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Should People Dress Up for Flights?

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Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


A recent newspaper article about the decline of formal nights on cruise ships lead me to think about dressing for air travel.

The Washington Post‘s Hannah Sampson (who, coincidentally, featured René yesterday in an article about mileage running) wrote about the tradition of cruise ships’ formal nights — and how dress practices are causing rifts amongst passengers. (The article quotes a number catty insults. My favorite: a highfalutin woman asking a fellow dressed-up passenger, “Did you know it was formal night?” Ouch.)

Formal nights, during which cruise passengers don tuxedos or ball gowns, are pretty much a thing of the past, save for Cunard which keeps the tradition going

While not completely extinct, formal nights seem to be on life support.

Elegant couple laughing for the camera while holding arm to arm.
(©iStock.com/feedough)

Fashion styles have relaxed in recent years — for almost every situation. From workplaces to church to travel to restaurants, most folks (myself included) don’t dress up as much as they used to.

Air travel — once a glamourous, swanky experience — now lends itself to sweatpants, shorts, and t-shirts. Part of that is for comfort’s sake. Most people don’t enjoy wearing nice (and probably constricting ) clothes while being wedged into seats that are much smaller now than in days of yore.

Personally, I dress for comfort but try to avoid looking like a ragamuffin. I’m all for a nice pair of jeans and a polo shirt or sweater (depending on the weather and destination). For long flights, I prefer breathable pants. But I also have no problem wearing shorts for quick hops between Vegas and the Los Angeles area. (I draw the line at flipflops. Partially for safety in case something goes awry and mostly out of respect for others; no one wants to see my feet 😉 .)

What Do You Think?

Should people dress up for flights? Or if you cruise, do you wish there were more formal nights? Please share your thoughts in the below Comments section!

— Chris

Featured image: ©iStock.com/SeventyFour

Rene’s Points For Better Travel, a division of Chatterbox Entertainment, Inc. has partnered with CardRatings for our coverage of credit card products. Rene’s Points For Better Travel and CardRatings may receive a commission from card issuers. Opinions, reviews, analyses & recommendations are the author’s alone, and have not been reviewed, endorsed or approved by any of these entities. As an Amazon Associate I earn from qualifying purchases.


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12 Comments

  1. Rajat Aggarwal

    Being of Indian origin and subject to the typical stereotype, in my first few years of flying I was the lucky one for “random” security checks (tsa/at the gate) almost every flight. Just wearing a sports blazer since 2014 for every flight, I haven’t had a single one of those checks. Maybe it is just luck but I think otherwise.

  2. You’re absolutely correct! Countless studies have shown if you want to be looked on most favorably wear a nice suit or if you want just more favorably wear a nice blazer.

  3. I was a former Road Warrior for in the 90s and traveled for in business attire or semi casual but with the advent of the discount airlines ( Southwest , Alligent and Frontier and Soirit ) you see this all the time . 300 llb female ware yoga pants like they are catching a flight to a exercise class it’s looks hideous . Comfort is one thing but people take it too far ,iv seen this in all shapes and sizes , yoga leggings a tee shirts standard attire , its just to informal . . Please cove up and dress nice .

  4. I’ve seen young adults in pajamas taking early morning flights. How’s that for comfort?

  5. T-shirts & shorts are fine with me for formal nights on cruise ships, including Cunard! I hate pretentiousness.

  6. Men should always wear a sports coat, slacks or nice jeans on just about any flight except maybe short hauls. It’s unbelievable what some people will wear.

    Women can get away with dressing for comfort more than men since they have more wardrobe options than men.

    Happy New Year!

  7. Delta diamond married to a delta diamond here. I don’t think we’ve travelled once in the past 5 years in anything other than yoga pants or yoga sweat pants. I mostly wear this to work too, unless a client is visiting.

    I find that a smile and a good attitude goes much farther than a blazer when it comes to getting good service. I also find at work that competence and a good attitude works well enough at work.

    Unless I’m selling myself or representing my company, why should I care about how strangers perceive me. If I wore a suit on a plane, what would any of you do for me?

  8. HuntingtonGuy

    Dress comfortably and enjoy your flight. Just exercise a drop of common sense and civility. Most of us pretty clearly understand where the line between appropriate and inappropriate lies. Self respect should include not being offensive or not making a “statement” with your dress.
    I’m more bothered by the person propping their bare (or shod) feet onto the bulkhead or storing used diapers in the seat back pouch, but hey, that’s just me.

  9. My mother taught me if you can afford to fly, you can afford to dress better.

  10. It does not take any more effort to dress nicely. Pajama’s, sweat pants, even shorts and certainly flip flops are for too casual and unattractive to wear in public, particularly in close, confined areas.

  11. If you can afford to fly, you can afford to dress better. After dinner service, change into pajamas while they offer a turndown service.

  12. Michael

    Why dress nicely to sit and sleep. I own a $4000 custom made suit. I have no idea why I’d wear it on an airplane. Your opinion of me is of limited concern, since you aren’t paying me and you aren’t having sex with me.

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