Flight Attendants And Pilots Warn Against Wearing This Apparel On An Airplane

We've all seen the photos from a bygone era when people treated flying as a special occasion. They would pull out their best skirts and slacks, almost as if they were dressing for a job interview or family photo day. Over the last several decades, passengers gradually began embracing casual wear for flights instead of formal attire. These days, hoodies and sweatpants are the modern-day airport uniform.  

Whether you're a traditionalist or just want to look polished and put-together in the air, you might decide to ditch the new norms and put on your nicest heels when traveling. However, airline employees say those height-boosting shoes are a terrible idea. American Airlines Flight Attendant Andrea Fischbach explained the reason to Who What Wear: "If there is an evacuation and slides are required, your high heels will have to come off, as they can puncture the slide. Who knows where and in what conditions you'll land."

Brett Manders, an international air pilot and author of "Behind the Flight Deck Door," echoed this, telling Best Life that passengers who wear heels are often required to remove the pointy-heeled shoes during emergency landings. This could slow down your exit, putting you and others at a greater risk of danger.

What shoes should you wear on a plane?

Wearing high heels might make you feel like a first-class passenger, whether you're in an upgraded seat or stuck in coach. But given how unsafe and impractical they can be, it's best to keep your heels at home or stashed away in your luggage. Spindly heels aren't the only shoes to watch out for. Andrea Fischbach also told Who What Wear about the risks associated with sandals and backless styles. 

First, the flight attendant pointed out how flip-flops and similar shoes can easily fall off your feet while you're in the air, leaving you with cold toes. Even worse, you might expose your tootsies to some unsanitary substances. "Be wary of wearing sandals if you are planning on going in the lavatory," Fischbach said. "That isn't water on the floor (yes, use your imagination), and sandals invite whatever that liquid is to splash on your feet."

So, what footwear is a safe and practical choice when flying? Rich Henderson, a flight attendant and co-creator of the blog Two Guys on a Plane, recommended "practical close-toed shoes [sic]" to Business Insider. "In some destinations, you may be boarding the plane via stairs or a ramp, so you always want to wear something that'll hold up in a variety of situations." Sneakers, flats, and comfortable loafers are just a few possibilities.

Other clothing items to avoid when flying

Like heels, those long dresses and dapper suits people once wore for air travel are impractical by today's standards — even if they look fashionable. These days, airline staff would rather you wear clothes that aren't overly fussy. "Remember, you are sitting in a piece of machinery with confined spaces, sharp objects and strangers," flight attendant and in-flight director Amy Caris shared with Reader's Digest. "Don't wear your best outfit, but wear something that is comfortable and can slightly stretch."

With this advice in mind, stiff fabrics and constrictive garments are best avoided when flying. This includes jeans (styles with spandex or another stretchy material are the exception), closely tailored jackets, and anything with a tight waistband. For comfier options, try loungewear, stretchy athleisure, and loose layers.

Tommy Cimato, a flight attendant popular on TikTok, also posted a video urging travelers not to wear shorts and other bottoms with short hemlines on airplanes. In the viral clip, Cimato explains that your airline seat can be dirtier than it appears, and wearing shorts and mini skirts exposes your skin to more bacteria, viruses, and other microbes. The content creator suggests wearing long pants to give yourself maximum protection.