9 Things NOT to Wear on an Airplane Trip

Find out how you can spare yourself and your neighbors some unnecessary discomfort and nuisance when travelling by air -- just by watching what you wear.

Whether you’re flying short or long-haul, night or day, there are things to consider when deciding what or what not to wear on a plane. There are the long queues at airport security checks, shifting temperatures inside the plane’s cabin, and the climate in the place of your destination. Other things to think about are the nature and venue of the activity you’re planning to go to upon landing — will you be going straight to a business meeting upon arrival? Making a connection to another flight? Proceeding to your hotel? Visiting with some friends?

Keep in mind that if you’re on a long-haul flight, lasting through the night and crossing continents, climate and time zones, you’re going to have to consider your comfort. Unless you’re flying in business class, you’ll be confined for many hours in a cramped seat and subjected to whatever temperature the cabin air-conditioners will be set on.

You’ll want something casual and relaxed, yet presentable to people.

Although we’re told not to judge a book by its cover, it’s a well-known fact that when it comes to character, people tend to pre-judge others based on appearance. In the business as well as public arena, well-dressed people usually get better service and kinder response from others.

Here are 9 ways to keep yourself – and even others – comfortable during the many hours you’ll be spending in the air, just by what you’re NOT wearing.

1. Clothing That’s Too Warm Or Too Cold


Throughout your journey there’s a good chance you’ll find yourself in different situations with varying degrees of temperatures: queuing in the sunny, crowded terminal while checking in your luggage or going through security checks, stewing inside a cabin as your plane sits in the hot tarmac while waiting to take off, and maybe shuddering as air-conditioners start spewing cold air upon lift-off. Layering clothes is key.

Some planes can be too warm and some too chilly, so be prepared to either put something on or take it off. Keep a shawl, a wrap, a cardigan, thin sweater, hoodie or a light jacket and a pair of socks in your carry-on in case it gets too frigid and an airline blanket won’t suffice. Layering works great when you’re travelling from hot to cold climates, too, and vice versa. If you find no need for that sweater, you’ll be happy you brought it anyway when it doubles up as an improvised pillow.

2. Stiff, Binding Garments

Unless you’re flying for just a few hours or are going straight to a business meeting upon landing, give prime consideration to your comfort – especially if you’re on a long-haul, night flight on economy class; you’ll want to be as comfortable as you can when the lights are dimmed and you start to get drowsy. Choose soft, wrinkle-free, loose or stretchy clothes that will move with you and allow you to slump in your seat or curl up — without looking dishevelled when you wake up.

Tight clothes can restrict circulation and cause deep vein thrombosis (DVT), or blood clots to form in the deep veins of the body – especially the legs. Leave those girdles and skinny jeans at home and go for comfy garments like loose, flowing skirts and straight- or wide-leg pants.

If you intend on sleeping through the night, bring a T-shirt and some leggings, track or yoga pants in your carry-on to change into. You’ll sleep better and keep your business/travel attire looking fresh and wrinkle-free when you change back into them in the morning.

3. Complicated Accessories And Fashion Wear

Avoid chunky, clunky jewelry; earrings fastened with screws; belts, boots and jackets with metal studs; even shoes that have a lot of laces, straps, zips or buttons. You don’t want to be oblivious of them and sound off the alarm every time you pass airport security, or else hold up the line with the time it takes for you to divest yourself of each one of them.

4. High Heels


Not only will they hamper your balance in case you’re walking down the aisle and the plane hits some turbulence, they’re also uncomfortable and totally useless – even potentially dangerous – should an emergency water landing occur and you’d have to use the inflatable slides. (Heaven forbid!)

Instead, wear comfortable, non-restrictive shoes that are easy to slip on and off when you’re ready to stretch out or curl up. Ballet flats, loafers and sneakers work great.

Comfortable shoes will also make it easy for you to walk and window-shop around the airport in case your flight gets delayed, breeze through security checks or sprint to the terminal gate if you have to make a connection.

5. Light-colored Clothes

Smears, spills, stains and creases are more easily camouflaged in darker tones. Heavy prints do the trick as well. If you’re a frequent traveller, you’re most likely aware of the unpleasant possibility of losing your luggage. So be wary of the likelihood that you’d have to wear the same set of clothes the next day; light colors are prone to get dirty more easily

6. Strong Fragrances


Go easy on the perfume, cologne or strong-smelling deodorant. Odors are intensified in enclosed places; in cabins where passengers are packed like sardines and air is merely re-circulated, your cabin-mates won’t appreciate you for it. Scent is highly subjective. What smells sweet to someone may be nauseating to another. Worse, it could trigger allergic reactions for people with asthma. Better just skip the fragrance. At best, take a shower, and at the very least, wear freshly washed clothes.

7. Inappropriate Or Provocative Attire

Avoid anything that’s potentially offensive to people, be it their political, religious, moral or ethnic beliefs. Low-cut blouses, hanging tank tops and short shorts (otherwise known as “denim underwear”) are not only unsuitable but are downright impractical when you have to reach up to stow or get your bag from the overhead cabin. Best to leave them at home or at the beach. Also, avoid junk t-shirts with slogans that carry strong political statements, controversial words or anything that has the tendency to raise eyebrows in public.

8. Synthetic Fibers

Except perhaps during winter, avoid garments that don’t breathe like nylon, leatherette or waterproof fabrics. They hold perspiration on the skin and prevent air and moisture from passing through the cloth. Go for cotton, silk, linen, leather or wool.

9. Flip-flops


Be neighbourly. While prioritizing comfort, try to keep the sensibilities of your seatmates in mind. Unless your feet are gloriously beautiful and immaculately clean, wouldn’t they mind your wearing open-toed sandals and seeing (or worse, smelling) your feet for the next so many hours? If you MUST wear flip-flops – to avoid swollen feet and ankles, which tend to happen on long flights, by the way – try keeping your feet down or away from people’s view. Better yet, bring a pair of socks to put on if you can’t help putting your feet up. Being considerate of others in such a small space can go a long way and can actually make or break someone’s day.

The key is to be comfortable yet classy. Airports and airplanes are public places where we encounter all sorts of people. The least we could do is treat each other nicely, and present ourselves in a respectable way. Let’s keep it classy, shall we?

About the author

JD Lara

JD is a former travel writer-producer for TV. Now a work-from-home mom, she lives in a homestead with animals, fruit trees and a vegetable garden. She’d still love to travel but since family and farming have become priorities, she’s content with just armchair traveling via the internet.

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