When you’re suffering through a long flight in cramped seats the last thing you probably want is to be dressed to the nines, but skipping out on those pyjama pants does have its advantages. You might even get a better seat.
Photo via Roderick Eime.
Once upon a time, airlines would upgrade people based on how nicely they were dressed. Look like a prominent businessman stuck in economy? Here’s a first-class seat for you sir. Nowadays, things are different, and airlines usually only upgrade through loyalty programs. But nabbing an upgrade for looking sharp is still possible, says George Hobica, the founder of Airfare Watchdog.
He told The New York Times that he was recently upgraded for wearing a nice suit while everyone else was in sandals and gym clothes — and that he had friends tell him similar stories over the years. Hobica also says that his gate agent friend who worked for Lufthansa would occasionally upgrade people based on how well dressed they were after they had already gone down the status list and checked everyone’s miles. Of course, not every airline will do that – and its still rare if it does happen.
Even so, there are other reasons to dress nicely for a flight besides getting a better seat. You might earn a little special treatment from the flight attendants (being nice helps, too), and it never hurts to look professional. After all, you never know who you might be sitting next to.
Lastly, you’ll be fine if the airline loses your luggage. You won’t have to show up to that big meeting in track pants.
This story has been updated since its original publication.