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9 things you shouldn’t wear on an airplane

At the height of the golden age of aviation, innovative technology dominated the skies as the miracle of flight became a reality. This advanced method of travel wasn’t quite as accessible as it is today. In fact, traveling in the air was seen strictly as a luxury, and one must dress for the occasion. Men wore their finest jackets and ties, while women styled their hair to complement their fashionable outfit, complete with a perfectly powdered nose and high heels.

Gone now are the days of donning up for the runway, as air travel became more frequent, more accessible, and let’s be honest – more of a hassle. These days, most travelers dress for comfort and convenience, and who can blame them? From the chaotic catastrophe of TSA security lines to making a run for it to your gate (hello McCallister family at ORD), the optimal traveler knows just what to wear for their journey 30,000ft in the air. On the other hand, if you’re a first-time traveler, it’s all too easy to make some rookie mistakes. Below, we’ll be looking into what one should never wear on an airline.


Some clothing items never seem to ever go out of style, and jeans are no exception. From bell bottoms to high-waisted, jeans are undoubtedly here to stay in the fashion world. Popularized by Hollywood hunk James Dean in the 1950s, jeans symbolize cool, calm, relaxed, fun, and young. However, there are still some places where wearing jeans isn’t quite fitting, whether for fashion or practicality.

In this case, wearing jeans on an airline –especially skinny jeans – is highly discouraged. With limited legroom as it is, jeans can make one feel even more confined as they provide little to no flexibility with not a lot of pant leg space. Additionally, not only are they heavy in fabric, but they can also result in restricted blood flow.


We’ve all heard that diamonds are a girls’ best friend, and undeniably so. While it’s perfectly safe and allowed to travel through the airport and get on a plane with a sparkly rock around your finger, one may consider the negatives of traveling with one’s beloved possessions. From bulky statement necklaces to trendy bangles around one’s wrist, they all look very lovely as one poses for their “’fit of the day, airport edition” Instagram airport bathroom selfie (complete with the fluorescent lights and a mother struggling with their baby and diaper bag in the background). However, one may want to consider holding off on the fashion runway for the practicality of making it to the airplane runway.

Keep in mind that wearing jewelry can often result in being held up at TSA, as you’d need to take off any jewelry that may set off security detection alarms. In the event this happens, not only are you holding yourself up, but the travelers behind you as well, as you struggle to get each piece of jewelry off, then back on again. Additionally, once on the plane, jewelry is likely to get caught in any clothing you may be wearing. It’s hard enough trying to get your sweater off in a cramped space, but even more so when your jewelry gets snagged on the fabric.

Tight clothes

The design of an aircraft is always with intention. The average seat width on an aircraft is about 17 inches, with manufacturers intentions in mind to maximize the number of seats possible to sell as many tickets as they can. In short, even if you’re fortunate enough to be built like Bella Hadid (let’s just pretend she flies commercial, for the sake of this explanation) you and about 200 others are typically cramped like sardines in a tiny space for what could be hours on end.

While the average traveler can’t control the seat dimensions of a standard aircraft, what they can control is the constraints of their own clothing. With barely enough breathing room as it is on an aircraft, it would be wise for a traveler to forgo the tight clothing for the sake of comfortability and breathing space. Instead, one may choose to wear something with a little more room for their skin to maximize their comfort.


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Tank tops and shorts

Heading down south to some warmer tropical climate destinations such as Florida or the Caribbean may have a sun-deprived traveler so excited for their sunny getaway that they decide to don their summer-ready clothes while on the plane, clothes such as tank tops and shorts. While the anticipation of feeling some sun against skin that has probably felt the coldest winters might get you all hyped up, it’s probably best to hold off on your resort-ready outfits until you’ve landed.


It can be all too easy to mindlessly spray your favorite perfume as you’re headed out the door to catch your flight, especially if this is an everyday ritual part of your hygienic habits. It’s understandable that one would of course want to arrive to their destination looking and smelling fresh, more so if they know they have a loved one waiting for them on the other side of the terminal. And who isn’t guilty of wandering through those duty-free shops with an endless supply of expensive worldly perfumes that invite you for a complimentary spray or two.

While we can’t blame you for wanting to smell fresh, it’s best to hold off on any perfumes or strong-smelling lotions, in the interest of the general travelers around you and their potential allergies. In a small space such as an aircraft, strong perfumes can be carried throughout the cabin, potentially upsetting the noses and allergies of others. It’s best to wait until after you land to give yourself a little spray touch-up.

Heels or flip-flops

We’ve all been there – you’re struggling to make it to your gate on time. Sometimes you may even break out in a run. If this happens to you, you do not want to be in high heels while running through the terminal, trying to catch your flight. Not only would this be incredibly painful, but potentially dangerous as well. You don’t want to show up to your destination with a sprained ankle and a broken heel. Best to pack the heels in your bag for a more appropriate time.

Another type of footwear that you’d want to avoid as much as possible are flip-flops. You want to keep in mind that standard TSA security protocols have you taking off your shoes during inspection. With millions of travelers trampling through the same airport floors, you wouldn’t want to be caught barefoot with all those germs.

Instead, it’s best to stick to standard closed-toe shoes or walking sneakers built for comfort and durability.

Puffy and bulky coats

If you’re headed up north for a winter getaway, packing for the cold is important. Typical clothing may include puffed-up Northface jackets or perhaps bulky and heavy coats made with durable materials to keep you warm. Because of how much space they may take up in your checked bag, it can almost seem like a no-brainer to just carry it on with you. However, it’s best to give some more thought, as carrying these items onto the plane with you may provide you with more stress.

The seats are small enough as it is, and carrying these items with you to your seat may leave you with very little room leftover, which you then may decide the overhead bin may suffice. You may find that the overhead bin doesn’t have enough space for both your carry-on bag and your coats. If this happens, you may have to gate-check your wintery items. It’s best to just proactively free up some space in your checked bag and store your coats in there.

Underwire bras

No matter how many years you’ve been wearing a bra for, you can’t deny that the best part of your day is when you can finally free your bosoms of their confined entrapments. It’s universally known that as women, we tolerate underwire bras solely for the support they provide for us. While there’s a time and a place for underwire bras, an airplane might not be one of them.

Most especially during a long-haul flight, you’ll want to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible. Since you’ll be sitting down for quite some time, underwire bras might be a source of discomfort. It’s best to either ditch the bra entirely, or utilize alternatives that still provide support, but less discomfort.

Alternatives may include a traditional sports bra, which are typically complete with enough padding to support you. One may also opt for a bralette, which typically is made with less fabric, softer materials, and tends not to include an underwire.


One of the more universally positive notes about flying in the air is that you finally have a pocket of free time to enjoy for yourself. While reading will never go out of style, most travelers often use this “free” time to catch up on their favorite shows or finally zone in to watch a movie they’ve been meaning to see for a while. You’ll want to bring your own seat of ear devices for this, as airline ear devices tend to be more on the cheap side.

While many use in-flight entertainment as a source of leisure, others may need it as a source of distraction and comfort. Many flyers tend to feel pressure around their ears as rapid change in air pressure provides discomfort in the ears, resulting in one’s ears “popping”. This sensation is typically called “airplane ears”.

There’s a few ways to avoid this unsettling feeling. Among these remedies are chewing some gum, or yawning in order to regulate your ears. Another tried-and-true method is using some well-tailored headphones to drown out noise and assist in the discomfort. It’s advised to ditch the earbuds for headphones in order to maximize the effects of soothing your ears.

Your favorite outfit

It’s been years since the airing of the iconic “Sex and the City” two-part series finale, but there’s a few things we won’t ever forget, such as Carrie Bradshaw stepping out of a town car and breathing the Parisian air for the first time since getting off the flight from New York (easily an 8 hour haul, at least!). We can all timelessly oogle at how perfect she looks, dressed just for the occasion and looking fresh from her flight.

“And just like that….” We’re going to remind you that this is far from reality and that wearing your finest couture on a flight (especially transatlantic) is not recommended. Many things can go wrong from your journey to the airport to your destination. From TSA chaos to airplane turbulence (just as you were served a nice cup of coffee), there’s a great number of challenges to jump through to make it to your arriving airport without so much as a crease on your favorite outfit. Because of this, we suggest keeping your winning look in your bag until it’s ready to be showcased, on land.

Lauren Harby

At the age of 16, Lauren’s wanderlust was ignited as she embarked on a trip to her father’s homeland of Jordan, earning her first passport stamp. The sound of the Boeing 747 engine, propelling her beyond the familiar confines of Orlando, Florida, left a lasting impression on her. She swiftly realized that life was not meant to be grounded but rather lived in constant pursuit of awe-inspiring beauty that renders one silent on the plane ride back home. Since then, Lauren has made it her mission to explore as much of the world as possible, traveling solo with only a carry-on, and seeking out remote and rugged regions like the Himalayas in Nepal, as well as indulgent destinations such as the crystalline waters of Anguilla. For Lauren, luxury is the absence of worry, and while she’s not averse to budget travel in hostels, she believes that luxury travel can enhance the experience and provide a new perspective on the pursuit of carefree living.

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  1. THANK YOU for mentioning perfumes!!! Can’t say it enough…we love that you want to smell good, but the entire plane shouldn’t REEK of YOU!!!

    1. Good point!

      I’m allergic to many fragrances. You really don’t want to sit next to me and trigger a sneezing fit that lasts for the rest of the flight.

  2. It always amazes me how good people are at adapting on long-haul flights. They board dressed for rain in Manchester and somehow 9 hours later they’re ready for Miami Beach.

  3. It was long ago on a very uncomfortable 14 hour flight from Hong Kong to London that I learned the painful lesson of not wearing tight jeans. I’ve never made that mistake since.

  4. Although it may sound bizarre I like to wear the same jacket for a flight.

    I have a strict regime of keeping my boarding pass in the breast pocket. Passport inner left. Wallet inner right. Then I have set pockets for phone, charging lead and headphone.

    It all helps to keep things under control.

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