How To Courteously Remove Your Shoes On An Aeroplane

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On the topic of how “at home” you can make yourself on an aeroplane, there are many questions. Some have easy answers. Can you wear yoga pants? By all means. Can you scarf down your leftover barbecue ribs smothered in hickory-smoke sauce? Let’s not. Whether you can slip off your shoes, however, remains a complex issue. There are many travellers who are staunchly in the “never” camp and I can understand why. We’ve all seen the photos and videos on social media of rogue legs and feet poking out of bounds onto armrests and (oh, Lord) fellow passengers. This week, we were treated to this lovely visual.

Come on, people.

It’s certainly best to keep your footwear on — not just because trespassing phalanges should be considered a crime, but for your own sake as well. Aeroplanes, as flight attendants will tell you, are filthy vessels. (To be fully grossed out, read through this classic Reddit thread of disturbing aeroplane secrets.)

The floors, seat and tray table in front of you — all filled with germs. You do not want your feet — especially your bare soles — touching whatever sticky substance the last person in seat 17E left behind. Also, in the event of an emergency, you may need to quickly move through the plane, which could be speckled with sharp pieces of metal. Shoes will help you do that.

Of course, despite all of this, you might still decide to take off your shoes. Maybe your feet are swollen. (This commonly happens on aeroplanes.) Or maybe you just want be more comfortable on a long flight. There’s really no one stopping you. All we can do is share how to do it in the most courteous way possible.

First, you will need a few items:

  • a plastic bag, shoe bag or packing cube

  • a clean pair of socks

  • a pair of light slippers

Now, you must time it right. Do not remove your shoes during takeoff and landing, the most dangerous parts of a flight. Wait until the plane is cruising. When the seatbelt light is off, you can go to the bathroom, take off your shoes and socks, put on a clean pair of socks and slippers, and stash your shoes and old socks in a bag or packing cube. Then return to your seat and enjoy your shoeless freedom. (Alternately, you can put on your clean socks in the airport bathroom right before boarding.)

If your feet tend to smell, please do something about that before you step on the aircraft — we suggest using baking-soda based deodorant or pure rubbing alcohol.


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