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I had a few interesting comments over the weekend regarding dress code when flying first class. I am a laid-back guy and was wearing a pretty Dan-typical outfit of shorts and a T-shirt on our Emirates First Class Dubai to JFK flight
I got a few interesting comments on that
Can’t you dress up a bit more for that flight? You can’t wear a t shirt
Can’t buy class….. not even with miles.
My response was something along the lines of “haven’t you seen The Wedding Singer? First Class passengers can do whatever they want!”
So while I’m not particularly worried about random Internet commenters and their assumptions of my “class”, I did wonder what others have done or consider “proper”
History of airline dress codes
Sure, back in the day, EVERYONE was wearing suits and other “fancy clothes” when flying ANY class of airplane. I think that ship has sailed long ago. Especially given security lines, you see many people in the airport in flip flops and snuggies nowadays.
I do remember my first and only time flying on a flight attendant friend’s “buddy pass” (nearly 15 years ago). She let us know that one of the “rules” of flying on the buddy pass is that we had to dress up, so we did.
Do you dress up in first class?
I have now flown first class (using miles and points) 3 times, all as part of my recent first class round the world trip
(SEE ALSO: Upgrading to first class – the best 80 cents* I ever spent!)
(SEE ALSO: Learn more on which cards earn you miles and points here)
- Japan Airlines first class from Chicago to Tokyo (pictured below)
- Help! I’m “stuck” in Emirates First class on ONLY a 777!!!
- Emirates A380 first class review Dubai to New York
I’ve also flown business class a few times
- Cathay Pacific Business Class Review: Hong Kong to Singapore
- Japan Airlines Business Class review – Tokyo to Hong Kong
Though my very first business class trip on Aer Lingus from Boston to Dublin ended up canceled while I was sitting on the tarmac!
Each time I was wearing more or less the same clothes (shorts and a T-shirt). Not to mention for many of those long-haul flights, I ended up wearing the complimentary airline pajamas for a good chunk of the flight anyways.
So I want to hear your experiences. If you’ve flown first (or business) class, what do you typically wear, and what do you think is an “acceptable” dress code for flying premium cabin?
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No, I wear what I want. I kind of enjoy it when a gate agent makes a snarky comment like, “Maam, this line is for first class only” and then realizes how out of line they were.
LOL – I had that happen to me on my last trip in I believe Singapore. There was a huge line for economy boarding and as Carolyn and I walked right past it to get into the premium cabin boarding someone tried to stop us till we flashed our BPs 🙂
I normally dress well, so I make no exception when traveling. I wear comfortable but fashionable and good quality shoes, a nice non wrinkle usually black pair of pants, a nice comfortable blouse and a warm nice sweater. Also a scarf if it gets too cold and I sometimes change into a long sleeve tshirt for sleeping. I believe it is important to always look your best.
I’ve never worn a t-shirt on a plane. I don’t know, I know it’s all a personal preference thing but when I see people in sweats and literally wearing a neck pillow, I feel sorry about their life choices. It’s also soooo American to wear a t-shirt on a plane (I am one, FYI) and I always find it slightly off putting when you’re transiting LHR or somewhere and can spot the American’s from a mile away — and get kind of embarrassed on behalf of your nation.
It’s nice to look like when you’re traveling. You 100% get treated better — and especially in a premium cabin. I always change into PJs given on board, but I feel like that’s a carve-out to the rule because it’s uniform and everyone is keeping their clothes nice in the process.
Wow, sorry about “life choices” that someone makes. No idea how their fashion choices translate into life choices. I commonly wear yoga pants and a baggy t-shirt for long haul flights (in business) and I have a ph.d. My life choices have been going pretty well so far. I end up getting to the same destination as you do, in the same amount of time. I’m comfortable and not spending my time judging you for your life choices and time spent deciding what to wear on a flying metal tube filled with complete strangers you will never see again.
The way you present yourself is one of your life choices. And, I’m sorry, but looking like a slobby American esp. traveling internationally, is just kind of just another example of typical American devil-may-care, my-way-or-the-highway attitude.
And re your comment about the time it takes to look presentable in public, whether or not you’ll ever see those complete strangers again, believe me — it doesn’t take much.
And it’s a life choice that affects no one but me. If the way I dress somehow negatively impacts your day or your vacation, then wow…sorry. So long as I am not showing inappropriate skin (i.e., nipples or my buttocks) then it does not matter.
I want to be comfortable when I am sitting in a flying tube for 10+ hours and that comfort involves stretchy pants without buttons and a nice comfy/baggy t-shirt.
You asked for opinions but you fail to show respect when they are not favourable to you, which may explain for the way you present yourself.
Those photos remind me of someone entering a hotel lounge in their slippers; There is a place to wear slippers and the guest was kindly informed the lounge was not among those places; Later they presented themselves much better.
Smart casual is/should be as comfortable but much more polite, also as a courtesy to others. A shirt/polo shirt along with a nice pair of jeans/social pants or even social long shorts, if traveling between hot climates, would be acceptable, with smart shoes. Also, in premium cabins one can walk in dressing quite smart and afterwards use the lavatories to change to PJs or any other appropriate garment, along with slippers to endure the +10 hour flight.
It is FIRST Class, it does not mean it is one’s OWN class.
I’m not sure where I (Dan, the writer of this post) have not shown respect to opinions that are unfavorable to me? Is there a specific thing I said that you felt was not respectful?
Right, and the main point is that there is not a dress code on flights. Until there is, individuals can wear what they are comfortable in. I don’t even know what social shorts are (I don’t own a single pair of shorts) and I don’t dress business casual on a flight (shoot, my job doesn’t even require business casual).
The whole clothing thing always makes me shake my head. People get in such a tizzy about it. You wear what you wear and I’ll wear what I wear. At the end of the day it won’t matter. Your clothing won’t solve world hunger or make the world a better place. My clothing won’t make it a worse place. If my clothing somehow detracts from your experience, then stop looking at me or thinking about me. Or, better yet, engage me in a conversation and you’ll find out that there are some pretty smart, engaging people who don’t conform to your preconceived notions of what “class” is.
Great reply. Your “life choice” reflects lack of decorum. I am sure you paid for these tickets so you could fly in t shirts and jeans. It does reflect on the person you are in many ways. I fly (paid) 100+ K annually on business all FC and I find it distasteful for find slobs up front, I asked one sitting next to me and sure enough reward seat ( CC) not even earned flying.
We when on vacation (FC) dress appropriately.
love it ME, you sound just like me!
The correct spelling of your degree is Ph.D.
Oh gee, thanks for correcting my capitalization. I was on my phone and typing quickly. But, again, the correction is greatly appreciated and contributes greatly to the discussion.
*That’s sarcasm. In case you couldn’t pick up on that.
It was just that you apparently felt the need to justify your “life choices” by citing your degree, but without providing its relevance. I thought it was quite amusing that you mis-spelled your degree, while providing appropriate capitalization of other letters in your comment. It might just be me but it gave the impression that your relaxed attitude to your dress extends to your communication skills as well.
These are just my observations and musings. I intend no sarcasm or insults as they truly do not make any constructive contribution to any discussion.
I used to get much more worked up over people’s spelling and grammatical errors, but since the use of typing on phones and/or autocorrect became much more prevalent, I’m more inclined to give people a break. When you’re typing fast on a phone, it’s a lot harder to make sure every their/they’re/there, your/you’re and other spelling, capitalization and typos are all correct
Dressing like a hoodlum and drinking cheap beverages on a flight is not a good thing for all concerned and you should be very ashamed of yourself.
When my servants are pouring me my 2nd Massandra 1775 before breakfast, I have to decide whether to wear a suit and tie, a tuxedo or a wax jacket, flat cap and leather boots for my flight. I went for the Stefano Ricci tie in the end.
The maid spilt the bottle of Chateau Lafite the other morning when I was eating my Almas so I ordered her to clean it up with the Alexander Amosu suit since the vintage was worthy of more than a paultry cloth.
I sincerely hope that you make some better life choices in the future young man and look smart for your next flight.
I have to go now as my EasyJet flight is departing soon.
Professor W. Anker – PhD, EdD, DBA, DClinPsy, EngD, DSc, MPhil, MLitt, MRes, MA, MSc, MEng, MChem, MPhys, MPharm, MB ChB, MB BS, BM BS, BDS, BVSc, BVMS, MD.
This has made all the garbage conversations worth it all. You are a genius. Ill drink a nice pour of my macallan 25 for you good sir!
Totally agree with you, B. what you wear is a life choice. why dress like a slob when you are going to a dinner party?
As for commentro “ME”, wow… your argument is exactly the argument classless people make..
” why buy a ferrari or a benz, when i can driving a Kia and i get from A to B just like a ferrari”…
“i wear a t-shirt…it covers my body just like a $50k brioni suit… they serve the same purpose”
well, they are to tally different. the answer is: CLASS.
so when you fly 1st CLASS… dont dress like you are LOW CLASS.
Sure you arrogant, classless snob. Class has nothing to do with what you wear, drive or anything else. You can be rich and still down to earth. In reality, it’s people who don’t have any class that act like what you are portraying as class, entitled F#$&!!!
Has it occurred to any of you “high class” people that if a Middle class working person decides to splurge on a First class ticket, it might just be for a little extra elbow, leg and/ or ass room on the plane?
This thread is so OLD. I know I’m two years late BUT I 100% agree with B. The way you dress absolutely reflects your life choices. You have the choice between wearing something that looks “comfortable” meaning “nothing nice” and “classy” meaning “polished, pressed, clean and not the comfiest clothing you own.” It has to do with your upbringing. You dress for the occasion. People will always judge you on first impressions. Your choice of clothing reflects who you are. Your choice of how you present yourself reflects who you are. If flying first class, why would you not dress appropriately? Why would you want to stand out as the slob who got in for free?
I was assuming that this Dan, the writer who travels frequently would have had suggestions for me. I was wrong. I have a good sense of style and I was curious… regarding first class travel. Dan should have picked up on SOMETHING while flying so much. Why wear a t shirt like that? I dont get it. AT ALL. I feel like I may have an unfair advantage to some commenters who prefer casual attire and may not live in NYC. They may have very casual lifestyles. I don’t know.
Anyway, when flying first class, show respect to the people around you. Make an effort and dress nicely. If you want to be in sweats, go fly in the main cabin, no one will judge you there.
Don’t bring down the first class experience for everyone else. Just like you wouldn’t want a smelly bum at your wedding party. Yes, I said that. And it’s TRUE.
It would be nice if we could go back to those times when flying was an event and everyone dressed up. However that ship has sailed. When traveling I dress for comfort and ease – for sitting in tiny seats, using the tiny bathrooms, dealing with TSA. The only exception is if I am pressed for time and did not change before getting on the flight or having to race to a meeting as soon as I land. Otherwise, no dress clothes for me- I do not want to take the chance of them being spilled on, wrinkled, damaged (caught on various items in the cabin), stained, etc. Turbulence can cause many a spill.
That said, I do have a minimum of expectations for everyone regardless of class of service– relatively modest clean clothes, shoes of any sort that stay on your feet, deodorant and not drunk.
Keep in mind too sometimes you don’t know if you’re going to get the upgrade until you’re there, so should someone pass it up if they aren’t dressed to the nines? I don’t think so…
I didn’t draw attention to the mis-spelling of Ph.D. because I was playing at being a member of the grammar police. Rather, I was amused by the poster’s opinion of her advanced degree as sufficiently important to cite as evidence of her “life choices”, but not sufficiently important to spell correctly. I just thought it was rather ironic.
Hah, look at that – I replied to the wrong thread so now the egg’s on my face!
I wear what I want. I don’t care what others think of me in the less than 5 seconds that they glance at me. If someone looks longer than that and starts ruminating on what I’m wearing..,,well, there are bigger issues there. We’re not on a stage and if random strangers want to judge me for my fashion choices, then so be it.
The t-shirt under a t-shirt is more offensive than anything
The “tshirt under a tshirt” is his underwear. They are called garments, worn by active members of the Mormon church.
I would totally dress appropriately flying first class. Well I also dress appropriately when I fly economy. But when I am in economy I can see F class passengers dressed so well. Even something simple can be carried eloquently. Jus my personal preference. FYI I also noticed ur dress when u posted tat pic. But it’s ur personal choice, n m no one to comment
I agree with B. I think its more a matter of appropriate dress internationally then a matter of first class. Only Americans are wearing shorts, tshirts, or sweats. I try to dress in what is appropriate for the culture of where I am and the culture of international travel. I wouldn’t wear shorts/tshirt in economy on a flight to europe and i wouldn’t wear it in first/business. I wear jeans and a button down shirt. That’s a matter of personal taste of course.
Domestic FC, I could care less.
Int’l FC on an int’l carrier, I would wear something decently nice. Slacks/nice jeans with a button-down shirt.
Did anyone notice that I’m wearing the same shirt in both pictures, on two different flights?? Gasp! Yep, I had to do laundry on my trip and wore the same shirt twice. I’ve got class for miles. ha ha ha.
I did notice! But, I often rewear things on trips- like pants, shorts, to save space. So I assumed you were doing the same. Kudos to you for taking time to do laundry. It’s a great top too!
🙂 Thanks Brandi!
As someone (lawyer) who has to wear formal attire most days of his life, I always wear street clothes if I’m flying first class on a domestic leisure trip. Why? Because I want to – that’s part of the luxury of the day, for me. I don’t feel that the U.S. airlines have created a culture of respect that commands a departure from what I want to do in this regard – they rarely act particularly respectful to me, so why should I to them and their cabin? A long-sleeve t-shirt and any shoes with a closed toe is adequate deference. This attitude does not apply to international carriers, though, even in coach. It’s not so much about “not looking American” as it is about feeling obligated to look nicer based on the service I am receiving.
But Mike, you don’t wear 5 for $10 t-shirts from Chinatown in 1st class do you? you wear $150 t-shirt American Eagles or something right? Also personal hygiene too… shower, cologne, brush your teeth, comb your hair, etc……
you can still look classy in a t-shirt but not a $2, 5 year old tee that you have worn every other day….
I always try to dress appropriately in public, or according to the environment I am or will be in. Like how we dress or parties, night out, diner, or funeral, etc…. I do dress differently for different occasions…. So I also dress appropriately in first, business or whatever class I am in. but I do wear shirts and ties in 1st class, I will wear comfortable clothes but there will be high dollar comfortable clothes… simple but elegant clothes.
I think clean, modest clothes of any style are fine. I think what counts more is how you carry yourself. Are you polite? Do you act with class? Do you treat other with respect? If so, then who cares if you dress comfortably? People will judge you no matter what you do unfortunately.
I wholeheartedly agree Carolyn. I think people are somehow confounding clothing choices with manners and/or income. And, of course, somehow income is confounded with manners/”class” in the US. Is it better if I say that I wear Lululemon and spend $100+ on my baggy designer t-shirt? And I’m usually carrying a $1000+ handbag. I’m also highly educated, well read, unfailingly polite…oh, and not American (Canadian). Are my t-shirt, running shoes, and yoga pants OK now?
Yeah I think this was one of my sticking points from the 2 earlier comments. It’s fine if you want to say that I “shouldn’t” wear a T-shirt for whatever reason, but I didn’t think it was “right” to suggest that I have no class because of it. I mean, if you know me, you know there are plenty of actually VALID reasons to say that I have no class 🙂
sloppy t-shirt = no class.
there is no way around it.
Can’t agree with you more. I’ve seen many people dressed up in expensive designer shit treat people horribly. I’ve also seen plenty of nice people in t-shirts.
My dad wears a suit and shirt every day of the week, regardless of destination. He was walking around angkor watt in 100+ degree weather in his suit while I was dying in shorts and a t-shirt. Just because he thinks its classy, doesn’t mean EVERYONE should be obligated to do so. It’s like all Saudis thinking everyone should run around in a burka. I’d agree that you should wear appropriate clothes for wear you’re traveling, but getting all dolled up for my flight to kansas city or 35+ hours of flying to cambodia?
The vast majority of people I see dressed up in business class are business travelers. Frankly, I do it too if I am coming from work or going to work, but I’ll be damned if I’m going to wear my suit and tie on the airplane if I don’t have to. Not only does that stuff wrinkle, is uncomfortable generally since you get hot and sweaty, but you can’t carry a backpack well with a suit jacket on.
I wore my shorts and t-shirts (usually a polo) on emirates first and cathay first. When you land/take off in 100 degree weather, I’m not wearing jeans.
I’m not really a tee-shirt traveller (and I’m not American) but I don’t care if someone else is. Isn’t the issue really about where the flight is to/from and the time of said flight? I was quite happy in tailored shorts and a polo shirt in business on Qatar from Bangkok to Doha for example – it was hot outside! If I’d have been in First then I would have worn long trousers probably – only chinos etc. If I had been getting off the plane somewhere cooler then I’d have worn a jacket. Isn’t it just common sense/personal choice?
I think its a personal choice but that it reflects on you as a person. For example I can wear batman PJ pants and a camo t-shirt to my local rural walmart (really people do that near where I live) but….Do I want to be “that guy”. I shouldn’t be judgmental however I do think that what you wear reflects on you as a person. If I’m on a vacation trip flying in whatever cabin I usually wear jeans (winter) or shorts (summer) with a polo shirt or long sleeve shirt plus usually a light pull over so I’m in layers for comfort. If it’s an overnight flight I will bring a t-shirt and shorts to sleep in or will use the airline PJ’s although they aren’t really designed for tall people IMHO.
You know I just posted but remembered a podcast from Travis and his wife at EPOP on this from awhile back. He is a t-shirt guy and she has much more style.
If this is how you generally dress, so be it….. i think you would look better if you wore different clothes. Is this how how you dress for work?
If so fine….
you look like crap dressed like that…… i don’t understand the whole ” I want to be comfortable” do people find any other type of clothing so uncomfortable?
How about starting a movement to let the Flight Attendants wear what they prefer?
Uhhhh actually yes, generally this is how I dress for work :-).
ha ha ha dying laughing!
Dan, I think we’ve met at least 3 times, I’ve never seen you in anything other than a t-shirt… I dunno how you do it, even in the snow! There is something to be said for consistency!
You did NOTHING wrong. I travel in adidas pants and a comfortable t shirt whenever I fly. I personally have Crohn’s disease so I try to wear clothes that are comfortable as possible while flying since you are seated the entire time. Wearing dress slacks when your stomach isn’t feeling well isn’t much fun. Those people who made comments about it are either jealous they aren’t in the seat you are in, or have nothing better to do than comment on your behavior and need to get a life.
I believe it is important to dress up a little more when travelling in first or business class. A business-casual, button-down shirt over top of a t-shirt would suffice. At some point there is going to be an “over the line” moment….would a tank-top be okay? T-shirt with ripped cuffs? It’s funny to picture, but I’d think there is a point somewhere that it’s “too casual”.
I’ve been to several restaurants and golf clubs where a minimum dress code is enforced. Usually a collared shirt of some sort — polo or button-down. Not all-out suit. It’s never been a problem since I’m usually wearing that attire anyway.
Going to really pump up the controversy quotient here, but this t-shirt+shorts style is reflective of the same ‘in my living room’ approach taken to the earlier objection’s about your kids being too noisy on a flight. “Dan-typical outfit” is not relevant to the context of international first class, just as “normal kid-noisy” was not to a shared flight cabin.
The issue is that what you perceive is normal in your home life is not always the right answer for external environments. Would you think wearing the same outfit was ok for a fine dining restaurant? Don’t you think there’s a good reason buddy pass flyers were required to dress well? It’s because that is the expectation in premium cabins from an airline’s POV. There’s also the at-the-margin issue of whether such attire will be assumed to be the mark of points travelers with negative consequences for access rules, as well as playing into stereotypes of unsophisticated Americans.
LOL – you’re pumping up the controversy now! 🙂 Thanks for the feedback and thoughts.
Would you go to a fancy first class restaurant in a t short ? Come on ! Yes you CAN wear what you want but in such and exspensive cabin it’s just tacky IMO to wear t-shirt … Again just my opinion but if I ow we a top class restaurant I would t let you in and the same goes for top class airline product ! You dress for the occasion ! Americans are so worried about “being comfortable” even it it is at the exspense of people around them ! Come on !
But Tony, that’s just it. What is the expense to others? Tell me how you are negatively affected by my clothing choice?
Michelin * restaurants have dress codes…often explicitly stated on their websites. Airlines do not.
Functionally, for me it makes sense to wear more than a T-shirt because planes are often freezing cold. However, once you pick a warm outfit, you’ll end up in a sweatbox flight…so, layers.
No doubt – our JAL flight from Chicago to Tokyo was so warm I had trouble sleeping
Dan – ignore all the haters. I love to dress up for a wedding or celebration but flying Business/First Class is just getting you from point A-to-B.
You weren’t drunk (because you don’t drink)
You likely weren’t loud and obnoxious
You likely weren’t smelly
You likely weren’t rude
Those are the only things that bother me.
Hey, he even took a shower. In an airplane. At like 36,000 feet. 🙂
then you should just stick to economy since it is just to get from “A to B”
while you are at it, i would assume this is also your rationale in buying a Kia instead of a BMW or ferrari.
or a nice lange or vc instead of a timex. “both tell time”
or a nice dinner instead of fast food. “both fills you up”
or working a proper job instead of being on welfare. “both gives me cash”
That logic of luxury=class is just so.. flawed. People have their own preferences and are free to choose.
A man like Bill Gates would drive a Kia over a BMW or a Ferrari, this man would also sport a $50 quartz diver (he actually does) over a Patek or whatever high-end timepiece you can name. He certainly does not lack money so does he lack class?
You can buy top of the line luxury to make you look the part based of what you know but truth is, you can never buy class.
Also, sidenote, dress codes are enforced where they ARE REQUIRED.
Because I have worked for a few well-known airlines; I’ve always been conscious about the “dress codes” which are implied when travelling on standby – or as they like to say whenever possible to follow the brand conventions. Funnily enough I’ve never used standby travel but still like to travel in jeans and a polo shirt at the very minimum. Sometimes that was to “keep up appearances” as I worked closely with the crew; others just because it’s practical for me. At the end of the day it’s up to the passenger how they would like to dress and feel comfortable on a flight and I fully respect their choice of outfit. As long as it is not inappropriate then it is fine with me.
As someone who used to dress however they felt and not care in the slightest, I have found that this my mind has slowly changed on this issue over the past few years. I blame it on a combination of my current job plus getting married. It now matters to me what and who I reflect. I want how I dress to (a) reflect well on my wife and/or employer and (b) to show respect to the airline, hotel, restaurant, [insert place]. People do often care how you look, even if they don’t know you.
For domestic, leisure economy, I have no issues with t-shirt and decent shorts. It’s vacation. I think other people look silly in yoga pants and neck pillows (that’s a couple steps down from even shorts in my mind). In business or first, however, I would feel very awkward if I dressed sloppily or very casually. I simply would not do so. It’s the same as showing up at a nice restaurant under-dressed. That doesn’t show respect to the type of service you are receiving. Nice jeans and a button down shirt (which is minimum work attire for me when in our other offices) would be the minimum when checking into a 3*+ hotel, going to a fairly nice restaurant, flying for work, or if I flew in F or J.
I guess almost anything is blog content these days.
People will read almost anything these days. 😉
and people often get offended for any internet comment by a stranger these days 😉
The funniest thing to me about this entire conversation is that everyone I saw on our flight in 1st class spent a majority of time lounging around in their complimentary pajamas. I think most people would consider pajamas very, very casual. Even if they are 1st class pajamas, they’re still pajamas. So yeah, that t-shirt and shorts ensemble is looking a little more snazzy now Mr. Miller.
Wow. I’m surprised at how snooty and judgmental some of these comments are.
Note to self: when asked for opinion, don’t express one, just agree with the general consensus or prepare to DEFEND the opinion that everyone says doesn’t matter.
Offer validation only, as people cannot accept a difference of opinion without striking back.
I read all of the posts above so I have heard both sides. It basically comes down to main points of view:
1. Dress respectfully for where you will be.
2. I’m an American, I can do whatever I wan’t, and I couldn’t care less about what other people think of me and how I dress.
When traveling domestically, I don’t think it is a problem dressing as casual as you want. However, I believe it is different when traveling internationally.
Each country has their own norms and practices. When I visit other countries around the world (which I do 3 times a year), I always try to be respectful of the place that I am visiting. When I am in Paris, I don’t act like I am in Los Angeles. When I am in Tokyo I don’t dress and conduct myself the same as when I am at a rodeo.
When you travel overseas, your manners and attire do make a difference in how the locals perceive and treat you. Having an attitude of “I couldn’t care less what strangers I will never meet again think about me” will not result in the best experience when traveling overseas.
I love the miles and points game and I travel in all classes.
How you dress does not determine who you are, but it can influence how others treat you. I see this happen all the time when I travel overseas. Classic example: Some of the posters who dress very casual have shared how the gate staff mistook them for economy class until they saw the boarding pass. When I fly First Class I always dress business casual and appreciate the gate staff welcoming me with friendly smiles and not assuming I don’t belong in First class because of the clothes I wear.
And when I get to my hotel I promptly shower and change into clothes appropriate for dining out and wandering around the city.
We are talking about clothing on an airplane.
And this isn’t just an American attitude. Have you seen young British males and their ass-sagging sweat pants all over Europe? They certainly don’t dress like Parisian males. You know why? Because they aren’t from Paris. I’m a tourist. I respect the customs of the place I am visiting, but I will never dress like I am from that place, because I’m not.
I am a tourist, spending 8 hours a day walking and touring. I’ll leave my work clothes at home.
If it is 90 degrees out, I will dress like I am in Los Angeles and probably be really comfortable. Of course, my shoulders and knees will be covered for houses of worship and then I’ll stop at my hotel and change into a nice summer dress for dinner. Or, I’ll go somewhere uber casual if I don’t feel like dressing up.
Once again, my clothing choices have zero effect on your life.
“And this isn’t just an American attitude. Have you seen young British males and their ass-sagging sweat pants all over Europe?” Yes I have. Too many times. lol.
“They certainly don’t dress like Parisian males. You know why? Because they aren’t from Paris. I’m a tourist. I respect the customs of the place I am visiting, but I will never dress like I am from that place, because I’m not.”
So how exactly do Parisians dress? I’ve vacationed there twice in the past 2 years and am going there again this year and I don’t know what you are talking about.
I am an American and when I go to Paris I wear American clothes, not Parisian clothes. I run into Australian tourists quite often and I don’t see how they are different.
“I am a tourist, spending 8 hours a day walking and touring. I’ll leave my work clothes at home.”
I never wear or bring work clothes when I am on vacation.
When I said business casual I meant a collared shirt with jeans in decent shape. That is what is considered “business casual” where I live here in the San Francisco Bay Area.
Did you think I meant dress shirt with a coat and slacks? That’s not what I meant and I would never dress like that on vacation. lol.
I guess I don’t feel quite like how you described #2. It’s not so much that I feel like “I’m an American and I can do whatever I want” so much as I don’t think it really matters as much as some people seem to think it matters. But I do appreciate your level-headed discussion as opposed to …. some folks 🙂
Sorry to be a dissenting opinion to most of the comments, but I think that wearing shorts and a graphic t-shirt makes one look like a slob in first or business class. There are long chino pants that are very soft and comfortable, and at least a solid color t-shirt looks a little more dignified. I don’t think we need to go back to suits and dresses for travel, but an international flight (especially in a premium class, whether on points or on a paid ticket) is not a backyard bbq.
I usually wear a nice pair of jeans and a buttoned down shirt. Flying with a suit might make you feel nice, but it’s not very comfortable in my experience.
Honestly, I don’t care what people around me wear, as long as it’s closed shoes (if we have to spend 5+ hours together, I don’t want to see/smell their feet) and something reasonable as a shirt. I find the BO issue to be more and more evident these days, and that can turn a flight into a nightmare – I have very sensitive nose for that 🙁
Wow, quite the controversy. Only time I dress up for first class is if its for work AND I’m heading to work. If not, I wear whatever I’m comfortable in. I don’t dress for other people, I dress in what I feel like wearing. I’ll be rocking my shorts, tshirt and sandals with my 9 month and 2 1/2 year old in our upcoming first class flight. If people don’t like, then thats too bad.
When I was reading about the flight I noticed the picture and the Tshirt was the first thing I noticed and distracted me from the cabin… Not trying to judge, but my first thought was it looked like you didn’t belong there. Your wife’s shirt looks nice, but the random print Tshirt was too casual. There are some nice Tshirts that would have completely changed my opinion.
I don’t dress up all the time, but I like I blend into my surroundings. Be it a nice restaurant, show, or even a plane. Not to mention you’re writing to people who follow you, and it wasn’t professional. Sorry, I try not to judge, but my opinion was changed a bit. Just being honest.
As a man, I have a self-imposed minimum dress code when flying. Long pants (probably jeans), a polo shirt and shoes (no flip flops or sandals). Not that I haven’t ever worn a t-shirt or shorts, but I prefer not to. This is regardless if I am in a premium or economy cabin. It’s not that I am dressing to impress or anything, I look at it as being in public and don’t think an adult should be transiting the country or internationally in their PJs (unless provided by the airline, then game on!). Also, even if warm when boarding I find that at some point the inside of the plane is usually comfortable if not cool, so having long pants is a must to keep my legs warm. In general I dress casual, comfortable, but not like I’m headed to bed or lounging around the house on wash day.
Jacky, I’m confused. Why do you assume that you will smell the feet of someone wearing open shoes or sandals? Yes, there are some gross feet out there but there are also some perfectly good-looking pedicured and groomed ones as well. With TSA being what it is these days it is much more convenient that footwear be easily removed and put back on…oh, and not to mention the taboo word, comfortable!
To add my $0.02 to the discussion, dress-wise I wear what is comfortable to sit in for flights of long duration. Travelling from, say, Miami to Vancouver with 2-3 stops in between does not, to my mind, lend itself well to sitting for a long time in a suit or clothes that will look like you’ve slept in them (which you’ve probably have!) by the time you get to your destination. So whatever I deem comfortable when I am getting dressed is what I will wear, although that’s usually jeans and a nice shirt. I don’t judge people by their clothing choices as to whether they have class or not, but as long you don’t smell, are not rude and don’t fart (someone did this literally every 15 minutes on a flight from London to Miami), I say dress in what makes you comfortable. Airlines, unlike some restaurants, have never published dress codes. I just do not see how my choice of clothing affects other travelers or why it is any of their business. And I am not American but travel quite frequently in business/first class.
I do not wear clothes with writing or pictures . Pretty light on the bumper stickers too .
I guessed we have low class, middle class, and first class people here.
The most important thing to me is not infringe on other people’s personal space, rather it’s smelling feet, body oder, kicking the chair in front, etc…
My takeaway – having never flown in first class but thinking about splurging for an upcoming trip. Apparently you are flying with a bunch of snobs. It seems several people don’t really care that you are wearing a t shirt and shorts – it is the amount of dollars you spent on them, that offends so many. In other words you may have bought those at a discount store, so keep them out of first class! Yuck. My husband and I dress fairly nice on planes, as we do in most places. But what is nice to us, probably wouldn’t be to some of the snobs writing to you. Our jeans or slacks rarely cost over $50. Why? Because we are frugal. Not poor, not low class, frugal. My husband runs a successful business. We have made good life choices (as someone above judges peoples life choices by their clothing). I just would never, ever, pay $150 for a t shirt. That is such a waste of our money.
I couldn’t tell you 5 minutes after I get off a plane what anyone else is wearing. I don’t care. Now occasionally you see that person, male or female, that everyone has to be thinking – why on gods green earth would you wear that? But, overall, I. Don’t. Care. Maybe I will stick with economy or business class, if everyone in first class is determining my self worth by the price tag of my clothes. Not sure I’d want to share a space with such snobs.. Maybe we are just economy/business type people, if first class means the attitudes I see above.
I think the difference between first class and business class is mostly the alcohol. If that’s not important to you (as it isn’t to me), business class is probably better.
Well, I may have a drink on a plane, but it is hardly important and quite frankly it may be premium liquor. As someone who does partake, I have to say, at a certain price point, you are paying for a label, the taste isn’t really that much better. A more private sleeping area interests me but I’m thinking I’d rather not sit or sleep next to people who will wear pajamas on a plane but trash talk someone in shorts.
thank you very much for sticking to economy from now on.
you are an excellent example.
Well, I was intending to answer your smart remarks but then I realized that you went through here trashing everyone. That is class, I must say you are really first class material to talk to people like that. How about First “Crass”, not Class. People with Class do not talk to others the way you have on here. Your expensive clothes mask a ill bred person. I’d rather sit in economy or first class, with people who are real, have manners and who’s parents taught them how to treat others with respect.
Heh – I noticed that too and agree on first “Crass” 🙂
I was afraid after I finished it, that I might should have let it go. Money might get people in first class on a plane, but it sure can’t give them real class.
Heh – there certainly is something to be said for “don’t feed the trolls”
Basically, you are free to dress how you like, as there are no rules, only social mores which are flexible.
However, people are free to judge strangers by the outward cues of wealth and social status; they really do have a right to their impressions and opinions.
But, we are all free not to care how we are viewed in that hierarchy.
Look at that! People get to be themselves. Magical.
I totally understand and agree that people might judge me for my outfits. And as you mention at the end of your comment, I’m truly okay with that.
Is this really a debate? My policy in life is to live how I want to live and not be offended or bothered by things I can’t control. I typically wear business casual when flying in I international premium cabins because it feels appropriate to me, but if I was sitting across from Dan and he was wearing a Speedo and purple wig, I couldn’t care less. I might glance at him and chuckle, but why bother getting offended or thinking ill of someone you don’t know and have no influence over?
Joseph seems to have the best outlook . Don.t make things important if they don’t need to be important . Less stress !
Now you’re just giving me wardrobe ideas for my next trip!
I couldn’t imagine putting in all that effort to impress others. I can pay for my tickets or use points for my flights but since I charge 7 digits a year on my credit cards I normally prefer to burn points for my first class seats. I wear a t-shirt 100% of the time because I can and I don’t feel the need to impress anyone. I used to have to wear those uncomfortable clothes back when I worked in the corporate world and there is not a chance I’m going to do it again for a flight. If your hygiene and manners are in place then you are good to go.
I dress at least business casual when I fly First Class, but comfortably. I know that these days the norm seems to be to dress down no matter where you may be going. I also find that manners seem to be going to the way side. I don’t know if there is a correlation though. I care how I present myself, but I don’t judge how others dress. Life is too short. It is what I AM most comfortable with. I am from a different generation though.
In general, I say wear what you want to be comfortable when you fly.
However, if you’re a male and your shirt lets me see your nipples and/or armpit hair, you’re not dressed to be out in public, much less in close quarters on an airplane.
Shorter version- no tank tops, scumbag!
Up until very recently, I always “dressed up” when flying, whether that be short or long haul, economy or first class. To me, flying is still an exciting experience, and it helps me enjoy the experience to spend a little time figuring out what I’m going to wear.
My flying “uniform” used to consist of a long sleeve button-down shirt, chinos/khakhis, a double breasted blazer, and a pair of loafers.
Now, I’m more than likely to skip the button-down shirt in favor of a “nice” t-shirt (that is, something without obnoxious imagery etc – except for that time I wore the “If it ain’t Boeing, I ain’t going” t-shirt I wore on the 747 to Australia a few years back). I wear dressy jeans, and loafers, and bring a nice hooded sweatshirt (yes, there is such a thing) for warmth at night on a long-haul flight.
Looking forward to travel tips!
When flying first or business, and especially international first and business, I always go towards smart casual; a polo and khakis/chinos. I don’t do this because I feel like I should necessarily, but because I treat it as a privilege.
Flying in a premium cabin (especially on points) on an airplane, which transports you around the world in a matter of mere hours is a privilege in my mind. It isn’t mass transit. It isn’t a right. It’s a privelege to me and the golden age of air travel always been appealing. This is one way I respond to that sentiment in my respect for the mode of transportation that separates it from all other forms of travel.
Many (if not most) premium cabins provide a fine dining experience on board. I make an attempt to dress “up” when I go out to a nice meal. So, I do the same, but this one happens to be 6 miles up.
I am a gay frequent flyer and business owner…but I also am someone who always gets hot. I fly F and J most often, both domestically and internationally, and most often I am wearing shorts and a short sleeve shirt (usually but not always collared) with sandals. I live in California, where this sort of dress is more common, of course, but I travel often to places that are more conservative. I could care less. I feel as long as I look presentable in my more casual clothing, I am fine. I’ve flown most of the major carriers in international F and have had no issues whatsoever.
I also find that crew are perfectly nice to me despite being dressed casually. In fact, I find that being polite and friendly to crew is a better gauge than dress on how they will treat you in response. I’ve seen jerks in suits and lovely dresses, after all. I don’t see too many shoddily dressed people, but then I’m often the only person in a cabin in shorts.
People are getting more casual in most places on the planet, but in some cultures the more affluent dress better to showcase their station. That isn’t true in California…and isn’t as true in the USA in general. It is more true in Europe.
I’ll be flying to Venice in LH F/J in October and surely will be wearing my staple outfit. And anyone who doesn’t like it can deal with it…as I disembark and end up at my Gritti Palace suite.
True luxury means I can dress appropriate to what I WANT. Not what someone else tells me I have to.
Absolutely not. Unless it’s a short (under 2 hours or so) flight, comfort is the most important thing.
I don’t wear shorts on flights, but that’s because you never know what the temperature is going to be and generally it’s more likely to be freezing than too hot. I wear jeans, sneakers, a t-shirt, and a light sweater or long-sleeved t-shirt which I can take off if it’s too hot.
I could care less what people think of what I’m wearing, because I know it looks nice in a casual way. Would I wear pajamas or a t-shirt with expletives on it? No. But jeans and a fitted t-shirt is 100% acceptable.
It’s funny, I actually look at people wearing suits or slacks and button-down shirts and feel bad for them because of how uncomfortable they seem.
To each his own though…
This conversation is fun but irrelevant.
IF your carrier provides a true F or B class experience, nobody will actually see you– except when you board/potty run/deplane, because your $10k USD+ or 100-200k miles + “fuel surcharges” each way (!) buys you privacy. Privacy and space is what F/B is all about–so if the carrier delivers, clothes don’t matter. My 2 cents…
Depends on whether you are a first passenger or just a passenger in first class.
Dress for the destination not for the flight. If I’m leaving or going to the office, then I’m dressed for work. If I’m flying first/business class, it’s because I want a more comfortable experience. It’s not a gala, it’s transportation.
That whole only Americans wear t-shirts thing internationally is baloney. I’ve lived in Paris and flown around Europe and I noticed people don’t care and they will wear t-shirts.
As for the Kia vs BMW, I’m taking the Kia because functionally there’s no difference to me and I don’t intend on impressing anyone with my car that will spend most of its time parked in a garage at the airport.
Unless Delta gives me a minimum dress code for my flights, I’m wearing t-shirts and shorts whenever I get a chance.
I like to dress well when we fly. I’ve just found that people take you more seriously. Also, if I’m going to be packing a sports coat or jacket, might as well wear it instead of packing it and have them hang it in first class.
I’m sorry. I know this thread has been here a while but I just wanted to say something.
While I don’t really care what other people think about me and I tend to wear whatever I want, whether when flying or in any social settings, I think it’s important to be respectful to other people sharing the space. To me, it’s at the same level as when people complain about body odor from people sitting next to them.
I myself am pretty chill about these things, so it wouldn’t bother me at all if someone sitting next to me in first class was wearing t-shirt and shorts or whatever, as long as they are being reasonably civilized, I do think it would annoy quite a few people. I think of it as “de-firstclassing” the first class experience for fellow travelers.
Hope this doesn’t offend. I enjoy reading your posts.
No offense taken – thanks for your opinion!
Oh dear. I’m gonna get some looks tonight when I travel SIN to LHR in SQ Suites. Original plan was shorts and t shirt as it’s so bloody hot in Singapore, but I may shift slightly and put on a pair of jeans. But definitely a t shirt. In fact I only packed one shirt and that’s for the wedding I’m going to. Oh and I’m a CEO, have class, and not American before people start judging me for what I choose to wear!
Good luck! 🙂 I actually found nobody on my actual flight judged me or gave me any dirty looks. It’s just the armchair quarterbacks on the Internet 🙂
It’s a interesting topic. I used to work for American and when we flew non-rev I would sit in first class with my suit and tie looking at the others in the cabin who wore what they wanted. Always wanted to do that, and tomorrow I get to!
To all you folks on here that indicate you think less of folks that do that, well, I feel a bit sorry for you. The way you treat others is the way you assume others will treat you. Thinking it would be sad walking around thinking others are looking down on you all the time.
As a former international flight attendant TWA, I am unhappy with the appearance and attitude of some flight attendants and some passengers. I do believe that you are often treated as you are dressed, so it makes sense to pay attention to that, and it goes both ways. I don’t dress up like I used to, but it is easy to dress decently and still look nice. Why not? Is it really necessary to wear the same type of clothes you would wear to clean the gutters?
I am flying Portland OR to Mazatlan Mexico this weekend in coach. I am wearing black or navy capris, a matching short sleeve knit top, a matching light sweater or jacket, probably a coordinating scarf, and slip on shoes. It is just as easy, as comfortable as a t, shorts, and a hoodie, maybe it is my TWA days, but this is what feels right to me. I am showing respect for the flight attendants and myself. I am from the golden age of flight, 707s before the wide body 747s and etc., turned the plane cabin into a crowded smelly city bus. If deregulation and low fares caused this, we should rethink it.
I would like to change the flying experience to one that included free checked luggage (no more big carry ons), decent free food (no more spills, odors, and expensive crap food), and better leg room as well as seat width and comfort (less bad behavior???-yes!). My FA experience tells me this would improve everyone’s experience and reduce the horrible attitudes and behaviors of FAs and passengers. Let’s pay a bit more and get back to at least a decent experience. I could pay more now, but it really doesn’t solve the problems. We need to raise our standards.
One practical reason I’ve found–the cloth napkins that United uses in first class have a buttonhole. So I try to wear at least a polo or a camp shirt in order to have a button to attach it to.
I know this is a year old, but I just started reading this blog.
I am a fairly casual dresser and wear both
1) what makes me comfortable.
2) what is generally acceptable.
I think your t-shirt / shorts meets (1) squarely and (2) at the minimum. I think going shirtless, wearing a tank top, or sporting a speedo would be too little (but there I go, pushing my norms on others, ha ha).
Wearing a t-shirt and shorts in first class >is< making a statement and that statement is "I don't want to change the way I dress in the slightest." And, it sounds like that is the message you want to send.
Would I be offended, nope! I just want quiet on my flights so I can sleep.
Thank you so much for posting this! My husband and I are flying international in business class for the first time this week, and we were concerned about how to dress. My husband is a bigger guy, and gets very uncomfortable in anything but jeans and a t-shirt. Your post has put him morw at ease (especially since this is only the second time he’s ever been on a plane). Thanks 🙂
Do remember, that those who actually pay for First or Business Class, may opt for Private, which is happening more often…. only making First Class availability more scarce. Those who pay don’t want t be with folks who came in through the back door, so to speak.
Dress for your class of service. I have my Economy Survival outfit, My Business Casual, and my Comfy First Class get-up. I suggest you do the same, or those who actually pay for the service may not be there to foot the bill for your ability to be there as well.
Thanks, I look forward to take my first business class flight. I love sweatpants and hoodies and I am so going to wear these all day long!
Awesome! Send me pics! 🙂
Shorts are a no no for First, Business or Economy. Other than this there is a nice quote: “It’s good to dress well. The current culture of slovenliness conveys a spiritual and intellectual surrender”
When any of you, judgemental people pay for my airfare (first class, business class or economy), you may tell me what to wear.