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If you’ve been following this blog, you’ve heard that my family will be flying in business class seats next summer (using miles and points, of course). It will be our first time flying in business class. I am excited for the added level of comfort these seats bring, and I hope we can all get some good sleep to and from Europe.
Even though our trip is still many months away, I’ve been thinking about what to pack and which suitcases will be best for schlepping around Switzerland by train. As I was thinking about these things, a memory of a big controversy came to my mind.
Dressing Up (Or Not) for Business/First Class Flights
Five years ago, a blogger posted a photo of him sitting in first class wearing a tshirt (Dan from Points With a Crew). Apparently, his attire offended some folks. Many people commented that he should have dressed the part to blend into first class better. You can read the post here.
Another blogger posted a photo of him wearing shorts in business class. Apparently that was very controversial as well. Oh, the horrors!
People certainly have strong opinions on both sides. This article on TPG has advice from travel etiquette expert Myka Meier:
“When traveling business class, it’s important to always wear clothing that is considered business attire. I always recommend [dressing] for the occasion or environment you are in, and just as you would dress more formally for a nice restaurant, you are expected to do the same when flying. This is not only out of respect for the establishment, or airline class, but for the other passengers onboard your class.”
Travel + Leisure asserted earlier this year that dressing up on a flight gives you a better chance of getting upgraded. However, Ben from One Mile at a Time offers some logical reasons why this probably isn’t the case.
I’ve never joined the conversation on this topic because my family always flies in economy. Until now.
Why We Won’t Be Dressing Up
I booked our flights in business class for practical reasons. I want us to be comfortable and get sleep. I’m not trying to show our status or spend the entire flight looking to impress others or get pampered.
I don’t think flying in business class is the same as visiting an upscale resort or restaurant. It’s a mode of transportation. People on board will be changing into PJs and sleeping, for goodness sake. We will be sitting in seats that are mostly obstructed from other people’s view.
We won’t be wearing shorts and flip-flops, but only because they’re not practical for a long flight. More often than not, we are cold on airplanes.
I’ll likely wear leggings with a short-sleeved comfortable shirt and bring a sweater or jacket to layer. My kids will wear leggings or comfortable athletic pants/jeans with shirts as well. And yes, it’s possible their shirts will have some words printed on them. Nothing offensive, of course, but they won’t be wearing button-down shirts. We won’t look like we’re heading to the gym or the beach, but we also won’t look like we’re heading to a business meeting or a Homecoming dance.
I think that the idea of an unwritten dress code for business or first class is antiquated. And if someone is offended by the appearance of my family, that reflects more on them than it does on us.
Of course, if I were on a business trip or traveling with corporate colleagues, I would dress in business appropriate attire. But our upcoming trip is not such an occasion.
I really don’t understand why some people get so worked up over how other people dress. This discussion reminds me of the controversy surrounding dressing up for dinner on a cruise ship. Even though most cruise lines have relaxed the dress codes to reflect the times, some people still insist that dressing up for dinner is a tradition that needs to continue.
I say, do what makes you happy, comfortable and confident. Don’t let how other people dress ruin your experience.
Do you think people should dress nicer if they are flying in business or first class? Why or why not?
Nancy lives near Dallas, Texas, with her husband and three kids. Her favorite vacations include the beach, cruising and everything Disney.