Why don’t we dress up for flights anymore?

I remember my first flight with immense fondness. I was 10 years old, being sent on an exciting solo outing to my grandparents’ holiday home in Sydney. My mother dressed me up with the same care she showed on my first day of school.

I found myself seated next a stranger in a business suit. He kindly let me switch to the window seat before we took off.

All around me, people were immaculately dressed, as if they were taking part in an airborne cocktail party. Even at that age, when even tiny things were new and exciting, it struck me that everybody on board was happy to be there; eager to look and act their best. It seemed as much a special occasion for them as it did for me.

On my most recent flight, I was stuck between a woman in tracksuit pants, sweeping the sandwich crumbs off her lap, and a man snoring loudly within the embrace of an unwieldy doughnut pillow. We live in the era of comfort over style, and for many, that’s a fair trade.

I couldn’t help but compare my flights then and now and wonder: when did the glamour go out of air travel?

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We dress up for the things that are important to us. In the age of convenient, low-cost air travel, it seems flying simply isn’t on that list anymore. It’s gone from a special occasion to a simple means of transportation. It’s understandable and perfectly acceptable. As times change, the novelty and wonder can be found in new and different experiences.

But isn’t there still a little wonder to be felt in flying? And shouldn’t our dress standards reflect that?

Personally, I still get a little thrill every time a plane takes off. It still boggles the mind that human ingenuity can get something so large so seamlessly off the ground, and I don’t ever want to lose that appreciation.

When I dress up for a flight today, I genuinely feel like I’m a jetsetter. There’s a tiny but very real thrill to standing out from the crowd. The ten-year-old in me will see this a special occasion. I don’t dress up on a flight to show maturity; I do it to keep in touch with that inner child.

Do you dress up on flights? Do you miss the days when this was normal and expected? Or is there appeal in dressing down for comfort instead?