American Drops Dress Code For Non-Revenue Passengers

Filed Under: American

Some of you may remember United’s first big viral story of the year, which revolved around a United non-rev being denied boarding for wearing leggings on a flight.

For those of you not familiar, a non-rev is an airline employee, or a friend or family member of an employee, who is traveling using the privileges given to airline employees, typically on a space available basis. The exact fees and restrictions associated with this vary by airline, but at some airlines employees can travel for free in any seat, while at other airlines there are small fees involved, restrictions on which cabins people can travel in, etc. It’s worth noting that those redeeming miles for tickets aren’t “non-rev” passengers, even though you’re technically not paying cash for a ticket.

Anyway, many airlines have dress codes for non-rev passengers, and I outlined some of those in a previous post. Of the big three US carriers, United had the strictest policy, followed by American, followed by Delta (their policy is basically the same for non-revenue passengers as revenue passengers).

Well, as noted by kellzbellz on FlyerTalk, American has just eliminated their dress code for non-rev employees, including those traveling in premium cabins. Perhaps more accurately, it’s now more or less the same for revenue and non-revenue passengers. Here’s the new policy, per TWA844:

For most of us, being comfortable in flight extends to the clothes we wear. American doesn’t have a prescribed dress code for our non-revenue guests. So, as long as your clothing is neat and clean and doesn’t offend or distract, you’re good to fly in any class (including premium cabins). If you’re looking for more specifics, here are a few:

  • When we say offensive or distractive, we mean you shouldn’t wear anything that’s overly revealing (like super short shorts or something that is sheer or see through). That also extends to swimwear or sleepwear (of course it’s always okay to change into your American-provided pajamas if you’re lucky to snag a First Class seat on a premium international flight!)
  • It also means to avoid any attire that is vulgar or violates community standards of decency
  • When in doubt, ask yourself, “Do I blend in with customers?” If so, you’re probably set

The biggest change here is for those wishing to travel in premium cabins. While American’s economy dress code has long been relaxed, previously they didn’t allow shorts, beach footwear, jogging suits, athletic gear, and baseball caps, in premium cabins. Going forward, all of those items are fine.

American’s dress code for non-revs traveling in premium cabins has been relaxed

I can see both sides here. On one hand, you’d like to think that those traveling with their privileges put their best foot forward and aren’t actively slobs. Then again, you can’t typically tell who is a non-rev and who isn’t, so I’m not sure the argument that they should be ambassadors for the airline really flies.

Even though crocs are now allowed for non-revs in premium cabins, please don’t wear them, regardless of who you are. Please.

  1. “Then again, you can’t typically tell who is a non-rev and who isn’t”

    Sure you can … they’re the ones that are in your pre-reserved great seat after the FA/GA gives you some nonsense reason they needed to move you.

  2. “Even though crocs are now allowed for non-revs in premium cabins, please don’t wear them, regardless of who you are. Please.”

    What about your beloved “sneakers”?? 🙂

  3. As a non-rev I remember the days where I was required to wear a dress… my father a suit… this is HUGE. Though, even with the change I don’t know if I’ll feel comfortable to dress down, especially if I’m trying to snag a First or Business seat.

  4. Most AA employees can’t be bothered to be “neat and clean” when in uniform. Also, the actual copy of the policy is poor business writing.

  5. Well Lucky… what about your ugly sneakers that you wear on premium cabins?

    If the shoe fit, wear it.

  6. Reinforces just how crAAppy the airline is.

    You pay $7,578 for first class roundtrip between New York to London and the non-revs are dressed for McDonald’s, not even for a mid-priced restaurant (let alone a restaurant someone spending $7,500 on a ticket would go to).

    Talking about not understanding the customer.

  7. @Nancy
    That’s a disgusting, highly elitist and downright snotty and snobby generalization.

  8. Nonrev should still dress smart casual.
    It doesn’t mean a suit and tie
    however the sense of dress and definition of casual in the USA versus Europe and parts of Asia is somewhat different

  9. Dresses and suits are a bit extreme, frankly. I’m glad they’re loosening this up. My Dad occasionally uses my late Mother’s AA benefits and puts on a sport coat (no tie) which is like formal wear for him but he never complains because the red eyes he takes are free. I’m sure he’ll enjoy this change. Thanks for the post!

  10. I’m a huge proponent for dressing however you want when paying for a ticket. If you can afford it (cash or points) who’s to tell you that sneakers, sweats, etc. aren’t okay?
    Are your egos so big that you need everyone to see you wearing a suit when turning left onto a plane?

    Maybe it’s just because I’m young(er), but I love seeing older people get frustrated with my casual dress when I’m flying the same or better class as them. Get over yourselves.

  11. AA didn’t enforce the policy anyway, how is this news? I sat next to the wife of a pilot a few weeks ago and she and her son looked ready for the beach. I guess when you’re high on the ladder for non-rev then it must concern flyers less. When I worked for Worldspan we were threatened with work discipline if we annoyed one of the parent airlines with our dress, so we took it very seriously.

    AA has clearly been a joke for some time now on non-rev policies…

  12. Nancy is a troll who doesnt mean what she says. Just for your guys future reference, you don’t need to respond.

  13. One of my parents worked for a legacy carrier for over 25 years and I grew up non revving. It was drilled into us that we were to always dress in such a manner as to bring zero negative attention to ourselves and by extension, to the airline. Not only were we expected to dress impeccably, but we were also expected to behave in the gate area and onboard in ways fit for royalty. I never recall such requirements as hardships. While I certainly don’t dress up to fly equal to the standards of my youth, I still try to dress more attractively than I do if I am just running errands or hanging out at my house. Call me old fashioned, because I still believe that looking presentable and having good manners never go out of style. All that being said, and funny as it sounds, I can still spot a nonrev in a heartbeat, dressed well, or not. “Takes one to know one,” I guess.

  14. Lucky, why do you single out Crocs? I have 2 friends who have had pediatric surgery and have not been able to wear any other type of shoe since the surgery. Maybe keep your eyes on your screen and not so much on the feet of others who may be less fortunate than you in terms of foot pain.

  15. I grew up flying AA nonrev. I could always spot who the non revs were at the gate…we all looked alike.

  16. For me, I have three rules when flying:

    1. Look classy when you fly
    2. Be courteous
    3. Expect the unexpected

    I like dressing up to fly, but maybe that is just personal preference…

  17. Even though Nancy was a bit nasty, she has a very valid point. Any non-rev who shows up in shorts or beachwear or an undershirt has little or no self-respect. Yes, even though the revenue passengers – even in business class – may sometimes be wearing the same. Our society has fallen to new depths and there’s no reason non-revs should join them down there. Have a little self-respect, and just a little bit of class. Wear a nice shirt and a pair of pants. It isn’t brain surgery. She’s equally right about AA not understanding their customer base.

  18. I nonrev on SWA frequently and feel wearing a sport coat and shoes is a small price to pay. It also means I can layer for less carry on. I often just have a backpack since getting overhead is tough when you’re C30+ in line.

  19. The non rev dress code will be a solution for existing complications or to complicate something which is in flow ?

  20. Some of you people crack me up. If I’m boarding a long-haul flight, I’m dressing for comfort, not for style. Anyone who cares more about style than comfort on a long haul is a pretentious douchebag.

  21. @ Steve Let me see if I have this right. If passengers dress how they would like to dress and are comfortable with it. they are a “pretentious douchebag.” However, if they follow your demands of comfort and dress, and in a manner that you would approve, then they are esteemed passengers in Steve’s world?
    As prior post have stated; good manners never go out of style. It’s a lesson worth remembering and will take you far in life.

  22. @Audrey. – Tell your friends to look up GEOX shoes. Much better support for the feet and they are very trendy indeed. They also sell more formal and conservative cuts for old people.

    If in Asia Tsubo also works.

    Never a need for nasty crocs! 😉

  23. I pay for my ticket and I dress how I want. Given the absurd security theatre at airports, that means nothing that needs a belt, and nothing with metal fixings (like dress shoes). And if I’m spending 15 hours in a low pressure tube I also don’t want anything close-fitting let alone elasticated.

    So I’m left with linen drawstring pants and things like lightweight technical wool T shirts and hoodies.

    It’s anyway the embarrassing and intrusive garbage that surrounds flying that has forced all of us to dumb down. I dress how I consider appropriate, and assume others do the same.

    “Dress code”. Even the concept is 1950s.

  24. Glad to see the relaxing of this requirement. Working in sales for a regional airline always required a tie and sport coat, even when traveling on leisure. It always grabbed me a first class seat, but of course those were the days before elite status had taken over, so us non-revs were always flooding the cabin up front, even internationally, with the exception of a few revenue passengers. I think the airlines wanted us to make a good impression on their revenue passengers. Now a days non-revs are coach bound, and then lucky to grab even a middle seat, so who cares anymore? I know the added dress comfort is much appreciated.

    All this talk about dress up/dress down reminds me of one of the most memorable non-rev flights of my life when some of my co-workers from Aspen decided to meet up for a weekend jaunt to Puerto Vallarta. Checking the loads I had found a Western wide body flight that was booked to “0” in First and shared it with everyone. So we all decided to meet up in LAX for this flight. After the flight had boarded the only people left in the gate was a few of us from the Aspen station and about 40 other guys wearing ties and sport coats/gals wearing their finest dresses (sort of hesterical when you think of it — all dressed up and heading to a top Mexican beach town?) Then the Western gate agent began to clear us all AND WE GRABBED OUR BOARDING PASSES & RUSHED ON BOARD. At first the DC10 first class cabin was completely empty, but we filled it up fast! It was now packed with all non-revs dressed to the nines, not one revenue passenger. The door closed and the booze was flowing before we even left the gate. Once in flight everyone was out of their seats making new friends, exchanging phone numbers, exchanging where they would be staying, so we could continue the party once we landed. CRAZY FUN TIMES INDEED! We worked hard, were paid very little by our respective airline, but we cherished our fight benefits, so the dress-up was not burdensome at all.

    What fun we had on that Western Airlines fight… even the flight attendants had the time of their life! It will never be repeated by anyone. Now I travel up front on miles, don’t meet near as many fun people but I too enjoy the game of spotting non-revs at the gate, and especially enjoy the privilege on rare occasions to be seated next to one in a premium cabin.

  25. i’m glad the dress code is more relaxed. in the past I was the only passenger in long pants,shoes, sport jacket flying out of the carribbean (same with Hawaii). on a midnight flight trying to get to my brother’s funeral, I was pulled from the jetway because my shoes had white soles. changed into my black dress shoes right there with everyone around me giving strange looks.

    there are too many variables to set one dress code. so, the code to me is dress appropriately for the flight you are trying to take.

    think: destination first, distance, time, class, purpose of your travel and respect to those around you. you can be comfortable and smartly dressed at the same time.

    be thankful you got on the flight and this perk is still available. smile even if you’re given the middle seat. NOT looking like a homeless person goes a long way.

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