top of page
  • Writer's pictureHelen Avaient

Is There a Minimum Standard of Clothing for Airline Travel?

Updated: Oct 22, 2023

Today, I read a news article that detailed how an airline flight attendant asked a female passenger to ‘cover up’ on a flight.

My first thought was, “Well, they must not have seen some of the fashions that I have witnessed watching fellow passengers aboard airplanes!” There is in fact a minimum standard of clothing for airline travel

First, let’s just get this out of the way, I am not a fashion expert, nor do I profess to being a fashion model. However, I have done my fair share of criticizing stranger’s garb in the past. Hands up (come on, raise some hands with me – don’t let me believe I am the only one who does this), if you have ever been somewhere and seen someone wearing something that made you think, “Did they NOT look in the mirror before they left the house this morning?” or “My parents would have sent me back to my room to change if I had tried to go out wearing that.”

The photographs of the outfit showed a body hugging top and shorts, not short shorts, just shorts. The lady doctor said “I have a very curvaceous body, and I put my body in bold colours, so you’re going to see it. But it’s not vulgar. It’s not inappropriate. It’s not bad, you know? If you put someone who’s a size 2 in the exact same outfit next to me, no one would be bothered.” Hmm, so maybe not a clothing issue here, but a size issue. Does a size 6 body look better in yoga pants and a short top boarding a plane, than a size 22 body?

Further down in the article it mentioned a different woman who was booted off a different flight after a passenger complained her top was see-through. The person in question said that whilst she wasn’t wearing a bra, she did have nipple covers on under her top. Well honey, so do a lot of strippers, but I don’t want to see them shopping at the local supermarket, or boarding the same plane I am on.

In 2017 Joanne Catherall, a vocalist for English pop band Human League, was banned from a business class lounge in Melbourne Airport because she was wearing Ugg boots. The reason she was given is that they were deemed ‘sleepwear’. There is even a little picture of an Ugg boot with the word sleepwear written underneath it on their webpage for lounge dress guidelines. Banned items for the lounge also include thongs, beachwear, head to toe gym wear, beachwear (including board shorts) etc.

Does it really matter what others opinions of us are? In the perfect world – no. In this world – sadly, yes, most of the time. If it didn’t, magazines would have limited information and pictures to write about, and influencers would not exist.

Plane flights can be long and cramped and uncomfortable. You are required to move into positions that need different clothes to be worn than those you might wear out. But you are OUT. In Public. Where other people can see you.

So, what is best for airline travel? You want to be comfortable. Comfortable can still be chic. Opt for clothing that is breathable and soft, try cotton, silk or linen, and dress in layers. Better to have 2 lighter weight tops than one heavy woollen one. You can always shed one of the lighter weight tops if it gets too hot.

If you are travelling within the same temperature zone it is easier, but what if you are travelling long haul flights from hot to cold or vice versa. The clothes I wear on a flight are governed by where I will be landing. Leaving Australia in December when it is the middle of a hot summer, and arriving in Europe in the midst of an artic temperature winter, taught me to wear a bit more than a summer dress and sandals.

My plane clothes for changed weather destinations:

  • My heaviest and comfortable walking boots, (bonus: saves luggage space and weight)

  • Underwear, including socks, (and a spare pair of all these in my carry-on bag for long haul flights)

  • Loose fitting jeans, or pants

  • A singlet and a comfortable shirt,

  • Two light to medium weight tops, at least one is buttoned,

  • My heavy jacket (as for the boots, and can act as a blanket in cold planes or be folded up to be an extra pillow). I take a leather coat. It is wonderfully light weight and still gets the job done.

Remember, even when getting on the plane in cold weather and getting off in hot – you can take the extra clothes off when you get off a plane, rather than trying to find them in a suitcase in the middle of an airport. Not to mention the walk from when you leave the plane and enter the cold passageways. Not all parts of all airports are heated and cooled.

As always – Happy travels.

ugg boots on feet of a plane passenger
127 views0 comments


bottom of page