Do You Have To “Dress The Part” In First Class?

It's always fun to have interesting discussions about travel etiquette via the blog. Many people ask me if there is a dress code for first-class flights (internal or domestic) and if it is appropriate to wear a suit when sitting at the end of the plane. This post is my attempt to share my thoughts. I'm looking forward to reading the opinions of OMAAT readers.
What to wear on a plane

Personaly, I believe the same rules of clothing etiquette should be applied in business, economy, and first classes. I'm very easy-going so I think:

It is important to wear clean, non-smelly clothing (and beyond that, don't let your clothes smell bad).

It is important to cover all aspects of the matter (although opinions are often divergent about what it means).

Follow cultural norms of the country you are flying to. Saudia, for instance, requires that women cover their legs and forbids men from wearing shorts.

Close-toed shoes are best, but you can choose to wear them if you don't want to. However, if you do, make sure your feet aren't painful to look at and smell good.

These are both rules and etiquette tips. They should be used regardless of what class of service you are traveling in. The one that covers everything is probably the most difficult of all the above. This is roughly the same as the airline's dress code, but it's often used subjectively to get people off planes and against curvier women.

Saudia is one the few airlines that has a dress code

You don't need to be dressed up to fly first-class

Many people prefer to dress up for flights in premium cabins. I understand why they choose to do this. I hope they will respect others when they choose not to.

Let me tell you why you don't need to dress up for flying. Why is it that airlines give you slippers and pajamas to wear in first class? Do you think you have to be dressed up for flying?

Emirates first class pajamas

Slippers in Emirates First Class

Many people draw parallels between dining at top restaurants and eating in luxury restaurants. However, last time I checked, most restaurants don't provide slippers or pajamas to change into before you order. It gets even better. Where else can you get pajamas and caviar at 35,000 feet? It's just flippin amazing, isn't it?

People like to refer back to the glory days of flying when people were dressed up. Although I don't know the exact number of decades that this argument has been around, it is important to remember that flying was a different mode for transportation back then.

50 years ago, airplanes were not sleeping quarters. They were social clubs, restaurants, and cigar bars. Also, flying was not something people did every week, but it was something much more rare and, inflation adjusted, much more expensive. Everything about the flying experience, from economy to first class, is now better than it was back in the old days (hello Emirates A380 first-class shower! Sometimes it's for the better (hello Emirates A380 first class shower!). In other cases, it's worse (hello US airlines! .

There's nothing better than going to a bar dressed in your pajamas. You will love it!

What should I wear to fly?

Although I don't think anyone should seek my fashion advice (at least not for most), I do wear athleisure-type clothing when I fly. If you don't look closely, I wear sweats that look like dress pants, a sweater, and dressier footwear.

It doesn't matter if I fly Emirates first or Spirits Big Front Seat, it is my go-to. It's versatile and can be used in any temperature.

Why shouldn't I wear more formal clothes on planes? I usually travel with only a carry-on and want to keep the more expensive clothes for when I'm actually on the ground. It is hard to find clothes that don't wrinkle as much on a plane. Add in the possibility of spills and it becomes a terrible combination.

Bottom line

I respect the right of everyone to wear whatever they like on planes, regardless of whether it is in a suit or casual outfit. I don't agree with those who think it is wrong to dress down for long flights. Many airlines encourage passengers change into slippers and pajamas once they are onboard.

How do you dress when flying? Are you comfortable in your premium cabin?