“Girl, I LOVE your boots!” a flight attendant recently said to me on a flight from New York to Los Angeles. I was wearing heeled, over-the-knee boots, mainly because I couldn’t fit them in my carry-on.
He then touched me on the arm, looked me in the eyes, and said earnestly, “Thank you for dressing up. It means a lot to us flight attendants, and no one does that anymore.”
If that isn’t enough of a reason to ditch those sweatpants when flying, I don’t know what is.
Of course, these days dressing up for a flight doesn’t automatically mean you’ll get an upgrade — not with too many loyalty programs and the frequency of overbooking — but that’s no excuse for dressing like a college kid late for their Monday-morning class.
I get it — flights are long; seats are uncomfortable. You want to wear something flexible and not sit on buttons for eight hours. You think that because you’re no longer getting chateaubriand carved seat-side, you shouldn’t have to bother wearing anything formfitting. You feel like you’re being treated in an undignified manner, so you should be free to dress that way.
But there’s a difference between looking sloppy and being comfortable — you can look put-together and still be cozy.
Here are four reasons why you should dress up on a flight:
You may get an upgrade
These days, most flights are overbooked, but in the rare instance that they aren’t, being better dressed than all the other schlubs will give you an edge.
When AirFareWatchdog.com founder George Hobica asked a gate agent directly whether they’d be more likely to upgrade someone who was dressed well, the answer was, “Yes, the better dressed you are, the more likely you are to nab that seat. I am not going to put someone wearing flip-flops up front with our best customers.”
You’ll save space in your suitcase
If you’re bringing sweats and schlubby clothes that you don’t plan on wearing again on your trip, you’re wasting precious suitcase space.
Wearing heavier items like boots and a sweater is not only a space saver, but practical as well: You can plan other outfits around those items, and thus have more ensembles while packing fewer clothes.
You’ll feel better about yourself
Besides never knowing who you might meet on a plane, you’ll feel better about yourself once you land — ever landed in Europe wearing Crocs? You’re also taking a step toward making flying a special occasion again — and you can’t tell me that travel isn’t a cause for celebration.
You’ll make work more pleasant for the flight attendant
Planes are their workplace. No one wants to wait on someone in basketball shorts and dirty flip-flops.