Changing Into Pajamas At Your Seat: Bad Idea Or Great Idea?

Filed Under: Travel

I’ll be the first to admit I’m not an expert on airplane pajama etiquette… I’m pretty sure I proved that back in Singapore in 2011.

At the same time that hasn’tĀ stopped me from calling out others for “bad” etiquette, like the guy that decided to change in front of the cabin in Lufthansa first class. šŸ˜‰


Well, today I had a situation enroute from Seoul Incheon to Abu Dhabi that was, perhaps, regrettable.


After a 14 hour flight delay and an incredibly frustrating experience, I finally boarded and was ready for some champagne. I had a few glasses before takeoff and was feeling G-O-O-D!


Since the flight was delayed so much, manyĀ people had been rebooked onto other flights, so the flight was fairly empty. Boarding was completed within 15 minutes, andĀ by the time I was ready to change into pajamas we were already pushing back.


I’m a bit like Sheldon Cooper in that I have my routines and I don’t stray from them much. I change into pajamas before takeoff. That’s just what I do.

So we’re pushing back and changing before takeoff isĀ no longer an option. And keep in mindĀ I did have a few glasses of champagne, so had fewer inhibitions, I suppose.

I was in seat 2K, and there were a total of three other first class passengers — a couple in 1D & 1G, and a lady in 2A. Etihad’s suites are extremely private, so as we were taxiing out I decided I might as well change into pajamas… at my seat.


I had a blanket, I had underwear on, and it theoretically takes all of 10 seconds to do. No one is being harmed, so why not?

As the cabin was rather empty the center seats in my row were unoccupied, and at this point the lady in 2A hadn’t looked anywhere except forward since boarding (as far as I know — she was wearing a burqa so I couldn’t see anything but her eyes, and I couldn’t even see those since she was just looking directly ahead).

So I decided to go for it, and started changing into pajamas as we taxied.

And go figure exactly as I’m changing my pants the woman in 2A lookedĀ over. I don’t know whether or not she had a look of horror, given that I couldn’t see her face, but it sure was awkward.

Even more amusing was after takeoff when the flight attendant said “hmmm, I don’t remember you changing into pajamas.”

If I hadn’t hadĀ a few glasses of champagne I probably wouldn’t have done it, but at the same time, is it really so wrong to change at your seat? If you’re discreet andĀ under a blanket, what’s the downside? That’s what the suites are for after all, no?

[poll id=”46″]

Next time I’ll change into pajamas at my seat with the doors closed, I think…

  1. I have done this on Asiana, but I waited until we were airborne and then did it behind the closed doors of my F suite. That’s the only context in which I feel it’s appropriate to change at one’s seat.

  2. Anyone else find the idea of nearly naked Ben really hot? What kind of underwear do you wear Ben? We need to know!

  3. I was on a Korean Air flight and their was myself, my friend and one other passenger in the cabin. The other passenger, a male, straight up changed into his pj’s at his seat. Seeing this my friend was like he’s on to something. I’m changing at my seat too. The difference was my friend was a girl. But, she went ahead and changed with the blanket over her. I changed in the bathroom.

  4. Before doing this, ask yourself “When I’m at the gym, would most people want to be me or be with me?” If the honest answer is “I think so,” then it’s probably OK, because almost nobody looks so good as to given an unqualified “yes” every time.

    If the answer is “no” or “Hell Yeah!” then you should not, because you’re either being totally honest about your aesthetic limitations, or you’re drunk. In either case, you shouldn’t be stripping down on an airplane.

  5. hahahah totally was expecting a diff ending to this story… btw why were you changing with your suite door wide open, that makes no sense given that that’s exactly what the suite door is for :S in situations like these.

    voted for the comedy 3rd option šŸ˜€ always vote for the comedy 3rd option!

  6. I can’t believe you didn’t close the door!!! Yikes! I have to wonder though – how hard is it for you to wait 5-10 minutes to get to an altitude where they turn the seatbelt sign off?? I’m not sure I see how this is something that must be done immediately. Champagne buzz understood though – I can’t say I remember the shameless things I may have done when I had 4 glasses of wine and an Ambien…..

  7. Maybe you had Jocks on that looked like something your grandad would wear Lucky. @:) I reckon that lady is in therapy

  8. Btw people he ain’t parading in his budgie smugglers thru the aircraft. Lucky probably has a hot bod… @:)

  9. This freaks me out as a germaphobe. Most people change their pants sitting down while on a plane unless they have acrobatic skill, so imagine that the person who occupied the seat before you put their almost-bare bottom covered only somewhat by tighty whities onto the seat. Ugh…gross! But I’d never change clothes in a small, germ-covered bathroom either, so as a woman I just travel in nice yoga pants for leisure trips!

  10. I was in Cathay Pacific First recently and initially changed in the bathroom. Later, I was pretty hot and decided to take off their shirt and put my t-shirt back on, which I did at my seat with no hesitation.

  11. You’re young – give her a show! Probably the most exciting that’s ever happened to her in 1st!

  12. Sorry, but as an ultra frequent traveler you should know it is never a good idea to take off your shoes or drink too much before the flight reaches cruising altitude. Remember US #1549 – bird strike landing in Hudson. No fun exiting the plane in your PJs without shoes. Even without a major disaster you may still be forced to exit the plane on the tarmac when there is smoke in cabin, flat tire, etc. That is why I always carry passport, wallet and cellphone on me at all times. May not have time to go into overhead. And good point above regarding germs on seats, though that can be addressed with antiseptic wipes.

  13. When the lighting is down and there is no activity in the aisle that’s when I go for it. I always have a blanket covering me though. I don’t think most people would even care if they saw you. I always keep my boxers on though, that’s where I draw the line on this issue. If needing to change undies please use the lav for that!

  14. Love your blog but that was bad form. And I think you realize it. Not worth capital punishment but my sense is you wouldn’t do it again. Closed door? Fine. That said, still love your blog!

  15. @Joy: I was on Delta biz class last week from GRU to DTW and as soon as we boarded in GRU the lady next to me in the aisle basically used an entire bottle of alcohol gel and disinfectant wipes and cleaned every single part of her space. From seat to tray table, TV screen, etc…. FAs could not believe when she handed them a huge trash bag full of used wipes and other stuff. Unbelievable!!!

  16. My guess is she thought “nice butt.” If it had been me looking over, I would have graciously offered to help. . .

  17. OK, Lucky, really? Mr. Prim and Proper…..Were you covered by the blanket? Like people change at the beach, under a towel? If no one saw your underwear, like it was always under the cover of the blanket? Then, I wouldn’t worry about it. If this was me, and the lavatory was the smallish type, with wet spots on the floor,….I would change under the blanket, at my seat as well.

  18. Oh, no. No. No. No.

    Maybe this is my conservative Russian ancestry talking but I would be utterly appalled and repulsed if I saw someone changing at his seat, no matter how cute he is. So much etiquette and civility has disappeared from modern day air travel, making it far less pleasurable.

    Also, I have been dutifully checking OMAAT literally every 30 minutes in anxious anticipation of the details of this pissing match you got embroiled in. And I am so curious to read of the Etihad flight! Your teaser worked wonders; I have been looking forward to this trip report all friggin’ day.

    So where the hell is it?

  19. I want to chastise you but then I realized I did some changing once in 1A on a Cathay Pacific 777. Oops.

  20. Who flies first class on a regular basis and doesn’t have the social grace to hold off to change in the lavatory after take off?!

  21. Santastico,

    My family and I clean our seating areas, as well. At most, economy class is only wiped down, once a week. Some carriers do more for the premium classes, but not really any seats are cleaned on any regular basis. I do not want to catch something traveling to my hard earned vacation. So we clean, wipes are cheap and pretty effective.

    Just so you know,….I have seen baby’s diapers changed on the tray tables and then the dirty diapers were stuffed in the seat pocket. Those seat pockets are like trash cans. So for about 1 dollar, buy some wipes. Clean the tray table, arm rests, video controls, etc. If this even saves you from one cold, flu, or stomach virus infection, small price to pay. Flight attendants have seen everything, so I don’t worry about them, saying anything.

  22. @ Joy — Is that worse than people putting their bare feet all over the seats, which happens on just about every flight I take?

  23. I think you knew the answer before you asked the question. Remember, we’ve “met” your mother, and “she done good”.

    All the rest is about audience participation. You’re pretty grounded at heart. Otherwise the question wouldn’t have occurred to you. Call her with a “thank you” one of these days.

  24. Gah… First class and semi-nudity, you certainly know your readers… Well done. Just how many glasses of champagne did that take? Three, four? What happens at five??

  25. Hey I didn’t know you were on that Lufthansa flight with me. lol..

    Seriously, I always wait until I have my first big meal before I change in my jammies. I’ve never seen people change before takeoff, I find that kind of odd. But then again Lucky, I’ve only been on a few international first class flights. Great updates today by the way, thanks!

  26. I have a good buddy who used to travel long haul a lot. He was on SQ in J, on a 380 (I think). Anyway, he decides to go the bathroom to change – but when he gets there, nature takes its course, and he promptly has a sit down and does his business. Because he’s changing into pajamas, he decides “may as well strip down to my birthday suit”. Which he did. So there he is, minding his own business, stark naked on the toilet doing his thing.

    Thing is he had forgotten to lock the door and a very petite, cute young SQ flight attendant opened the door and saw a small, fat hairy Yugoslavian hedgehog sitting on the throne, singing to himself.

    She screamed in horror (lets face it, if you met my friend, he really does have a face and a body only a mother could love), he screams in embarrassment, there is much arm waving and she slams the door and runs and hides in the galley. Never to be seen again according to my friend, the naked bathroom bandit.

    So Lucky, have at it changing at your seat. I have done this a few times on EK in F, when the cabin was empty. Up until the point the crew told me that while I did my best to be discrete, the cameras in the F cabin still saw everything šŸ™‚

  27. I always change into my pajamas before takeoff, actually before taxiing if I can. Although, I’ve always done it in the lav. Love that you did a survey on this Lucky…but as coice three said…”If you have to ask”…;).

  28. Not a changing story, but on my United flight from FRA to ORD last week there was a guy sitting in first whose girlfriend was in biz class. She proceeded to come up to first and LAY DOWN WITH HIM. For at least an hour. Flight attendants didn’t seem to mind at all. So awkward.

  29. “Next time Iā€™ll change into pajamas at my seat with the doors closed, I thinkā€¦”

    Hmmm, ya think?

  30. Ben, if you can see her eyes its a Niqab, not a Burqa. Know your garments of oppression šŸ˜‰

  31. @ MarkP — I think it was just three glasses. Not usually enough to get me drunk, but was over short period.

  32. OMG .. you changed in the open in a MIDDLE EASTERN AIRLINE with a lady passenger IN A BURQA seated opposite you!!!!!! OMG … OMG … OMG …

  33. I would be ok with it if you waited until take-off, but the champagne is a semi-satisfactory excuse. I’m assuming you didn’t actually “flash” the Muslim lady.

  34. I think in that moment of your indiscretion you are morally obligated to offer the woman and the flight attendant a table dance………..based on your previous posts we are certain you have have the proper videos to play along with it…………it’s only fair………

  35. Firsrt time commenter, but I have been reading for a while. Why on earth is the concept of someone changing their clothing so horrifying? Etiquette has it’s place, but it’s place is for when your actions genuinely affect others, and I am amazed anyone thinks this affects anyone who doesn’t choose to look at it.

    One of these comments stated that it was ok if you were someone other people would want to be in a gym, which is a disgusting attitude. So, people’s actions should be determined by whether other people find them attractive? Sorry, but no. Whether or not you can wear skimpy clothing or change in a plane is not subject to the aesthetic approval of the masses, whatever side you take it’s either ok or it isn’t, and attractiveness level is _not_ a factor.

    The logistics of how you do it could be discussed forever, personally I have changed my pants under a blanket and my shirt in my seat a few times especially when it’s a window seat and fairly well hidden. I would probably do it every time if I wasn’t concerned about causing irrational reactions in other people like the ones above, at least partly because I feel it’s unfair to occupy an airplace bathroom when you aren’t even using the toilet – I frequently travel in BA Business class which is generally a fairly full cabin.

    But really, why not just ignore things you don’t like, instead of expecting other people to behave the way you deem appropriate? I’m not saying people should be allowed to urinate in the aisle or anything (that clearly DOES affect the other passengers), but 5 seconds of partial nudity is something we should all just get over. Not to mention that it would eliminate the issue of hygiene if people felt sufficiently liberated to stand up to change their pants.

  36. Some of you people are vile creatures. I had to tolerate dicks like you for 20 years working for the worlds safest airline.. I change into my pjs at my seat. I have a six pac (it’s in the esky atm on ice) I wear Ben Sherman jocks and I look bloody fabulous. The FA always comes with a glass of Charles H for me with a cheeky smile. Lighten up eh. As for germs on seats, for FCUK sake..

  37. I wear speedos in front of anybody. I will strip down to my underwear (CK briefs mainly) at gas stations when I change from work clothes into casual clothes. I have no problems showing the majority of my body to other human beings who have undoubtedly seen other people in a similar state of undress.

    I am gifted with good genes, high metabolism, and a discipline to work out 4-5 days per week. Perhaps that gives me confidence, but even if not, others should feel free to do the same.

    The real question here, I feel, is not about having the courage to change clothes in front of others on a plane; rather, is it offensive to do so?

    My take, as somebody who would LOVE to sleep on planes wearing only my underwear since they crank the heat up way too much, is that you need to be respectful. If you can change and not get caught, then it’s fine. But to do it in plain view when potential viewers could be offended, that’s not cool.

    Now, if there are seat neighbors who have made it clear they want to see more of you, then the rules change. But even in those circumstances, you still should keep it classy.

  38. NO…Just no…a flying experience wont disintegrate if gym locker room activities were practiced at the toilet (even when performed after take-off). Bad call (even on a non-middle eastern airline). Whatever constitutes as acceptable behavior (in any place for that matter) is anything both genders would be comfortable doing in the said place. BIG thumbs down for this one.

  39. You should take into consideration that someone wearing a burqa is likely pretty conservative, and in fact it might be against her religion to see another man half naked.

    So I would argue your actions DO affect other passengers.

    Poor form in my opinion. Wait the 10 minutes and close your suite door next time. How difficult is that?

    And blaming it on the champagne is even worse. If you make bad decisions after drinking 3 glasses of champagne, and you admit you normally wouldn’t have done it without the champagne, then don’t drink that much. Clearly you don’t have the tolerance for it.

  40. Watch out- if someone catches you with a camera you’ll no doubt be published on Passenger Shaming!

  41. @ Santastico, if you had said the lady was on a Delta flight out of ATL, I’d have to hang my head in shame. Thankfully, I’m not that extreme

    @Lucky, you’re right – the barefoot thing is completely gross and the #1 plane etiquette infraction. A bare bottom just adds an extra layer to it.

  42. Funny but no is my answer. Did you go at the end of the flight ad apologise to her?

    I remember once flying F in a BA 747 to Hong Kong and a guys elderly father got changed in the full cabin of 14!!

  43. Ben some of your readers are frigid Bridget’s with ridget digits… Boring as and dollar snobs. Get over yourselves, “skippy, Al, Jude”. Here skippy lol.

  44. I’ve changed tops at my suite in the middle of a night flight (because of theheat), but never in full view of someone. The only time I have come close was on a BA flight out of Cape Town when I changed while everyone was boarding (Old First) and the bathroom had a window. As it was dark outside, I didn’t think twice about it and stripped down, and changed into my PJs. Only upon leaving the bathroom did I notice the blind open and upon leaning in closer, I saw 4 ground staff looking up. I have no idea what they could have seen from that level, and quite frankly, I made such a rapid exit from the bathroom that I tried not to think about it. I rarely ever drink when I fly, but I knocked back a couple right after sitting down at my seat.

  45. Classy as always.

    Skippy got it right above.

    Look: living among other humans in society involves having some consideration for others and occasionally applying a little common sense. You were on a middle east airline. Seated in a first class cabin. A lady seated near you was dressed in a frigging burqa. Jesus Christ on a cracker, you think it’s appropriate to toss back a few glasses of bubbly and then start showing some skin in this situation? Great judgement, and such excellent taste. Because, you know, it’s such a terrible burden for you to suffer there in your suite and wait all of ten minutes until the plane is at cruising attitude and you can change in the gold-plated bathroom. Oh the humanity.

    Watching spoiled, entitled children act out in public always embarrasses me.

    Stay classy.

  46. If you have to ask whether it’s a “bad idea or great idea” then you should already know the answer as to whether what you did was in good taste or not.

  47. Can we all at least agree that airplanes need bigger restrooms? Changing into PJs in a typical tiny bathroom requires Cirque du Soleil level of gymnastic skills.

  48. Ivan is spot on….if it’s a small lav then it’s an under the blanket change for me………BTW Boarding Area spell correction sux………….

  49. It sounds like Ben just got tired of being on the receiving end of a pre-flight serving of warm nuts and instead decided to dish some out.

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