It goes without saying that comfort is key when you’re sitting for hours in a confined metal tube flying 12,000 metres in the air. But it turns out we might have to put a bit more thought into our plane attire than previously thought.
Most airlines don’t have a strict dress code, but there are actually widely-accepted guidelines for what you should wear on a plane. Or more specifically, what not to wear. In fact, some airlines’ fine print includes genuine requirements to follow or else you can run the risk of being denied entry onto your flight.
So, before heading to the airport for your next trip, keep these points in mind for optimum comfort, convenience and cleanliness.
Things you should not wear on a flight
Heading on a summer holiday? It might be tempting to slip into thongs or slides for your plane ride, but you might want to think twice.
According to Andrea Fischbach, a flight attendant who works for American Airlines, flyers should avoid wearing backless sandals, flip-flops and high heels at all times. In an interview with Who What Wear, Fischbach explained that these types of shoes not only make it difficult to evacuate in an emergency, but they can also damage the emergency evacuation slides, slip off your feet and aren’t practical for running.
“I would really advise against high heels or flip-flops or any slides, mostly for safety purposes. If there is an evacuation and slides are required, your high heels will have to come off, as they can puncture the slide,” the flight attendant told the publication. “Who knows where and in what conditions you’ll land. Plus, they aren’t very practical running gate to gate.”
Furthermore, open-toed shoes won’t keep your feet warm, especially during a long flight, and can also make for an unsanitary visit to the plane lavatories (yes, that water on the floor is probably not water…).
What to wear instead: Any enclosed shoes like sneakers, ballet flats, boots and loafers.
A single layer
It’s impossible to predict the temperature on a plane, so it’s always wise to prepare for all scenarios. That’s why wearing a single layer – whether that’s a tank top or a thick sweater – isn’t the best idea.
What to wear instead: Opt for multiple light layers like cardigans and sweaters so you’re prepped if it’s cool, and then you can simply remove these layers if it’s warm.
This is where most airline fine print comes into play. The guidelines around what is deemed offensive are intentionally vague, but it basically refers to anything lewd, profane or obscene. If an airline deems your clothing to be offensive, you can be asked to change, and in the case you refuse, you may be denied entry onto your flight — or be kicked off.
What to wear instead: Basically, any clothing that’s inoffensive. If you have any hesitations about a piece of clothing, err on the side of caution and don’t wear it.
Anything with metal
If you needed another reason to save your high heels for your trip (and not your flight), the metal nails in your stilettos will significantly slow you down when you go through airport security, which is a hassle you can go without.
As for your jewellery, it’s a smart idea to take off all of your pieces before you get to the airport and safely store them in a convenient place in your carry-on. Then, once you pass through security, you can pop them all back on.
What to wear instead: Again, ditch the high heels and opt for enclosed shoes like sneakers, ballet flats, boots and loafers. For jewellery, invest in a small case that can easily fit into your carry-on, like this one from Amazon.
As fashionable as celebrities look departing planes dressed in leather pants or jeans, you’ll want to avoid these restrictive bottoms to avoid cramping, swelling and deep vein thrombosis. Also, keep in mind bloating is quite common, especially on long-haul flights.
What to wear instead: Bottoms made with elastic waistbands or any other stretchy material. Trackpants, loose leggings and high-waist trousers are all excellent options.
Remember, you’ll be sitting in a confined space with other people close to you, so be mindful of those who may have sensitivities to certain fragrances and avoid wearing anything too powerful.
On the other hand, if you’re more susceptible to body odour, (please) pack a fragrance-free deodorant in your carry-on.
What to wear instead: A light fragrance like an Eau de Toilette, a touch of essential oil like peppermint or just some good old fragrance-free deodorant.
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