How To Dress Appropriately For Flying

How To Dress Appropriately For Flying

United Airlines made headlines around the world today after a gate agent refused to board two young girls on a flight to Minneapolis because they were wearing leggings. The choice of attire was deemed “improper” for United representatives, even though both passengers were children.

Despite almost universal condemnation and boycott threats from celebrities, United is sticking to its guns and refuses to admit any wrongdoing. While we won’t defend its draconian and sexist policy, the airline does have one thing right – leggings are a pretty terrible choice for an aeroplane. Here’s what to wear instead.

We think the above tweet is a pretty piss-poor justification for embarrassing and shaming your employees’ children over their choice to wear leggings. On the other hand, there are plenty of other clothing options that won’t piss off the airline and will actually serve you better at your place of arrival.

This guide from Oyster runs down a few examples of light, airport and plane-friendly clothes to wear whether you’re travelling from warm to cool climates, vice versa or even across similarly warm and cool spots – but still want to dress “appropriately” for travel.

Oyster offers these suggestions for each type of transition:

  • Cold weather to hot: Layers are critical, and start with whatever you’d like to wear when you arrive and build on top of that. A lightweight base is essential, and you can layer on top clothes that are easy to peel off and stuff in a carry-all when you arrive at your destination.
  • Hot weather to cold: Layers are key here as well, but in the opposite order. Start off with base layers you’ll feel comfortable with in the airport, and then toss a few super-light things like thin sweatshirts, arm or leg warmers, sweaters and scarves in your carry-on bag if you have space. That way you’ll be comfortable in your departure airport, comfortable on the flight and can layer up as you acclimate to the temperature at your destination.
  • Cold weather to cold: Wearing a huge down-filled parka to the airport may make sense if you’re comfortable taking it off to get through security, and wearing it while you’re on the plane or stuffing it in the overhead (which your fellow passengers may not care for), but a lightweight coat made of wool or fleece is a much better option. They even suggest packing a fleece or wool poncho in your carry-on that you can pull out quickly if it gets super cold, kind of like a light, personal travel blanket.
  • Hot weather to hot: This is probably the simplest scenario to handle, since you don’t want to pack too much, or wear too much to the airport or on the flight. However, a thin, lightweight scarf may be just enough to keep a chilly aeroplane from getting you down until you land and walk out of the plane to that blast of hot air.

The full guide at Oyster actually has specific clothing recommendations, so you can head over there for more specific suggestions, but the gist is to stay light, stay comfortable and stay layered.

Expert Tips on What to Wear on a Plane, Customised to Your Origin and Destination [Oyster]


  • Also factor in the flight. Long haul, especially at night, typically means a cold plane.

    You’ll get access to your bags at both ends. So changing (in the toilets if needs be) prior to leaving or on arrival is worth thinking about to get a more comfortable time while in the air.

  • United are perfectly entitled to have a dress code for any employees or their families travelling as part of a corporate travel plan. It is the responsibility of the employee parents to ensure their children are dressed IAW with the dress code.

    • As I said in another thread, they also need to be aware that they are being judged on their actions. United could, and should, have handled this far better than they did.

      It doesnt matter how right they are if all the public sees are a couple of kids being denied entry to the plane, and all you get told is “leggings are bad, m’kay”. That comes across as fashion police, not corporate policy, and if they were on an employee pass (which came out in their second or third attempt to justify it), you’d expect there would have been a location fairly close where they could have handled it more discretely.

      I have no problem with the corporate dress code rule, but I do have a problem when its interpreted or handled badly. The whole intent is so it doesnt reflect badly on the company, and thats exactly whats happened here.

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