Take Your Shoes Off When You Fly

Regular readers know that I believe bare feet and planes don’t mix. However if you want to stay comfortable on long flights I agree with this – you should definitely take off your shoes. But there are caveats.

First, no one should see a man’s feet on the plane. Wear socks, don’t put your feet into someone else’s space. And most importantly put your shoes back on before going to the lavatory. That’s not water spilled on the floor.

But the broader point is to be as unconstricted sa possible. Dress in sweatpants. Or bring airline pajamas. I usually fly in jeans, but want to be more comfortable on an overnight flight or anything that’s 10 or more hours.

  • I brought United Polaris pajamas on my Air Canada Vancouver – Sydney flight this past summer (Air Canada really needs PJs in long haul business class).

  • I try to use an airline’s own pajamas (e.g. first class pajamas flying business class where not offered), or at least stay within a joint business venture or alliance. So I tend to wear American Airlines pajamas on overnight British Airways flights.

  • I have enough airline PJs that I can even toss them after wearing, though my favorites I’ll take home and wash.

Another tip is to bring disposable slippers. Sure, take your shoes off. But that doesn’t mean you want to walk around barefoot, or in your socks. A long haul business class amenity kit may come with socks, and you can wear those over your socks (or swap them). And they may even give you slippers.

Recently, though, I aggravated a years-old foot injury, and then made the dumb mistake of working out on it. So I flew in a boot to protect the foot, but I didn’t want to wear the boot on a long flight and though it was overwater, I was in a domestic first product. So I brought airline slippers from a previous flight in my laptop bag.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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  1. Just a piece of advice, be sure to have your shoes ON during the takeoff and landing phases of the flight….just in case

  2. I am always amazed at how many people walk into the lavatory in their socks or bare feet! Remember… it’s a PUBLIC BATHROOM!!

    Be sure to bring comfortable shoes. Tight shoes will be even tighter when you land. And, as previously mentioned, be sure to have shoes on for takeoff and landing.

  3. I always remove my shoes during the flight. If I need to get up, I put them back on. – This is not rocket science or brain surgery – it is just common sense.( I wear slip on loafers). And I concur with “Lastmate” – I wear them on takeoff and put them back on for landing.

  4. with all due respect, there is nothing less sanitary about women’s uncovered feet than men’s. Sandals are the norm for men in many parts of the world. Washed and clean is something both sexes are capable of doing or not.

  5. I don’t want to see either men’s or women’s bare feet on the plane. Don’t know why you draw a distinction.

  6. In bucking the re3nd here, I usually just go to the Lav in my travel socks? Why? Well, I can see the puddles and avoid them. If something has dried little, if any, will get on the socks. I take them off before landing and just put on my Keen’s, so the socks touch the floor of the plane.

    I’m sure that even more than responded opposite won’t agree, and that’s your prerogative. Just not worth my time to go through machinations to piss.


  7. I wear airline PJs on long haul flights too — more comfortable and also like arriving with my clothes clean/fresh and not slept in. I’ve not followed your suggested alliance etiquette… have been amused/surprised by how many passengers will recognize the PJs despite no airline logo — “oh, I loved my Virgin/Qatar/Swiss/whatever PJs” or “oh, I loved flying xxx airline”. Also surprised by how well they wash and can be reused so many times as it has been a while since an airline gave me a set. I admit to still having an old LH first class sweatshirt in my car’s emergency bag.

  8. Yes ALWAYS keep you shoes ON during take off and landing. You don’t want bare feet on a debris strewn tarmac in the event of evacuation. Keep you wallet, phone, keys and passport on you as well. Leave everything else behind.

  9. And you also don’t want flip flops during an evacuation either. Wear good sturdy shoes, preferably lace-up, that will stay on your feet. Unreal how many people do not realize this.

  10. If you are my age if you take your shoes off it may not be easy to get them back on. Of course if you are my age you were raised to keep your feet off the furniture too. Keep your feet on the floor and I don’t care otherwise. This is not to suggest that some are overly concerned with other people’s feet.

  11. Sweatpants on planes? Any modern, refined gentleman knows that sweatpants are for the gym and strip club only.

  12. I always wear compression stockings on a long flight. I can take my shoes off and avoid most of the ankle/foot swelling, plus help prevent DVT. I do wear disposable slippers and FC pajamas from one or another airline.

  13. @ vodkasmoothie
    There is no such thing as a modern gentlemen. And I didn’t get Rag&Bone or Yeezy sweatpants to sweat in.

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