What not to wear on the plane

By | May 25th, 2008

Shorts. High heels. Cologne.

Even if you’re just an occasional air traveler, you probably know better than to wear any of those on board. Heavy perfumes can fog up the cramped aircraft interior, sickening your cabin-mates. High heels? Uncomfortable on longer flights and unusable on those inflatable emergency slides. As for shorts, once the cabin door is closed and the air conditioning is cranked all the way up, you’ll be sorry.

What to wear on a plane — or more to the point, what not to wear on a plane — is a hot topic today for a number of reasons. Not only are we heading into the warm summer months, when air travelers commit a majority of these sartorial slip-ups, but the gap between what we should wear on a commercial flight, and what we do wear, appears to be widening.

Take Kyla Ebbert, for example. She was almost tossed off a Southwest Airlines flight last summer because attendants claimed she was “dressed inappropriately.” What was wrong with her outfit? Watch the video and decide for yourself. Since then, there have been a string of too-skimpy-to-fly incidents, including one in Burbank, Calif. and another in Tampa, Fla.

Curiously, all of these run-ins with the fashion cops have involved Southwest Airlines crewmembers. The carrier insists it doesn’t discriminate against beautiful young women.


Before the airline industry was tragically deregulated, everyone knew what to wear on a plane. People dressed in their Sunday best. Coats and ties for the men. Modest dresses for the women. And kids, who were seen but not heard, were dressed like porcelain dolls.

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Now anything goes.

Oh, where is Mr. Blackwell when we need him? Here, in the meantime, are five tips on what you shouldn’t wear on a plane:

Uncomfortable or dangerous shoes
Doug Lynch has a thing for high heels. He doesn’t like to see them on a plane. In his opinion, pumps are problematic — from the discomfort they cause on long flights to the potential trouble they can create in the cabin interior. “Not to mention you shouldn’t wear them going down a slide,” says Lynch, who works for a defense contractor in Melbourne, Fla. I second that. I’m partial to multipurpose, comfortable shoes like the pair of Ecco Xpedition shoes I recently tested. (Another bonus: they’re easy to slip out of at a Transportation Security Administration screening area.)

Light colors
Darker clothes travel better, for a number of reasons, including the simple fact that a spill or stain is less likely to be noticed on a dark garment. And given the airlines’ dismal record on lost luggage, you should assume you’ll have to wear the same clothes tomorrow — and maybe even the day after that. The no-lights rule is especially important for longer trips. “White and lighter colors do not work when traveling unless you can do your own laundry or trust the hotel to do it and have that sort of budget,” says John Shore, who owns a public relations company in Dallas and travels frequently.



  • jdmaya123

    On the return flight from costa rica I was surprised that women wore shorts and sandals.