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Is it Time for Airlines to Institute Explicit Dress Codes?

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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.


We wrote yesterday about yet another airline passenger whose outfit was deemed inappropriate for travel.

This is the second such incident within a month (and from Australia, no less. What’s going on down there? Or, rather, Down Under?).

Airlines dress codes seem arbitrary and based on personal tastes and preferences. Class and acceptance are in the eyes of the beholders. 

Imagine if Fran Lebowitz were a gate agent or flight attendant. She declared:

  • “Yoga pants are ruining women”
  • “This most recent revival of platform shoes embodies everything that’s wrong with young people”
  • “Men in shorts are disgusting”

Ouch!

I know I would’ve been kicked off her flights if she were an airline employee — for wearing a polo shirt and cargo shorts. (I’m a dad. Cargo shorts are part of the uniform.)

While that’s perhaps a bit of a reach, do you see my point? There seems to be a lot of confusion as to what’s allowed and what’s not.

Huffington Post’s David Koening wrote:

It’s not always clear what’s appropriate. Airlines don’t publish dress codes. There are no rules that spell out the highest hemline or the lowest neckline allowed. That can leave passengers guessing how far to push fashion boundaries. Every once in a while the airline says: Not that far.

And that’s the problem.

Jetstar Airways — the airline involved in this past Monday’s incident — says this on their website:

You don’t have to dress to impress when you fly with Jetstar, but there are minimum dress requirements …

Offensive clothing

Please refrain from wearing any clothing or carrying personal items that display words, images, symbols or slogans that may reasonably be deemed offensive (e.g. a t-shirt with slurs or swear words on it).

Where this occurs, our crew will ask you to cover up the offensive material.

I didn’t see anything about bikini tops or crop tops, which sparked the whole thing in the first place).

So is it time for airlines to dictate exactly what’s allowed and what isn’t? (Lawyers in the group: I’d love your input on this.) Perhaps something along the lines of what this school issues on its website?

For example, should carriers tell people something like sleeveless shirts are permissible — but only such garments that cover everything else on the torso? Or no top may reveal more than one-half-inch of intermammary cleft? Maybe short pants are permissible for any gender — provided the hem is not more than six inches from the bend of the knee? (Sorry, Fran.)

Some of those would’ve solved the Southwest complaint from last year and the Virgin Australia incident a few weeks ago.

Applying common sense and not being so offended by everything would go a long way toward avoiding these (and most) problems altogether. (That goes for everyone involved in the “Who Wore Less?” situation above.)

But I don’t see either of those happening anytime soon.

So tell us — what do you think? Should airlines issue dress codes that explicitly tell us what’s allowed? Please share your thoughts in the below Comments section!

 

Featured image: ©iStock.com/michaeljung

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. ADIB BARSOUM Reply

    For men, no sandals, no shorts, no sleeveless shirts would be a good start.
    The airlines are finally addressing the problem with animals in the cabin. Now they should try seriously addressing offensive attire. If you don’t think seeing men’s ugly feet in sandals and also knobby knees is offensive I don’t know what is.

  2. No dress code. Just follow local laws. People (usually men) need to get over deciding how others (usually women) dress. That includes offensive words and slurs. If people do that kind of stuff I say thank you for letting us know what kind of person you are.

  3. Outfit should be appropriate as there are other people travelling too. We should take care of it and not be so offensive to anyone.

  4. Start with First Class…. used to be a man needed a jacket to fly in First Class. So start off by setting some standards for getting a free upgrade at the gate?! If it works, then it can be expanded. If it doesn’t work then no one should be too upset….

  5. Be a dad all you want in cargo pants, but for safety, it’s always been suggested that one wear long pants, shoes and socks and shirts that cover your arms. Why? In the event of a fire onboard or other such need for evacuation, you have something covering your body should the need to evacuate swiftly arise. Proper shoes on your feet help should there be glass or other debris. Nothing worse than being roadkill on an aircraft because of a personal need to be “comfortable.”

    Considering the interior of the plane is all sorts of plastic it’ll go up like a match. When flying dress for safety, not comfort.

      • Aislekill, lol. Seriously though, wear denim, protect your legs, those are the tools you’ll need to evacuate you and your kid! Think birdstrike, no fire involved but people in the middle of the Hudson River in the dead of winter.

        • Great comments you said everything that was on my mind…denim is the go to for fire and rugged, always avoid polyester etc, and long sleeves and good shoes just make sense….I am sure it will never happen to me, but isnt it wise to be prepared? Can you imagine high heels or flip flops on a jet wing and they have to come off if you slide so there you are in barefeet?? Not very smart!! I do have some fun observing the dress some get up in the morning and decide to put on, its just comical!!?? I saw one lady in a skin tight leotard cat suit last month walking the concourse after we landed…how did i miss her boarding?? It was a sight to behold all that moving!!!

    • Exactly right! My daughter and her friend asked what they could wear for our Match trip. I told them the exact same thing for the same reasons.

      The dress code for boarding should be long pants (a dress or kilt is ok, too) and long sleeves (whether that is a shirt or sweater) that is with you at your seat (not the overhead bin) should be required for safety reasons.

      • Chris,

        A kilt? No problems with kilts, but please tell me you expect them to have undergarments on if they choose to wear them on a plane……..

    • HuntingtonGuy Reply

      The rules are so subjective and vary so significantly between carriers it’ll be difficult to satisfy everyone. I’ve seen well dressed passengers behave like spoiled children and the frumpy guy in the old concert t-shirt be the best seat mate ever.
      “Offensive”? That means different things to different people. Is it a MAGA hat or a golf shirt sporting a parochial (religious)school logo? Applying the “socially acceptable” or “appropriate” tag means different things across different regions and cultures, even generations.
      People, including crew, have to embrace that (within reason, but what does that mean?) we have rights of free speech and expression but there is not a “right” to not be offended.
      Look away, change the channel and try to be less judgmental of others…we will all be happier in the end.

      • I don’t care what anyone wears as long as in an emergency their choices don’t get me or others killed due to wardrobe malfunctions during an evacuation. So we circle back to my original comment: Dress for safety, not comfort.

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