purchased the correct size?

  57. If I’ve or my employer has paid for a business ticket or a first ticket I will wear what the hell I want. The only people I see dress up nowadays are the upgrade seekers – dressing up to impress or get something when you’ve paid for the ticket strikes me as plain weird.

  58. @CJ @Andrew – Seriously? You have elected a clown who’s flying in Air Force One and you are complaining about Lucky’s dress etiquette in an F class. Sheeesh!!!

  59. While neat and clean and reasonably comfortable seems to make sense, I would also
    recommend that any passenger on an airplane take particular care of the materials their clothes are made of. Only clothes made of natural fibres ie, cotton, wool, silk, leather etc. should be considered as on a flight there is the ( extremely small ) chance of having to deal with fire.
    Artificial materials tend to melt and stick to the skin and can cause much more serious burns than natural fibres. Stay away from hosery or yoga pants or the like while on a flight.

  60. I think it’s far more important to dress smart casual for when you’re in the lounge before a flight. I don’t think it’s fair to better dressed or business people to be next to leisure travels in t-shirts, shorts and flip flops in that setting.

    Before leaving for a flight, I think it’s OK to change to more casual sleep attire/gym wear on the way out of a lounge to be comfortable on a flight. I only really do this if I’m in Y on the flight. In F and J, it’s fairly easy to change on the plane before or shortly after takeoff.

  61. I can see myself in suit and tie and Florsheims, and the person next to me in PJs and slippers! Translation — to each his/her own, as long as it is not “distasteful”.

    I travel mostly long-haul and need to be comfy, but I hate PJs, so I often wear shorts, a Polo shirt and sneakers in C/F…

  62. Awww, look at all the want-to-be-like-mommy&daddy-and-play-dressup precious little snowflakes: who the frack gives a s**t about how you think others should dress like. If I want to wear a torn vintage tee and a pair of shorts & open-toe sandals in First, you know what? I am going to do just that. And if I want to wear gym clothes, then you know what? Ammagonna go right ahead and do that. If your ability to derive enjoyment of an experience is solely dependent on others creating an atmosphere that you agree with, then you have serious entitlement privilege issues. Now, where are my AJs…

  63. I wore a Miley Cyrus tshirt and lulu black stretch pants on my Lufthansa first. I’m grown ass man, and I’ll do what I want! 😀

  64. Actually the last time I was in Singapore business, I was going on a backpacking trip to Japan. Sleeping on the flight gave us an entire extra day of touring.

    Everyone travels for different reasons. That’s exactly why premium cabins are not the same as a restaurant.

  65. Lay off the trainers. I started wearing trainers with suits when I had some foot problems and settled on onitsuka tigers as they had arch support that suited my feet. Two years later the foot problems are gone and I am pick suits, ties and shirts to match my shoes.

    No real rules for flying, although I like to wear a jacket because I always want an inside breast pocket for my passport, boarding cards etc. and it’s easier for screening if I can slip everything into jacket pockets in the queue.

  66. The pretentious DYKWIA who gets all bent out of shape when others aren’t dressed all super snazzy is probably that same knobber who talks far too loud on his cell phone while walking around with a Pigpen cologne cloud around him.

  67. I don’t know about the rest of you, but at least in LA the more you try to dress up or look the part of something, it becomes obvious how much more phony you are as an individual. if you’re flying Biz or First, act like you’ve been there before and just be comfortable and polite. you’re paying the money or miles to be comfortable and get to your journey refreshed. if that’s sandals and shorts, or sneakers and sweatpants, so be it. DGAF about it.

  68. I think a lot of the outrage was directed at your particularly nasty choice of shoes. Even a clean pair of black and white Nike Free Runs would be massively more tasteful.

  69. 30 or so comments before @Lucas mentioned an important point that no one else addressed. While the chance of an emergency evacuation is very small, you should always be prepared to be out on a hot slippery metal surface (the wing). And that means sturdy closed toed shoes — no sandals or flipflops – and sturdy clothing — jeans are fine but flimsy shorts may bot give you much protection down a slide.

    I think the most important aspect is to look neat in whatever you choose to wear.

    Neil

  70. The answer to this has changed over the years, and does vary regionally as others have pointed out. In the past, dressing discretely used to be the key to an op-up on overbooked long-haul flights, but now that airlines have better data systems, resulting in full premium cabins, and when there are empty seats, they go to the highest elite status or whoever has used an upgrade instrument, award ticket, or now even a ‘bid’.

    There are some side effects to dressing too casually, and so in order to avoid any stress or hassle, I err on the side of proactively eliminating friction, both by being clean and balancing my comfort with discretion. After all it’s a confined space and everyone has pet hates. On long haul flights they have 7+ hours to think about how you embody those hates.

    Just like investing in good luggage, it’s worth investing in good ‘flight clothes’. On long-haul it applies to both outbound and return flights, and on short-haul flights there’s nothing better for the night flight home, although I am often the only person not wearing a suit in a cabin.

    Here’s my ‘flight clothes’: A no-crease lightweight breathable polo shirt, smart linen trousers (mine are drawstring and can also be worn with a belt), bamboo or cotton socks, and sheepskin slippers (for long haul only). From my normal outfit, I’ll keep my silk and linen scarf/shawl and my belt (so that I still look smart). On flight days I wear a really large scarf, 25″/63cm wide, so that I can wear it as a blanket or keep draughts off my shoulders.

    The reason I ditched sweatpants and v-neck tees was twofold. Firstly, the honest truth was that it caused more hassle than it was worth. I don’t mind the whole ‘we’re not boarding economy yet’ nonsense, but the combination of being young and being casually dressed tends to really offend passengers, as well as old-school gate agents and crew. Having shared international first cabins with older people wearing only sports shorts and the kind of loose undervests that tend to burn images in, I would rather not be memorable for the wrong reasons.
    The second reason is that my travel has increased to the point where it was worth investing in lighter clothes so that I could bring one less bag.

    Rather than worrying about perception, once you are odourless (as opposed to scented heavily with an aftershave you might love but others might loathe), and discretely dressed, then nobody has a right to kick up a fuss. I do think collared shirts are worth wearing, and that sports shirts and tees (especially anything political) should just be avoided because again, why ask for hassle when you could be enjoying your own headspace.


    Here’s my tips for what it’s worth:

    Short-haul day time:
    Arrives with your jacket, shirt and pants on, your shoes loose, your belt, tie, scarf, cufflinks, etc in a plastic bag, so that you speed through fast track. Apply the details in the lounge, hydrate, make use of grooming/skincare products in duty free and arrive at the gate looking a million dollars. If you’re flying economy, keep your tie loose and your jacket off, wait until all the bags are up overhead before laying it flat in the bins on top of your bag, otherwise you have a catch 22 between a frantic latecomer crushing it to shreds with their muddy wheelie bag or the agro of trying to stop them. If the bins are full the purser may store it for you in the wardrobe, or you can fold it across lap.

    Short-haul night time:
    Take off your accessories for security, throw them in a plastic bag, you can pack them away properly in the calm of the lounge, have a shower if you can and change into your ‘flight clothes’. In case there’s no shower, travel pack of baby wipes are great for refreshing and deodorising. Bring a folded garment bag if it fits in your carry-on, that way you can hand it over when you get on board and it’ll stay perfect.

    Long Haul:

    Outbound:
    Light, discrete comfortable clothes. If you are going somewhere you can take the risk of a delayed bag, only bring critical items in your carry-on and put your shoes in a plastic bag before you check in, swapping them for slippers, which will get you through security faster and keep you more comfortable on board (plus there is no risk of them being smelly). If you have a connecting flight, regardless of whether there’s time to go to the lounge and shower between them, have a change of clothes (socks, underwear, t-shirt) in a Ziploc bag. If you’ve been delayed in security, you can be a bit smelly, and on a long flight, if someone spills wine or food on you, it can be miserable, so the spare can be a godsend, all going well, it’s lovely to be fresh for the second flight.

    If you’re coming straight from work or are on a tight connection, having an empty plastic bag in your carry on can save a lot of time so you can throw your accessories in it after security and get dressed on board. On long haul flights the bathrooms tend to be cleaned between legs. Personally, I arrive super-early for outbound long-haul flights, in part so that I can check my luggage in and avoid risk of it not makign it, and it’s nice to unwind and either work or watch planes for an hour before I board.

    Homebound:
    Shed anything you don’t need for the actual flight itself into your checked luggage.

    It’s essential to keep clean socks, underwaer and a clean t-shirt (or vest if you wear them) in a Ziploc bag, plus a roll-on non-scented deoderant. Travel-sized baby-wipes are great also. If you’ve rushed to the airport and then done an hour and a bit in two separate security queues in a three-piece suit, you’re going to stink, and if you are delayed to the point that you can’t shower in the lounge, then you’ll be so much happier knowing you have that little bag of safety that you can change into on board, plus, I’d rather sit next to a clean person in a t-shirt than a gross person in a beautiful suit. Also, Definitely get into your slippers even if you’re in a hurry, as you’ll have to take your shoes off anyway in most airports for security and you’ll be more comfortable.

    As Lucky said though, the most luxurious airlines give pyjamas and slippers anyway, so if you’re fortunate enough to be travelling on one of them, then you can ignore all of my advice. 🙂

  71. I think we should mandate black tie for all flights . Seriously though, dress whatever makes you comfortable or what you need to be in when you land. If I have a meeting the second I land somewhere I am in my suit. If I am on vacation, I will never ever wear a suit or dress up. When I go overseas for business I always ensure I have enough time to change when I land. If people want to judge my jeans, tshirt, and sneakers on my 16 hours flight that’s their right. Just know I know I am WAY more comfortable than you.

  72. Who says being dressed nicely has to be uncomfortable? I get tired of seeing hairy legs and gnarly feet on planes. You’re not going to a car wash and be at least neat, tidy and covered up.

  73. True dress codes went by the wayside a long time ago. However, less than 20 years ago, many airlines still had strict dress code policies for their own employees, as well as employees of other airlines, who traveled using the airline flight benefits. Lufthansa even had a specially printed ticket jacket for airline industry travelers: in the premium cabins, men were required to wear jacket and tie, women required to wear skirts, pantyhose and dress shoes. I remember wording to the effect of “When traveling in first or business class, staff should dress as a paying first or business class traveler would.” LOL now!

    When I worked at Delta, we were also required to wear suit and tie to travel in premium cabins. You could always tell the airline employees traveling to Hawaii: they were the only ones on the plane in suits! An American Airlines friend was kicked off Malaysian Airlines for not wearing a tie (he had a jacket, dress shirt and slacks, but no tie). He didn’t raise a fuss at all. He totally understood he was in violation of the dress code. These policies began to quickly change in the late 90’s, but really not that long ago!

  74. I got a dress for success book for college graduation in the nineties. It basically said that casual Friday was worse than the regular working day because that is when it was more obvious to discover social class. Hint: your leisure attire will give you away.. So…. If you aren’t wealthy, then you’d be better off dressing up for 1st. By the way, Asics rule. I got my 1st pair in 1990 when I joined the track team. You can’t beat them.

  75. If you’re uncomfortable when you dress nicely, then you’re buying cheap (polyester?) clothes. Buy better-made clothing: it’s amazing how comfortable a pair of well-made natural fibers slacks and a jacket are.

    Yes, there is a line. By not wearing cut-offs and A-shirts in F, you are doing a form of “dressing up”. You’re just drawing the line way too low, one where most cultures look down upon (and which may explain some of the service issues you encounter).

    People are social animals, and dress is an evolutionary shortcut to forming a first opinion on someone (unless you’re a recognizable A-lister, then wearing cut-offs and A-shirt won’t make a difference). No amount of armwaving will change that.

    A wise Italian once told me “you can judge a person by the shoes he or she wears” and, amazingly, it works VERY well. You should try it.

  76. Unless I am going straight to a work meeting, I never dress up for an airplane ride (regardless of class I am flying). I am never treated any differently when sitting in First.

  77. I completely disagree with Ben in terms of Premium Class dresscode. In particular, his article does not address the lounge visit prior to the Premium Class flight. Even if pajamas are provided onboard, they are intended to be worn while sleeping and should not be used as an excuse for sloppy attire. Fine dining, deluxe wine/champagne and top-notch service, whether in a high-end restaurant, First Class Lounge or onboard an aircraft, should be paralleled by a proper dresscode. In my opinion, that’s part of mutual respect of crew / service staff and customer. My own rules for both business and private flights: Shirts and black trousers in all cabins. Business Class and Business Class Lounge: long-sleeved shirts. Long haul First Class or First Class Lounge: Suit and dress shoes or at least shirt + tie and dress shoes. After dining it’s fine to change into the pajama.

  78. I was on QR F last Saturday night. Me and one other guy. DOH-BKK. The other passenger boarded and pretty much right away took off all his clothes to his boxers. Sat that way the whole flight. Flight attendants didn’t care. Lucky’s sneakers are fine in comparison

  79. More often than not I end up wearing a dress shirt/dress pants/dress shoes in F/J, but it’s really just a function of heading straight from the office or client to the airport and don’t have time to change. Frankly I couldn’t care less what someone wears, as long as their clothes are clean. When I do have time to change, I’love usually go with a polo shirt and jeans. I prefer Crocs over sneakers, mainly because they’re easier to slip on and off. But I think sneakers are fine, as long as they aren’t dirty.

  80. Anyone who demands you dress particularly smartly outside a work environment (or, perhaps, a wedding) is a snob. Period. You may be proud of being a snob, but it’s a hideously ugly character trait so I have absolutely no qualms upsetting your sensibilities with my dressing habits.

  81. Totally agree. I fly F or C because I want to travel comfortably, so I dress comfortably. Besides, I pay for my tickets so I decide what comfortable is. Heading for another GA F flight soon, and I surely will not be in suit.

  82. Real first class passengers won’t be thinking about questions as to dress code, although it may produce a nicer photo (assuming the attendant takes good photos, which isn’t commonly the case!)

  83. As Paul Fussell noted in his 1983 book “Class,” anyone who feels the need to dress up to fly is decidedly middle class.

  84. I resent the business suit 1960 arguement in reaction to my belief in dressing properly in business or first. While we are past the suit tie and dresses we should have some self respect. Put on clean jeans and shoes and a shirt at least. Anyone in sweats or looking like it’s Saturday at Walmart lacks class

  85. One thing that hasn’t been mentioned is your destination. Take for instance a flight in J to Bora Bora for your honeymoon. I mean, you’re really going to wear a suit to Bora Bora when it’s just an extra thing to carry during your trip that you’re never going to wear otherwise?

  86. Well, I guess it all comes down how you dress in real life. But there are too many changes in business attire within the last few years.

    20 years ago you would definitely show up in a suit or at least war a jacket while boarding elevated booking classes on a commercial plane. Not to talk about private jets. And you were treated differently. I remember people receiving HON at Lufthansa not for their mileage but for their overall economical status and attire.

    I boarded a first class flight with BA from NYC to London last year. All men, all above their 50, all in pinstripe suit. Most of them were personally welcomed by the stewardesses (who were probably the same age). Most of them were in their pyjamas after half an hour and received their custom drinks without asking. So there was a tight community of bankers and big corporate C-level taking that flight regularly. How did I feel with my jeans and business shirt, just taking a connecting flight from a Las Vegas tech conference? A little bit awkward, but in my world you do not wear suits anymore.

    In contrast, two weeks ago I had the top management from Uber (including the founder) rushing to the gate in SF and boarding a flight to Frankfurt. Old jeans, unpressed grey shirts. So there are a few billions of net worth boarding a plane and the gate personnel was less than friendly. I had to smile, had they known? Do they even care?

    I personally do not care if people show up in a sports suit. And I understand if you fly for business reasons hundred thousand miles a year and more you need to focus on convenience, functionality, even health. But I admit I still admire people with manners that dress just right and show that travelling can be a privilege as well. Same for me: Travelling for business reason I keep my clear flight itinerary and I focus on food and sleep to avoid jet lags. But travelling with my family we take much more care about how we travel and where we stay.

  87. Wow, so many angry people flying in premium class. How sad.

    They generally are either:
    A. I make lots of money so I am entitled to do whatever I want to do. I am rich, so FU loser!
    I have no idea why rich people who can afford to pay to fly premium class would read and comment on blogs like this. If I was so rich that paying for premium class was no big deal I wouldn’t read, let alone comment on blogs like this.
    B. I am an entitled American and can do whatever I want to do. How dare anyone question what I choose to wear!

    I personally agree with the comment by one of the posters who wrote: “Airlines give you pajamas so you don’t have to sleep in your nice clothes. Of course you should “dress the part” in first.”

    When flying premium class I always dress in nice jeans with a crisp casual button down shirt and wear casual shoes. If I am given pajamas then I change into them and wear their slippers. More important than how I dress is that I am always friendly and courteous to the crew.

  88. Totally agree with Lucky, dress decently but comfortably. I’m surprised that there are so many insecure travelers, who think they need a dress up costume to fit in.
    Richard.

  89. Totally agree with Lucky, dress decently but comfortably. I’m surprised that there are so many insecure travelers, who think they need a dress up costume to fit in.
    Richard.

  90. Personally I worry more about how people behave rather than how they dress. I’m pretty sure that cabin crew feel the same way. I generally wear jeans and polo shirts when travelling but I wouldn’t bat an eyelid if I saw someone in shorts and T-shirt as long as they are decent people.

    What I don’t like are people who feel the need to eat and drink like there is no tomorrow and are never off the service button. I find that pretty crass.

  91. I usually wear jeans and a tshirt, maybe a collared shirt. I like to find the space between dressing down or dressing up. I agree with folks who dress better. If you want to be a slob, fine. Just don’t be surprised when people treat you like one.

  92. People should be judged by the way they behave not by the way they dress.
    Sadly there is so many travelers who think the opposite and try to make a memorable moment into a miserable moment to themself.

  93. Phil – There is NOTHING, and I mean NOTHING, “disrespectful” about wearing sweats.

    Lacking class maybe, but as class makes people into disgustingly judgemental insufferable bores such as yourself, that’s no bad thing.

    I cannot emphasise enough how pathetic the many people on here who feel that people need to be judged and mocked based on their clothing are. It’s striking that not a single valid reason can be given for why it’s so important.

  94. People seem to dress better in Business than First. In Business they are usually people actually on business and, as such, they need to always look decent. They might be being met at the airport for instance. And more generally they are a more consistent bunch than those in either economy or First.

    First is really a mixed bag. You have the super rich and royalty, and frankly nobody tells them what to do. I’ve been in F with Pete Townsend and a Rolling Stone etc., and they looked the way you’d expect them to look. Likewise African and Aran royal families who dress the part.

    Then we have what are mostly the folks here, flying F on miles, or an upgrade, or a discounted fare. Honestly I think they should dress up a bit, because they are upgrading their lifestyle and should upgrade their appearance as well.

    And if I do pay up to fly in F, I don’t want my fellow passengers to look like they are on a SouthWest flight from Oakland to Vegas.

  95. You should travel in whatever you will comfortable in during the flight and prior and after arrival of your flight. However you should take into consideration trying to dress reasonably and not go overboard.
    I would go with a Polo Teeshirt, Jeans and a pair of sneakers or simple shoes without laces to avoid any problems going through airport security. Try avoid using a belt or just keep it in your carry on bag until your through security

  96. Having some a number of comments on frequent flyer forums about “appropriate attire” for lounges and onboard it’s nice to see an article from a well traveled man which pretty expresses my views. I dress for comfort on flights and dress pretty much the same as I do in everyday life (outside work) which is shorts or long cargo pants (not camo) and tshirt along with sneakers. Wouldn’t matter what class I’m flying I dress the same.

  97. I’m pretty sure my sweatpants and sneakers are cleaner and more presentable than the pretentious and judgemental comments of those who patronize others.

  98. the clothes don’t make the man, it’s the man that makes the clothes.

    Stick with that and you’ll go through life as undouchey as possible.

    Cheers b*thces.

  99. Wear what you like, its not anyone’s business.
    However, there are two factors here,

    1. Formality of attire:

    A suit is far too uncomfortable for a flight.
    Polo/Long sleeve T shirt and jeans not so much.
    Tracksuit is just stretching it. If you need to be that comfy I’d pack a change of clothes.
    As I said its your business what you wear, not other people’s, but I would’t wear a tracksuit and trainers outside a gym.
    That’s because I’m European and I’d feel embarrassed wearing that out, not because of what others think.

    2. Quality/Brand

    Tom Ford/Berluti/Whatever also make trainers. If they’re dressed up and worn with a good clothes you will look nice and feel presentable.

    I would never wear a suit on a flight, that’s ridiculous. Tell those who want to wear suits to change to Morning Coat and Top hat, with nothing less than bow tie and striped trousers for their flight. A suit is just so wrong in such a situation you know…..

    I would however wear some Italian jeans a polo and loafers.

    It’s not about pleasing others around you, its about pleasing yourself.

    Oh, and when you change in to pyjamas, a) your suite door/ curtain (AF) is probably closed b) you’re probably are sleeping under a blanket.

  100. I think it’s more of a CULTURAL thing. Americans tend to wear oversized hoodies, sweatpants, & sneakers when they fly, and europeans/south americans/everyone else usually dress up very nicely to fly. I think you should dress well to fly, and take advantage of the pyjamas airlines give to change in and be comfortable. But for the airport/boarding, dress nice. Why not?

  101. Im inundated with disgust and pitty when a lowly dressed citizen doesn’t bring his cigars and pocket watch aboard the aircraft

  102. I usually wear a nice pair of golf shorts, a short-sleeve casual button-down, and slip-on shoes of some sort. In terms of feeling “under-dressed”, to me it’s more a matter of hitting the minimum for the airline lounge, not the plane itself.

    If it’s a flight where I’m going to be sleeping for 7+ hours (or at least trying to), I’ll bring a pair of drawstring cotton pants and a t-shirt (unless I know I’ll be getting nice pajamas from the airline.)

    I don’t really dress differently for first, business, or economy, unless it’a short flight in economy in the summer or intra-Florida, then it’s gym shorts and a t-shirt.

  103. There is definitely no need to dress smart on a paid J/F ticket. I grew up flying J on staff family tickets and was told it was a requirement to dress nicely for the cabin you are flying in, otherwise, the check-in/gate staff could refuse boarding or downgrade you. I happily obliged and dressed the part.

    As I grew older and entered my 20s and started paying for my own J/F tickets. It made a lot more sense to wear comfortable shoes and trousers to walk through airports and be on a seat for 10+ hours. Suits on a plane are overkill, uncomfortable and just get wrinkled when you arrive at your destination. Tracksuits aren’t really my jam. Having said that, the only time I wore tracksuit bottoms to fly Etihad F, I was asked whether I was a professional soccer player, so maybe I need to do that more often ;).

    I fully agree with Ben’s view on the “older days”. Flying used to be going to a fancy social club where you would look the part because it was a high-class activity. Nowadays, your J/F seat is basically your living room, dining room, TV room and personal bar, and in how many of those rooms do you wear a suit?

  104. I feel sorry for those people who have nothing more to think about than how to dress first or any class on a plane. As long as your clothes are clean and comfortable they are fine. I travel first class between continents. You do not stay in those pajamas all day and night. BE COMFORTABLE. People who have only other’s clothing to worry about nèed to go volunteer in a shelter or food bank.

  105. Sneakers are just tacky. I only wear them At the gym, or otherwise exercising. There are plenty of casual shoe choices that are not sneakers.

  106. that green sneaker looks absolutely disgusting and make me sick. For a better picture quality, time to invest a better sneaker

  107. I think first class is not that special anymore after you’ve done it a couple of times. My first LH First was a longe upgrade on an oversold flight on Christmas and I was a lowly MM Silver. I was in my early 20s and that was a big deal. Since then I’ve done a dozen of LH F flights as well as CX, SQ, EY, JL, NH, QR, UA, TG. First class is not that special any more. It’s just a nicer way to fly. It doesn’t own me, I just use it. In a few days I’ll be boarding QR BKK-DOH followed by AUH-LHR both in F on A380. I will look like a German backpacker who spent two months traveling through Thailand. Solid tan and a bit shaggy (no I will not get a haircut in AUH). I have a clean buttondown shirt (because that’s what I wear for casual relaxed), jeans, and hiking shoes covered with red dust from Angkor Wat.
    Most importantly I’ll act kind and respectful to the staff. I will be humble and understated.
    And if anyone gives me a dirty look about anything, I will give them “I’m 40, retired, and flying F on vacation” look back.

    Class is very important in First Class. But what really gives you away is not what you wear but the fact that you are insecure, treating staff like your servants, and constantly looking around the cabin checking all the other pax and judging them based on their looks.

    Oh yeah, and if you need to taste Krug to decide if you want it or not or if you never heard of Salon you are clearly a newbie losing your F virginity… don’t be anxious and just enjoy the flight.

  108. As a society, we have become more casual. The days of suits and ties, dresses and furs while traveling are long gone. Jeans are the new khakis and sweats are the new jeans. Personally, I find someone dressed in jeans, a blazer, and plain white sneakers very stylish. Look at most fashion designers, that seems to be their uniform.

    Also, sweats today are not the old “bum around the house” types of yesteryear. I have found many fashionable sweats in an array of materials and designs, mostly tailored and even shown with suit jackets in major department stores. I’ve worn tailored sweats in jersey fabric, paired with a blazer and loafers while seated in premium cabins and have actually been complimented by the flight attendants on how stylish and groomed I looked.

    Though I do not recommend wearing cutoffs and and tank tops, I feel one can look hip, stylish, and chic in properly made athletic wear. And remember, it’s not what one wears that makes them first class, it’s how they present themselves and treat others that raise that bar.

  109. I’ve heard the following announcement on a BA flight some years ago: please respect the integrity of the class system and use the lavatory in your ticketed cabin.
    The airplane is very clearly segregated into classes. First time coach flyers boarding through the second door and walking through business thinking that’s where they will sit just a few rows back, J passengers bitterly disappointed that they didn’t get an upgrade to F, and of course the F pax who should be in charge of the priority boarding process considering how zealously they glance at BPs of fellow travellers prior to boarding and inching closer to the scanner because they are on the top of the food chain.
    Most are very conscious of their social standing in the cabin for the duration of the flight.
    And then there are those who don’t care…

  110. I’m pretty disgusted at the person(s) above who boast about wearing a hoodie and sweats or open toed flip flops in F class or at 5 star hotels.

    Nobody is saying you should wear a suit, but can we draw the line at sweat pants, track pants, shirts or flip flops? I don’t mind Lucky’s sneakers if he was nicely dressed and presentable.

    Most people in the world will never be able to enjoy the experience the privilege to fly F or J, respect the privilege you’ve been given to be one of those rare fortunate people and show it the class it deserves.

    And aren’t the pyjamas on the flight meant for nighttime when the lights are dimmed anyway? Remember, your travel includes sitting in the lounge, pre flight drink and daytime travel so the pyjama argument doesn’t mean wear pyjamas all day.

  111. Lucky,
    I completely agree with you regarding attire in F/C, ” Appropriate and Clean.” I dress based on destination and weather and I also take advantage of changing into inflight pajamas. More often than not, I wear Jeans, Button Down and a Blazer if I will need one during the trip.

  112. My 2 cents: When I’m in First or Biz, I see people dressed casually, but you can tell that their casual outfit cost a fortune. Gucci or Prada sneakers, Luxury carry ons from Louis Vuitton, Gucci, MCM, etc., expensive jeans from Gucci or a French Designer, Luxury designer T-shirt that cost $300 or a polo shirt that costs even more, an expensive jacket or coat from a top designer and lots of gold jewelry, either tasteful or gaudy. And then you see the business guys or gals that are there b/c of points or upgrades and they dress like business people on a casual friday in the office. But basically, it doesn’t matter anymore. With so many people upgraded b/c of points or upgrades, it’s not exclusive to the rich anymore. You might get a snobby rich person look at your casual friday outfit and snicker, but not much and not really anymore. No one cares, even the flight attendants don’t notice. Unless, that is, if you smell bad.or look like a homeless person.

  113. I never really thought about what I wear on a plane. I suggest you all do the same. Life’s too short to brag about how you travel, which seats you have, etc. Just enjoy the trip and hope you get there and come back safe.

  114. Well I flew Garuda in F CGK-AMS, on nothing more than shorts, flip flops and a short sleeve shirt 😀

    Although I had my reasons, managed to end up in a motorcycle accident during a little trip to Bali, and the wounds on my foot and leg just couldn’t handle long pants and shoes. But if not for medical reasons, you can expect me to board “casual business” or whatever it’s called. Comfy shirt and a blazer before putting on my pajamas.

  115. I fly international biz/first about twice a year. I always dress for comfort as I’ll usually be on the plane for 10+ hours (not counting the time before and after the flight itself!). If I needed to dress to impress, I would. But this is a flight where I’m just trying to get from point A to point B in the most comfortable means possible. I’d show up in a hoodie and sweats if I felt that would be the most comfortable for the trip — its not anyone else’s business (and I’m surprised so many people even care!). Unless people are half naked, or dressed in a tux/gown, I probably wouldn’t notice/remember.

  116. As mynvery proper grandmother used to say, the difference between old money and the rest of us isn’t what we look like dressed up; it’s what we look like when we’re relaxed.

    And on that note, I prioritize comfort over style when traveling. That said, my comfortable relaxing clothes are still stylish, they’re just more comfortable than stylish.

    And know that if you’re really dressing up for Biz or F, the Hollywood A-listers you’re imagining yourself akin with are wearing yoga pants and hoodies.

  117. I dont get the “dressing up” part either – and I think “dressing up improves UG/Opup chances” is a mystery. For long haul economy flts, sweatpants and a polo/t-shirt/sweater + sneakers can make such a huge difference as opposed to Jeans/Slacks, Shirt + Dress shoes, especially when you are a “passenger of size” (read: fat) guy like me. I usually change in the Lounge prior to departure and then change on board before arrival into something more civilised.
    When travelling in business, I’ll usually change on board – except if it is a short (say east coast TATL) flight or I want to go to sleep straight away. Never been in F yet, but would do the same as the pyjamas might not fit me anyway 😛

  118. Wow, I am a bit surprised that this topic is so controversially discussed.

    I personally take a relatively pragmatic approach towards this. While I think F class, and actually even Y, are not the best place for hoodies and track suits, “dressing up” in any way is definitely unnecessary. Business casual, even nice jeans and a polo shirt, just dress properly. However, I think in general this is rather a question of attitude and style than only related to flying.

    As long as someone’s attire is no disturbance to other passengers, I am not saying that one does not have the right to fly in his favorite super comfy track suit. I just personally like to dress in a nice way when in public in general.

    It is clear that we do have commitments before and after the flight that may not allow us to always choose the most appropriate dress.

  119. @ lucky
    “50 years ago airplanes weren’t sleeping quarters, but rather they were restaurants, social clubs, and cigar bars.”
    while this may have been true, considering that several decades ago few airliners had a range that exceeded eight hours (with the exception of the B747SP), sleeping quarters were not considered a marketing necessity, just food, beverage and movies.
    As many of your readers pointed out, clean, neat and pressed clothing does not go out of style. As a US Marine once told me, “better dead than look bad.”

  120. Wow, comments section under this post is showing really not the best side of OMAAT’s readership.

    Personally couldn’t feel less “obliged” to wear a shirt, leather shoes or anything similar when flying F/J. The general rule – completely agree with Ben – is not to be disturbing to anybody smelling bad etc.
    Also who would choose what is proper and what is not on a plane? Classic is good? High fashion is good or wrong? What, if high fashion looks like Vetements, then probably wrong?
    What about sneakers, Y3 and Raf Simons is good, Asics is wrong?

    That is hilarious and as long as you don’t do any harm to anybody – suggest to mind your own business and don’t overthink that.

    Ben, keep on flying in Asics. Guys in suites – keep doing that as well. Just don’t tell the rest of us what we should do. If this is problematic for you, then we wouldn’t be a good travel companions anyway.

  121. Dress however the hell you want to. We need to stop worrying about other people and spend a bit more time worrying about ourselves. You pay for the ticket, you travel on it however you want. I wont’ judge, although apparently some people on here will.

  122. I don’t care what other people are wearing, unless it’s actually offensive to the senses. I try to operate in a happy medium ground—I tend to dress how I would normally dress (casual-dressy) on the way to the airport and while boarding, and then after boarding or at least before going to bed on a long-haul flight, I’ll change into sweats/shorts and a t-shirt. There’s usually more than enough space in the bathrooms in J to change, and I also find that it helps me transition mentally into “relaxation” mode.

  123. It is all about manners and being respectful in First Class. Dress sense usually goes along with those values. If it looks right it usually is. You will never change people who have tacky taste in clothes or foot wear though. Usually those who are dressed up for gym will get the message sooner or later that the FC cabin is not the gym or a Californian beach. There again many of us know someone who is supposedly well bred from a rich background who has the most appalling manners and dress sense. Bottom line. A person who looks clean and well presented gets my vote anytime. That is my sixpenneth. To counter some comments earlier to the effect that if you can afford to pay flying FC then you should dress as you please. I suggest there is convention. Airlines serve many cultures and customs. They all come together on board. I am not a prude and like to see people with great legs. But please a woman wearing the skimpiest of shorts is not appropriate when you know that many other women who dress more conservatively, especially the older generation, are utterly appalled at such a sight. Also, bare flesh on a seat = unhygienic.

  124. There is also a North American vs Europe difference in mentality. Having lived and worked in both and being half french half american it’s clear what the priorities are culturally. Moving back to the US from France, I was shocked at the number of people wearing pyjamas basically when going grocery shopping.

    I do think since people have paid for the product they should be allowed to wear what they want for as long as it doesn’t smell. I personally make sure i’m well kept when I fly solely because I never know who else might be on the flight (see:clients) or people i may start talking to which then ends up leading to work topics.

    But Lucky you can do better than those sneakers i’m sure 🙂

  125. When travelling I like to be dressed up well.
    In the European country where I live, in these times many people do not make longer a difference in being dressed according to the situation: for ex. in summer some people go shopping in a city dressed as for the beach; some go to a wedding in workingcloths!
    Being dressed according the situation is a sign of respect for the other person(s), when flying for the crew: they are top dressed (cf. Singapore Airlines).
    As I like to wear ties, most of time I travel with jacket or in suit (short flights), or for longer flies with tie and knitted jacket. Sometimes I feel as a little oldfashioned man or as an ET, but it’s me, it’s my education.
    When looking around, it’s also nice to see well dressed man and woman.

  126. Who cares how people dress if they paid for it, as long as they do not dress like beachgoers or exhibitionists. Thats a common sensed question of courtesy towards other people, as we are not in our own four walls! Apart from this, especially on longhaul flights, what is most important is to be comfortable. Even if in F or C class, we will not be sleeping in our own bed, even if its the best F class bedding or the best C class lie flat seat. Then come the cabin temperatures, the walking distances etc….so basically, feel comfortable, thats what counts. Most full fare passengers dress very casual anyway. We will also get to appreciate comfortable clothing, when we have been wearing suits on planes, especially on those inter European flights….first flight out, last flight back……and this in a suit….what a nightmare….and this regardless of the seat!

  127. What interesting responses,
    As someone that gets to fly up the front every few weeks, I see it now as a form of getting from place A to place B. Sure the first time I flew first class I was all excited, I think i even may of worn a tie, however I remember getting on board and there were 3 other first passengers and I was so over dressed I was looked more like the staff.
    These days I fly mainly Etihad or Singapore, and I can assure you that you can wear t shirts and sneakers if you choose to, I myself wear casual pants and a polo with a light wool jumper..and yes I change into the PJ’s as soon as I can in first, Out of all the flying I do I rate the apartments in Etihad the best overall experience, with Singapore a close second ( they actually have a better drinks offering in first IMO)
    at the end of the day, if you are flying in first or business wear what you like, as long as it is clean, if you are in economy and want to believe that wearing a suit will get you upgraded, go ahead and do that as well…personally I think that is a myth, as I have been on various flights were the first class cabin was pretty much empty, the last was a few weeks ago, Etihad Melb – Abu on the A380 – there were 3 of us out of the 9 available, noone was in the Residence and I tried my very best to ask to be allowed in there, was told very politely..but firmly no…other than I could have a look, which i have done a few times before…Side note.. The residence is awesome….one day I will do it.

  128. Hi me and the wife ate traveling from England to New York, we have been a few times but this Is the first time I have booked us first class. Now the problem is she likes to wear jogging bottoms and polo shirt with trainers and myself I’m just wearing polo shirt, clean jeans and trainers. The queries I have will they allow us on dressed like that or is there a dress code on what you have to wear. Just want to be comfy on the journey.

  129. Hardeep Sanghera,

    If you have class to travel first class, the way to do it is to wear smart casual until on board and then change into comfortable clothing. If my interpretation of jogging bottoms is that they are super short clinging to the wife’s cheeks then absolutely no – in any class. You are not jogging across the Atlantic, you are in an aircraft. I would object and speak to the crew. Your mere suggestion of what you consider ‘comfy’ is troubling.

  130. Harddeep,

    I’d suggest high-end athletic clothing, if you can afford it. The stretch and freedom of movement makes traveling so much nicer. Far more important, when trying to show class, is to actually be classy. You might be flying first class, but acknowledging servers by making eye contact, smiling, and giving a thoughtful please or thank you works wonders. If someone goes truly out of their way for you, tipping is often appreciated, depending on the culture.

    Basically don’t try to look classy, that’s about you. Try to be classy, that’s about how you treat others.

  131. I didn’t say tipping the crew. But certainly limo drivers or servers or sky cap type people are commonly tipped in the US.

  132. You are free to dress like a slob and I am free to treat you like one. Fair is fair. I am a Flight Attendant. If you want good service, show us respect: please bathe, brush your teeth and wear something respectable; Gentlemen, in particular, please wear chinos – a perfect travel pant that is not slovenly and which you can sleep in easily. And Gentlemen, please wear socks with your shoes and keep your shoes/socks on. This country was built up in the superpower it used to be by Men in scratchy wool…what’s your excuse Mr. Muscle Tee in Addidas slides? In addition to not wanting to look at your hideous feet which you falsely assume to be attractive, you are risking having your foot injured by passengers, crew and drink carts. Quite frankly, bare feet should be banned for injury/legal reasons and am shocked it is otherwise. I cannot tell you how many people get their nasty little toes injured.. As a Pro I can affirm one person can fill an entire cabin with stink. Keep your shoes on. You are adults. You should be able to travel for 5 hours with your shoes on. You are not children. The problem with air travel today is largely the passenger and their child-like sense of entitlement to behave like a bratty thirteen-year-old in their bedroom being overly attended to by Mommy. And parents – I am not your babysitter, so please stop making your fellow passengers treat me like I am. It is not my job to quiet your child. You are the parent and I am not your Nanny and neither are the Passengers.

  133. Due to my profession (Security), I always fly J/F on transatlantic flights. I do wear a suit which immediately comes off upon boarding and my “carry-on” jogging suit comes on until “Top of Drop” at which time I collect my business attire from the FA. I flight comfortable and still preserve my professional appearance for an airport counterpart meeting. I do not care what others wear but I assure you, I am treated differently while dressed up at the counter, the lounge and at the gate. On leisure trips, I too wear Dockers and polo shirts. In my opinion, there is no “Dressing The Part” in First Class. The plane is just a mode of transportation. The part is played at the origin or destination on the ground.

  134. Frank your basic premis is correct. But while an aircraft is just a mode of transportation, there are rules and accepted practices. I do care what others wear outside the aircraft and inside when on a First Class ticket. I take the viewpoint why should I have to put up with people who show their ignorance to the norms of decency. Anyone from big business and the diplomatic corps will know what I am referring to. It is also called taking care of my personal space. I do not pay premium to get trash passengers with the manners and decency of pigs close to me. I am not going to be politically correct just because others think they can do what they like. It is often these same kinds of indolent passengers who do treat the cabin staff with respect. It is heartening to see more and more incidents published of passengers displaying trashy behaviour to cabin crew being handed over to the police on landing. So, you can imagine how thrilled I am to know that all the airlines are now discussing have air marshals on all international flights – for “security”, that all embracing word.

  135. error in my message.. July 9 9.49pm

    It should read:
    It is often these same kinds of indolent passengers who do NOT treat the cabin staff with respect.

  136. I am flying FC and I do not care what others wear as long as all their private parts are covered and they have no offensive odors or habits. Like clipping toenails or picking their nose or scratching their crotch. And yes, I have encountered all of this in coach which is why I choose to fly FC now. I wear jeans and white sneakers (converse style) for comfort because I have to walk in the airport for connecting flights or for long layovers. Someone else telling me what I should wear is arrogant and crossing boundaries. I live in the desert with scorpions, snakes and other creatures I do not want biting me so my everyday attire is normally jeans, boots and long sleeves. I treat everyone with respect and leave my fellow FC passengers alone. If the snubs and snobs do not like us jean and sneaker wearers, then maybe they need to charter their own jet!

  137. I also forgot to add that I paid for my FC ticket with hard earned cash of my own…not miles, not perks, just hard earned cash…I have every right in FC as any other FC passenger…no one is any better than me, nor do they deserve any more than me…they are a FC passenger in a FC seat just like me!

  138. Dear Lucy… No one is claiming to be superior to you. The way you pay for your ticket is your business. I recommend however you be mindful to heed what comments are made in this thread by cabin staff themselves. I hope for your sake your attitude and dress code are in keeping with those comments. And by the way, you are not alone living in an environment of scorpions, snakes and other dangerous creatures. My dress code fits that environment at that time. That is not how I need to be kitted out to fly. Are you hinting that a F/C cabin is full of such two-legged creatures? My oh my, what a chip on the shoulder.

  139. Quite funny reading the snobby comments here. You can tell the majority are folks trying to one up each other on who has flown more in F than J (or whatever the codes are). It’s also concerning to see people whos whole life revolves around one up manship on carrier, points, status, flight class and attire! Get a life.
    Having flown many long and short haul legs in multiple classes, I came to the conclusion that I will wear what I want to wear. I am going from A to B and possibly C. I want to be comfy. I have paid for this ticket. If I am allowed aboard, all is fine.
    TBH I had never even considered it an issue. But, I will definitely continue to wear chino shorts and flip flops when I fly!! Especially now I know it p**ses snobby folks off!

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