Do You Have To “Dress The Part” In First Class?

Do You Have To “Dress The Part” In First Class?

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It’s always fun to discuss travel etiquette on the blog, as it generates some interesting conversations, with differing perspectives. I often get asked if there’s a dress code when flying in first class (whether domestic or international), and if one should dress up when sitting in the pointy end of the plane. In this post I wanted to share my thoughts, and I look forward to hearing how OMAAT readers feel.

What you should and shouldn’t wear on a plane

Personally I think the same clothing “etiquette” rules should apply in economy, business, and first class. I’m pretty easy going, so I think:

  • You should wear clean and non-smelly clothes (and even beyond the clothes, make sure you don’t smell bad)
  • You should cover everything that needs to be covered (people have vastly differing opinions of what that entails, but at an absolute minimum, cover your private parts)
  • You should follow cultural norms for the place you’re flying to & from; for example, Saudia requires women to cover their arms and legs, and prohibits men from wearing shorts
  • Ideally wear close-toed shoes, but if you choose not to, please make sure your feet don’t smell and aren’t unpleasant to look at (self-selection is tricky here, because presumably people who don’t take care of their feet don’t realize how off putting that can be to others, but I digress)

I’d say these are half rules and half etiquette tips, and they should apply regardless of the class of service you’re traveling in. I think the trickiest of the above is the one about covering everything that needs to be covered. That’s roughly in line with the dress code most airlines have, but it’s often used subjectively to kick people off planes, and it’s also disproportionately used against curvier women.

Saudia is one of the few airlines with a real dress code

Why you shouldn’t have to “dress up” to fly first class

A lot of people choose to dress up when they fly in premium cabins. I totally respect that and see why they do it. I also hope that they respect when other people choose not to.

Let me make the simple case for why you shouldn’t feel like you need to dress up to fly. If you’re expected to “dress the part” in first class, why do airlines distribute pajamas and slippers, and encourage you to change into them before takeoff? For those who believe you should have to dress up to fly, do you oppose changing into them?

Emirates first class pajamas
Emirates first class slippers

A lot of people like to draw parallels to dining in top restaurants, etc., though last I checked, most restaurants don’t give you pajamas and slippers to change into before your meal. I’ll take it a step further — where else in the world can you change into pajamas, enjoy some caviar, and then walk to a bar, all at 35,000 feet?! It’s pretty flippin’ awesome, isn’t it?

Some people like to reference the “good old days” of flying, where people dressed up. I don’t know how many decades we’re going back with that argument, but if we’re going to go back several decades, then it’s important to recognize that flying was a completely different mode of transportation then.

50 years ago airplanes weren’t sleeping quarters, but rather they were restaurants, social clubs, and cigar bars. Flying also wasn’t something that many people did weekly, but rather something that was rarer, and inflation adjusted, significantly more expensive. Every aspect of the flying experience — from first class to economy — is different than back in the “good old days.” In some cases it’s for the better (hello Emirates A380 first class shower!) and in some cases it’s for the worse (hello US-based airlines!).

What’s not to love about visiting a bar in pajamas?!

What do I wear when flying?

I’m by no means suggesting that anyone should take fashion advice from me (well, at least not most people), but for anyone curious, I generally wear athleisure-type clothes when I fly. I usually wear sweats that could look like dress pants if you don’t look closely, a comfortable sweater, a workout shirt, and dressier shoes.

I don’t care whether I’m flying Spirit’s Big Front Seat or Emirates first class, that’s my go-to. It’s incredibly versatile, regardless of the temperature, whether I want to sleep or sit up, and it doesn’t wrinkle.

Why don’t I wear dressier clothes on planes? I’m usually traveling with just a carry-on, and I want to preserve the nicer clothes for when I’m actually on the ground. Nothing wrinkles clothes quite like wearing them on a plane, and then add in the risk of spills, and it’s a bad combination.

Bottom line

I respect everyone’s right to dress how they want on a plane, whether that’s in a suit or (clean) casual clothes. Personally I don’t follow the logic of those who are horrified by people dressing down for a long flight, when many airlines encourage passengers to change into pajamas and slippers once they’re onboard.

What’s your approach to dressing when flying? Do you dress up when flying in a premium cabin?

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  1. Emily

    Dressing appropriately is important to me. I definitely judge people on how they dress rather than what they wear. Dressing up is a statement whether one likes it or not. I dress up in a stylish attire any time I am in public. I do it because I like to exhibit my professionalism and my fashion-centric personality. My general observation is that people in the US are averse to dressing up and lack a sense...

    Dressing appropriately is important to me. I definitely judge people on how they dress rather than what they wear. Dressing up is a statement whether one likes it or not. I dress up in a stylish attire any time I am in public. I do it because I like to exhibit my professionalism and my fashion-centric personality. My general observation is that people in the US are averse to dressing up and lack a sense of fashion or basic style. Living around the world, spotting an American is easy solely on the basis of their unusual clothing habits.

  2. Aviator

    You can always dress down if you feel overdressed. If you dress like a slob, guess how you will be treated??

  3. Darren C

    I average four flights in First/Business every week, about half of those in lie flats.

    My suit bag holds my dress clothing so I don't arrive wrinkled. I fly in casual wear.

    When flying TPAC I wear the pajamas and sometimes do so for TATL, especially when continuing on to another continent.

  4. AC

    After 8 million miles and travel all over the world I frankly could care less what anyone thinks of what I wear. Don't get me wrong - it will be appropriate and ironed but I have zero problem flying in first class (or hanging out in the lounges) in shorts and a golf shirt (I draw the line at wearing tshirts on the flight). If you want to dress up go for it but understand...

    After 8 million miles and travel all over the world I frankly could care less what anyone thinks of what I wear. Don't get me wrong - it will be appropriate and ironed but I have zero problem flying in first class (or hanging out in the lounges) in shorts and a golf shirt (I draw the line at wearing tshirts on the flight). If you want to dress up go for it but understand you are in the minority. IMHO, it is like people that want to play dress up on cruises - I worked almost 40 years (most at executive level of national companies) and when I travel now the last thing I want to do is dress up. I guess there are a lot of people who see it as a novelty but that pretty much tells me all I need to know about them - all the wealthy people I know dress casually unless there are specific dress codes or expectations.

  5. Lune

    I go for function over form. My typical flight attire, whether it's economy, business, or first, is a nice pair of cargo pants (yeah, some might think that's an oxymoron but you can get some nice looking chinos with flat pockets that don't look too bad :-), a long sleeve button down shirt untucked, and a sweatshirt in my backpack. The pockets on cargo pants are useful for various stuff you don't want to keep...

    I go for function over form. My typical flight attire, whether it's economy, business, or first, is a nice pair of cargo pants (yeah, some might think that's an oxymoron but you can get some nice looking chinos with flat pockets that don't look too bad :-), a long sleeve button down shirt untucked, and a sweatshirt in my backpack. The pockets on cargo pants are useful for various stuff you don't want to keep bending down and hunting through your backpack for, like earphones, cellphone, paper tickets (I always print tickets for international travel just in case), etc. The long sleeve shirt is usually the minimum I need to keep from getting too cold. Untucked for comfort but long enough that no plumber's crack is showing :-) And a sweatshirt in case I get cold.

    That said, while no one needs to wear a suit anymore, I think it's respectful of your fellow passengers with whom you'll be sharing space for 2-15 hours to wear something decent. It can be simple, comfortable, cheap, etc. But T-shirts with profanity on them, stained jeans, mesh wife beaters with nothing underneath, gym shorts, and other gear, IMHO, just seems like you're almost trying to go in the opposite direction. I'm sure everyone has a pair of jeans or untorn shorts, and a shirt that doesn't need to be blurred out on video. Is it too much to ask to wear them on the flight?

    P.S. I'm also of two minds when I see younger women literally in their pajamas (usually with Victorias Secret "Pink" written across their buttocks), hauling big pillows with them on daytime flights of 2-3 hours. I get the maxim to be comfortable, so I don't really mind, but this isn't a sleepover. Are you really planning on snoozing at 12pm between LGA-ORD?

    Also, get off my lawn!

  6. YULtide

    Personally, I match attire to the bubbly being served.

    Dom Perignon - dinner jacket
    Moet & Chandon - smoking jacket
    Prosecco - business casual
    etc

  7. Mark

    I've always wondered, do people really change into those pajamas on the plane? I'd think there would be a long line for the bathroom if everyone got into their jammies at the same time, and back into street clothes before landing. Or, do you slip the clothes on and off under the covers?

  8. Mary

    I'm a big believer in wearing clothes that feel good but that would look good at anywhere. My uniform: black tee shirt dress in cotton or cashmere; cotton tights; flat shoes or boots; an Hermés scarf (I'm outing myself as bougie); and a jacket, usually from Athleta, as well as Warren+White's cuddly cashmere travel wrap. Flat shoes from Rothy's are comfortable, dressy enough, and washable; and luscious over the knee boots for cooler weather are...

    I'm a big believer in wearing clothes that feel good but that would look good at anywhere. My uniform: black tee shirt dress in cotton or cashmere; cotton tights; flat shoes or boots; an Hermés scarf (I'm outing myself as bougie); and a jacket, usually from Athleta, as well as Warren+White's cuddly cashmere travel wrap. Flat shoes from Rothy's are comfortable, dressy enough, and washable; and luscious over the knee boots for cooler weather are beautiful and keep you warm. I could go almost anywhere dressed like that, from a service at a cathedral to a picnic.

  9. Kevin L

    I like stepping it up a bit, but I have no issue if someone else doesn't. I fly first/business class so infrequently it's a big deal to me. I have friends that do it weekly and could care less. Just be respectful to the flight attendants and your fellow passengers.

    My etiquette pet-peeve is with the people that put their feet on the bulkhead wall...

  10. MM

    Could someone please post an example of sweats that could look like dress pants?

    1. OPR

      I think he means the thinner variety?

  11. G. G.W.J.

    It is all about respect for others,and the fact that the staff are well dressed to interact with you.
    One could have a Amex Black card and walk into Chanel,Gucci, Tiffany's,or Cartier with cut off blue jean shorts and a tank top ready to spend $50,000 and expect the same professional treatment,but all he or she will get is ....what the hell is this show off doing.
    Wearing a nice shirt and a...

    It is all about respect for others,and the fact that the staff are well dressed to interact with you.
    One could have a Amex Black card and walk into Chanel,Gucci, Tiffany's,or Cartier with cut off blue jean shorts and a tank top ready to spend $50,000 and expect the same professional treatment,but all he or she will get is ....what the hell is this show off doing.
    Wearing a nice shirt and a sports coat with a nice pair of slacks or jeans to travel first class especially internationally just shows respect for the people who you interact with especially at check in,in the lounge,in the waiting area,at customer service,etc.
    The same respect should be showed when you go to a nice restaurant,bar, boutique,bank,or any other professional business ready to spend money.
    People who have the money to spend in Five Star restaurants,hotels,and expensive boutiques and stores have no problem looking the part,unless they are trying to prove a point that no one cares about.

  12. AndrewP

    I tend to dress down to black tie rather than white tie but it's such a shame that collar starching is not part of the service.

    Seriously, unless I am wearing a suit for a business day trip (all the pockets are useful for travelling) it's jeans baggy cotton or linen shirt and cotton or merino wool sweater and leather shoes or boots and that doesn't matter if I am in the front or the...

    I tend to dress down to black tie rather than white tie but it's such a shame that collar starching is not part of the service.

    Seriously, unless I am wearing a suit for a business day trip (all the pockets are useful for travelling) it's jeans baggy cotton or linen shirt and cotton or merino wool sweater and leather shoes or boots and that doesn't matter if I am in the front or the back of the plane - I find it comfortable and thats what matters - even if I do look like a walking Ralph Lauren advert at times

  13. K.M.

    a few years ago i flew NRT-PVG with delta (i think the flight is discontinued now) and i had delta gold status. i requested an upgrade online prior to the flight and it was cleared so i was bumped from economy to comfort plus. I wore a shirt and sweat pants and running shoes because it was october where the weather was chilly but not super cold. at the gate i got a paper ticket...

    a few years ago i flew NRT-PVG with delta (i think the flight is discontinued now) and i had delta gold status. i requested an upgrade online prior to the flight and it was cleared so i was bumped from economy to comfort plus. I wore a shirt and sweat pants and running shoes because it was october where the weather was chilly but not super cold. at the gate i got a paper ticket and put it in my passport and boarded the flight and sat in my assigned seat not looking at my ticket i received at the gate but one of the flight attendants came to me and said another person was supposed to sit in my seat. i opened my passport and looked at my ticket and saw i got bumped at the gate to first class due to economy plus being overbooked. i was totally unprepared to "dress the part" of first class but TBH i didn't care at all haha.

  14. H.V.

    Honestly, I could not care less. In the end I am the paying customer (usually flying for work too) and my priority is to be comfortable on a long-haul and not to dress up like I was entering a crucial business meeting. A suit is a no no to me on any flight longer than 3-4 hours. Usually sweats without logos and sneakers will do the part. If its a redeye you will anyway spend more than half of the flight below a comforter were no one can see you.

  15. Lara S.

    I don't care what anyone wears, though I will say I do admire someone who puts together a good travel outfit! It's funny, I am actually more likely to dress up a little on international first class than business class precisely because they will give me pajamas to change into. I can wear a cute dress and comfie wedges since I know I can take them off and change into pajamas. In business class, which...

    I don't care what anyone wears, though I will say I do admire someone who puts together a good travel outfit! It's funny, I am actually more likely to dress up a little on international first class than business class precisely because they will give me pajamas to change into. I can wear a cute dress and comfie wedges since I know I can take them off and change into pajamas. In business class, which many times does not have pajamas handed out, I am more likely to wear soft pants and a stretchy cute shirt with a cute jacket or stretchy jeans and shirt if I can manage to bring my own pajama bottoms to change into. I don't love the athlesiure trend only because I think it can so often look sloppy and I prefer to be a little more tidy. ON the other hand one of my favorite jackets to wear when I travel (because it breathes in hot weather) is an embroidered linen jacket that gets wrinkled fairly easily that I ask the flight attendants to hang up when possible. So I am sure I have done my fair share of walking with wrinkles!!

  16. tebriggs

    Most of my flying is for work, so that determines my choice more than anything. Domestically I'm usually going straight to a meeting when I land so it's dress pants, dress shirt, and blazer. For international flights or when I'm flying in the evening it's jeans, nice t-shirt, and usually the same blazer. Since I don't want to take any more clothes than necessary I try to make sure I can mix what I bring....

    Most of my flying is for work, so that determines my choice more than anything. Domestically I'm usually going straight to a meeting when I land so it's dress pants, dress shirt, and blazer. For international flights or when I'm flying in the evening it's jeans, nice t-shirt, and usually the same blazer. Since I don't want to take any more clothes than necessary I try to make sure I can mix what I bring. Some of my colleagues look like homeless bums when they fly, and we all end up in first class together as often as not, with no discernable difference in service. We do all keep our shoes on though, which seems to be the main thing that bugs people these days.

  17. gougoul

    I have to say *most* americans have a very weird way to get dressed....
    They overshoot for Valentine or this kind of events, and the rest of the time it's more like anything comfy will do the job.
    I understand people put practicality above seduction (or self esteem) but a backpack, cargo trousers for men and -yes way too- skinny leggins for ladies and the likes is usually enough to know where people...

    I have to say *most* americans have a very weird way to get dressed....
    They overshoot for Valentine or this kind of events, and the rest of the time it's more like anything comfy will do the job.
    I understand people put practicality above seduction (or self esteem) but a backpack, cargo trousers for men and -yes way too- skinny leggins for ladies and the likes is usually enough to know where people are from.
    In any place where you're not alone there's no way anything under "be the best you can" can be accepted.

  18. Wilhelm

    Being clean and wearing clean clothes is surprisingly hard for a lot of people.

    As to what to wear:
    1) Being comfortable does not mean you have to wearing sweats. Taste is subjective, but I prefer to look at least somewhat professional. That could be a shirt and slacks, but also T-shirt and jeans.
    2) Sensible shoes. In case of evacuation, flip flops, sandals and high heels are not ideal. The two former...

    Being clean and wearing clean clothes is surprisingly hard for a lot of people.

    As to what to wear:
    1) Being comfortable does not mean you have to wearing sweats. Taste is subjective, but I prefer to look at least somewhat professional. That could be a shirt and slacks, but also T-shirt and jeans.
    2) Sensible shoes. In case of evacuation, flip flops, sandals and high heels are not ideal. The two former do not protect you against filthy floors either, be it in a bathroom or elsewhere.
    3) PJs do not belong in public. They’re fine for sleeping on a plane, but not at other times.
    4) Dress according to your body.
    5) Remember where you’re flying to. You might have boarded in tropical heat, but your destination is in the middle of winter. This is even more crucial if you potentially have to dig your car out. A T-shirt, shorts and flip flops are not ideal.
    6) Always bring a change of clothes in your carryon, even for short flights. Your luggage might get lost, shops may be closed or not available at your destination or you might spill or have other accidents.

  19. Rainer

    I will wear exactly the same no matter if coach, coach+, business or first. Short distance or long haul.
    Clear Jeans or chinos, a polo shirt and sneakers.
    I'm polite towards the staff and the people sitting around me and will not disturb anybody.
    Besides that I don't care and I dare anybody else to do so ;-)

  20. Antonio

    Nobody pointed out that all FA's have a tablet where Passenger, Name, Status, trips made and possibly more sensitive information inside. I've travelled in paid F heading to the airport after a savage night out in shirt, jeans , and red eyes and I got perfectly cared of, Others in Armani suit in discounted/awrds fares and I'm less noticed

    Realize bunch of snobs, nobody cares about you but your money, and if you think the opposite you are very naive

  21. Fathiss

    When I fly long haul international first class I immediately put on the PJs when I board and keep them on until about 45 minutes prior to landing. I do the same in business class.
    I’ve never really given any consideration to what others are wearing.

  22. Sean M.

    Three comments :

    1) People tend to dress to their perception of the occasion. Those who fly weekly or thereabouts find it routine and hence wear their routine apparel. Those who fly less often perceive it as a special event and dress up accordingly. That's a wonderful thing to see such diverse perceptions of the same activity.

    2) Dress how you want to be treated. If you wear a suit on the flight, expect to...

    Three comments :

    1) People tend to dress to their perception of the occasion. Those who fly weekly or thereabouts find it routine and hence wear their routine apparel. Those who fly less often perceive it as a special event and dress up accordingly. That's a wonderful thing to see such diverse perceptions of the same activity.

    2) Dress how you want to be treated. If you wear a suit on the flight, expect to be addressed as "Sir" and "Mister so-and-so" by those you interact with. If you wear a T-shirt and sweats, expect a more casual approach. Again, to each their own. My personal preference is a dark polo shirt with slacks and that gets me the level of friendly interaction that I am comfortable with.

    3) If you ever have to question whether what you are wearing would be appropriate in a public setting, you will probably be uncomfortable with other people's perception of you wearing that outfit anyway. When in doubt, err on the side of dressing up rather than down, and that advice is not just for airplanes.

    Boomer out.

  23. RTBones

    As Randy mentioned, most corporate travel security will advise when traveling on business to dress down, avoid logos on clothing, that sort of thing so as not to draw attention to yourself. Even if you are traveling up front, you'll blend in with everyone else traveling up front.

    From a clothing perspective, for me there are three basic rules - be comfortable, be clean, and respect the culture where you are flying.

  24. TranceXplant

    Dressing up for a flight is silly. But it's never a bad idea to make a good (casual) first impression. After all, when things go wrong and decisions are being made, human nature is such that little things like appearance and demeanor can make a big difference in the way you're perceived and treated.

  25. Alain MIllett

    I either travel business long haul or economy short haul. (Up to 3 hours) and I wear the same when I travel.

    Closed shoes normally loafers, black dress jeans or chinos, a collared shirt often short sleeved, as I often travel in tropical climes.

    Sometimes I will change into a T-shirt on board but change back into a shirt for arrival.

    I remember wearing your Sunday beat when you travelled, but agree that comfort...

    I either travel business long haul or economy short haul. (Up to 3 hours) and I wear the same when I travel.

    Closed shoes normally loafers, black dress jeans or chinos, a collared shirt often short sleeved, as I often travel in tropical climes.

    Sometimes I will change into a T-shirt on board but change back into a shirt for arrival.

    I remember wearing your Sunday beat when you travelled, but agree that comfort is important these days..

    I do find that dressing well gets you good service and ran easy transit thru security , immigration and customs !!

    I dislike men travelling in singlets , I don’t want to exposed to smelly armpits without any barrier , equally shorts on both men and woman

  26. JDS

    A few years ago, I was flying from JFK to LHR on Virgin Atlantic in PE. The lady at bag drop actually complimented me on how I was dressed, but didn’t give me any upgrades!

  27. Dan Nainan

    A few years ago I was flying JFK to Dublin on Delta. When I checked in at the ticket counter, I wore my suit and tie, and for no reason, the agent upgraded me to first class. I'm pretty sure it's because I was wearing a suit, and also because I was speaking to her in French when I found out she speaks.

    Once I got to the Sky Club, I tore off my suit and put on my usual T-shirt, sweats and sneakers and enjoyed my flat bed seat.

  28. Dan Nainan

    How about you wear what you want, and give others the freedom to wear what they want? Last time I checked, this is a democracy and not North Korea.

  29. Rita

    I admit it: I love getting dressed up. I'm retired now, so all I wear every day at home & around town are the same jeans and tops. Unless I go out to dinner or on a trip.
    I also admit it: I like looking nice in public. I admire how other people look (including strangers) when they look great. And I can be critical of people when they look like slobs. I think...

    I admit it: I love getting dressed up. I'm retired now, so all I wear every day at home & around town are the same jeans and tops. Unless I go out to dinner or on a trip.
    I also admit it: I like looking nice in public. I admire how other people look (including strangers) when they look great. And I can be critical of people when they look like slobs. I think it's about self-respect.
    So, although I wouldn't necessarily fly wearing a business suit, hoisery and high heels the way I did decades ago on my first trip abroad when I was 16 years old, I still wear something a bit special on the plane, and I make myself look "put together" at the same time, even though the fabrics might be wrinkle resistant.

  30. Endre

    What triggered you? Weird article..,

    1. Sir Walter Raleigh

      Probably ran out of content from hiding his traveling to virtue signal to other democrats.

  31. Randy

    Corporate security tells people to dress down on business travel. Blend in with the rest of the passengers to avoid being singled out.

    My observation when in International F - particularly QF F - some of the younger travelers look like back packers and dress as such. You know they paid for it, since I am traveling on 2 reward sets. And QF doesn't issue more than 2, and more recently only 1. Very rich people have children, and they travel in incognito in F.

    1. Bandmeeting

      How can you blend in and avoid being singled out when you are in the front end of the airplane in a waaaayy more comfortable seat than the herd in the back? You could be dressed in a potato sack but everyone knows you are in a vastly different level of service.

  32. INS Vikrant

    I work in big tech and most of my J travel is for work.

    Flew JAL, Cathay, Singapore, and others in paid J or upgraded F wearing a tshirt. I wore flip flops and beach shorts and got upgraded to F once.

    Dress for your comfort, physically and mentally. Some of my peers “dressed up” to button down + jeans since they felt out of place flying J otherwise. I understand that point as well.

    1. INS Vikrant

      I’ll add, FA’s didn’t seem to care or notice how I dressed and I didn’t notice poor or lower service for my attire. I think the things that influence service are generally: Individual crew > airline standards > PAX attitude.

      I certainly received warmer service than the rude Russian family dressed in suits who I shared the F cabin with on CX HKG -> SFO once!

    2. Eskimo

      Not trying to relate this with Gavin Newsom anymore?

    3. INS Vikrant

      @Eskimo - not since it’s not relevant here.

      You must be pleased that your party stole another election.

    4. Eskimo

      Wait, my party? Do you even know who I voted for?

      Maybe I voted for Sharad Pawar. Maybe I voted for Sachin Tendulkar.
      Maybe I voted for Harambe. Maybe I live in a state where I can vote no one. Maybe I lived in a state where they publish votes, like few of these in 2020.

      CTHULHU
      RONALD REAGAN
      JOE ROGAN/ELON MUSK
      DWIGHT D EISENHAUER
      BAROCK OBAMA
      A SCJWAMZEMEGGER

      I wonder if the voters for the last 3 names can't spell are these weirdos really exists.

  33. Jerry

    Dressing up to fly, regardless of class, has always seemed silly to me.

  34. JDS

    What do you wear in the lounge? Do you dress smarter and change once on board, or does the sweats and comfy sweater cover the entire journey? Some lounges do have dress codes.

  35. John

    I don't usually follow advice from the Spice Girls, but I like 'Posh Spice's' (Victoria Beckham) method. She's immaculately dressed when passing thru the airport and onto the plane. After an hour or so, she slips into an equally stylish but more comfortable 'home' type clothes. Just before arrival she changes back into the original outfit. This method can work you, regardless of sex or age. At minimum, avoid looking like a slob if you can help it.

    1. jcil

      I’m wondering what the overlap is between the slobs that wear pajamas and flip flops on a plane and the mask and vax karen’s. My guess the same ones that say I can wear whatever I want on a flight are also some of the same ones that will go apoplectic at the thought of some deciding they don’t want to wear a mask or get vaxed.

  36. Caroline

    It wasn't that long ago that airlines would use your appearance before determining you could be upgraded. I was told this directly by the ticketing lady who upgraded me bc I was wearing a blazer. This was before the robust rewards program but not that long ago. Maybe 10-15 years

  37. Eskimo

    I guess no one is playing the "my body, my choice" card yet.

    Let's get political and boost post counts!!!

  38. Ed

    I generally wear a jacket on the plane. Two reasons, I like an inside pocket for my passport and boarding card. The best way to have a nice looking jacket at you destination is to hand it to the cabin crew to hang up during the journey.

    1. Rich

      Exactly what I do. I only take a sports cost but always get it hung up.

  39. Donna

    I’m traveling for business 95% of the time and I normally wear a button down shirt and nice darker wash jeans and sometimes leggings and a sweater depending on the climate and where I’m going. I never wear airline pajamas on a plane. I travel usually two to three weeks at a time with just carryon luggage but I utilize laundry options along the way to keep everything fresh. Like Lucky, I don’t care what...

    I’m traveling for business 95% of the time and I normally wear a button down shirt and nice darker wash jeans and sometimes leggings and a sweater depending on the climate and where I’m going. I never wear airline pajamas on a plane. I travel usually two to three weeks at a time with just carryon luggage but I utilize laundry options along the way to keep everything fresh. Like Lucky, I don’t care what other people wear as long as they have good hygiene and don’t stink. In the past seven years that I’ve been flying F and J, I haven’t noticed a lot of gym clothes and flip flops in those cabins. On the domestic side, I see a lot of business and business casual attire and on the International flights, more relaxed casual, but not much gym or lounging clothing. I have, however, seen people boarding domestic economy seats looking like they’ve just rolled out of bed and wore their pajamas to the airport.

  40. beachmouse

    PrAna’s Halle (women’s) or Zion (men’s) stretch khakis can work from a hiking trail to ‘smart casual’ if you wear a nice top with them, are wrinkle-free, extremely comfortable, and nearly indestructible.

  41. MoGreen

    People dressed up for a plane ride 40-50 years ago for many reasons.
    - Flying was incredibly expensive , so many people only flew once every few years , so it was a major event, and worth getting dressed up for. After flying 2MM miles , well over that point
    - It was the norm to dress up for everyday life , especially for office , so wearing a suit and tie was...

    People dressed up for a plane ride 40-50 years ago for many reasons.
    - Flying was incredibly expensive , so many people only flew once every few years , so it was a major event, and worth getting dressed up for. After flying 2MM miles , well over that point
    - It was the norm to dress up for everyday life , especially for office , so wearing a suit and tie was your normal outfit , not a special occasion , and if you flew for business , you were wearing a suit
    I have never, ever thought of about a different outfit for a different class of service , since I never check a bag , it is always a strategic decision of what is comfortable and what cannot be jammed into my wheelie

  42. MildMidwesterner

    Athleisure wear is tacky anywhere other than the gym. A collared shirt or sweater and long pants should be the bare minimum in business and first class. Ball caps should never be worn indoors, and that carries over to airplanes. Too many grown men dress like boys, and it's tough to take them seriously.

    1. Bratty

      Ok gramps. Now sip your Ensure slowly so you dont choke.

    2. D3kingg

      Think about it. Plenty of people in their 40s and 50s wearing sweatpants and hoodies. It’s 2021.

    3. Mike

      Wow are you serious? Who cares what people are wearing as long as their parts aren't hanging out, haha! How is wearing a hat outdoors different than indoors? Dressing up doesn't make you a "man". Take a look around at all these extremely successful companies run by younger adults. You don't see many suits and ties around on a day-to-day basis. People these days appreciate a casual and comfortable environment whether it's at work or...

      Wow are you serious? Who cares what people are wearing as long as their parts aren't hanging out, haha! How is wearing a hat outdoors different than indoors? Dressing up doesn't make you a "man". Take a look around at all these extremely successful companies run by younger adults. You don't see many suits and ties around on a day-to-day basis. People these days appreciate a casual and comfortable environment whether it's at work or on an airplane. Now that I work from home, it is extremely rare for me to wear anything nicer than jeans and a t-shirt and even that's rare. All gym clothes for me unless I'm going on a date with my wife.

    4. Dan Nainan

      How about you wear what you want, and give others the freedom to wear what they want? Last time I checked, this is a democracy and not North Korea.

    5. Dan Nainan

      Sorry that shouldn't be here, I already replied to, below with this, but for some reason it got duplicated here.

    6. Marco

      Funny, you sounded like the people that on Sunday go to church with hat, flashy colours , umbrella and old shoes BUT very clean... Midwest is lets say Milwaukee???? A world known fashion hot spot

  43. James

    And don't take a cologne or perfume bath before heading to the airport. You're not going to the club.

  44. TrekTrendy

    It's a fascinating topic and one I didn't realise i'd be dealing with daily. I run an airline review YouTube channel and experience hate all the time down to me wearing what many deem "overly relaxed attire". I'm with you on the simple fact, airlines actively encourage you to change into their lounge wear... but still doesn't stop the "you dress like you're homeless", "you shouldn't be allowed onboard wearing sweatpants". Crazy how passionate some...

    It's a fascinating topic and one I didn't realise i'd be dealing with daily. I run an airline review YouTube channel and experience hate all the time down to me wearing what many deem "overly relaxed attire". I'm with you on the simple fact, airlines actively encourage you to change into their lounge wear... but still doesn't stop the "you dress like you're homeless", "you shouldn't be allowed onboard wearing sweatpants". Crazy how passionate some are about this non existent dress code

    1. Mike

      What is your channel? I am interested in checking it out.

    2. David

      @Mike

      I'm gonna take a wild guess and assume it's called Trek Trendy.

    3. TrekTrendy

      aha yes David - Trek Trendy (and no self promo intended).

  45. Ed

    You started half of a shameless plug for your preferred brand of athleisure wear. Please finish it. I'm in the market to buy some!

    1. Action Jackson

      We know he wears lulu

  46. D3kingg

    If i'm flying a once in a life time international first class flight I’ll wear business attire. Otherwise business casual. Nowadays with tsa pre check , priority , I usually dress business casual at a minimum. Why not ? My upgrades clear 90% on American since the pandemic.

  47. DCS

    Loose-fitting sweat or cargo pants and a matching hoodie , with a t-shirt under the hoodie. Keeps me comfortable, while also allowing me to avoid doing something I hate with a passion: changing into PJs!

  48. iv

    Lululemon clothing is super comfortable, easy washing and drying too.

  49. John

    You don't have to dress up. FAs don't care if you're wearing a $10K outfit or just t-shirts and jeans. They only care if you treat them with respect and not as a personal servant. Just be polite instead of being a douche.

    Class is not about what you wear, it's about how you treat others. Obviously don't be a slob and wear unclean clothes that stinks!

    1. Brodie

      Best reply yet. It’s how you carry yourself and nobody gives a fuk what you are wearing, outside of drawing attention to yourself.
      Ben, big fan but this is your shittiest post ever.

  50. Josh

    Since I pretty much only fly business/first class on long-haul domestic flights which are usually 10+ hours and often red-eyes, I almost always wear my favorite pajama pants with a comfortable t-shirt (including on Emirates First!). While I used to change once I've boarded, I've switched to going to the airport dressed comfortably because, well, I'm not trying to impress anyone. :-)

  51. William Mackay

    I always delight in wearing shabby trainers and a hoodie in first, anyone flying in a suit is trying too hard. Plus you're putting the pyjamas on at some point anyway.

    1. RG1X

      I think I must be odd, I've never switched to the PJs in first. I'm quite comfortable in what I'm wearing when I get on the flight, and I rarely sleep.

  52. Chris

    What are these comfy pants you speak of?!

    1. MoGreen

      Lululemon ABC pants , best out there , and the ABC part is really true

  53. Dan Nainan

    If I’m paying for first class, I can wear whatever I want. I just flew first class in a cubicle on Delta and was wearing shorts, a T-shirt and sneakers l.

Featured Comments Load all 76 comments Most helpful comments ( as chosen by the OMAAT community ).

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Rita

I admit it: I love getting dressed up. I'm retired now, so all I wear every day at home & around town are the same jeans and tops. Unless I go out to dinner or on a trip. I also admit it: I like looking nice in public. I admire how other people look (including strangers) when they look great. And I can be critical of people when they look like slobs. I think it's about self-respect. So, although I wouldn't necessarily fly wearing a business suit, hoisery and high heels the way I did decades ago on my first trip abroad when I was 16 years old, I still wear something a bit special on the plane, and I make myself look "put together" at the same time, even though the fabrics might be wrinkle resistant.

Sean M.

Three comments : 1) People tend to dress to their perception of the occasion. Those who fly weekly or thereabouts find it routine and hence wear their routine apparel. Those who fly less often perceive it as a special event and dress up accordingly. That's a wonderful thing to see such diverse perceptions of the same activity. 2) Dress how you want to be treated. If you wear a suit on the flight, expect to be addressed as "Sir" and "Mister so-and-so" by those you interact with. If you wear a T-shirt and sweats, expect a more casual approach. Again, to each their own. My personal preference is a dark polo shirt with slacks and that gets me the level of friendly interaction that I am comfortable with. 3) If you ever have to question whether what you are wearing would be appropriate in a public setting, you will probably be uncomfortable with other people's perception of you wearing that outfit anyway. When in doubt, err on the side of dressing up rather than down, and that advice is not just for airplanes. Boomer out.

Bratty

Ok gramps. Now sip your Ensure slowly so you dont choke.

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