Air Travel: Is The Clothing You Wear Important?

When it comes to air travel and clothing, we are all different. There are some travelers whose travel attire is a business suit – perhaps out of necessity, or because of the implied credibility a business suit can bring to the wearer. Others may wear  traditional jeans – either because they classify jeans as comfortable and functional, or because that’s their preferred style and the image they want to project. Still others wear something as comfortable as possible, such as their pajamas (certainly NOT recommended) or sweat pants (very comfortable, but not always the most attractive option).

With continual refinements and increases in airport security and the accompanying changes in air travel rules, there are many individuals who wonder if the clothing they wear to the airport is important. If you are one of those individuals, you must take into account not only the facts of air travel, but the inconsistencies and vagaries of dealing with human beings. Often, it is a judgment call as to whether your attire might cause you a challenge in getting through airport security in an efficient manner.

It seems as if ever since airplanes became the ‘hands-down’ most popular way to travel, a focus has been placed on comfort. Regardless of whether or not you will be taking a long flight, you will want to be comfortable. There is nothing worse than wearing an itchy sweater or tight pair of pants during what may become a long flight.

Unless you bring a chance of clothes with you and place them in your carryon bag, wearing something ill-fitting or uncomfortable means you are out of luck. That is why it is important that you think of what you will be wearing before you leave for the airport. Even if you are traveling for business, you should be able to change in to your business clothes as soon as you arrive at your destination, perhaps even in the airport bathrooms.

When it comes to comfort, as previously mentioned, many air travelers make the decision to wear sweat pants and a comfortable top – while not always the most fashion-forward solution, it does make for relatively stress-free travel from a comfort perspective. You may find in most cases that these types of clothes can make transitioning through airport security checkpoints a little easier.

This is because most sweat pants are not made with any metal items, unless they are decorated with rhinestones, nailheads and the like. Essentially, this means that you should be able to enter the security checkpoint and leave it quicker than most other travelers, such as the travelers who are decked out in multiple accessories that might need to be removed prior to screening, or might set off a security scanner.

When it comes to accessories, you will find that a number of different items set off airport metal detectors – and because these machines are constantly observed, recalibrated and adjusted, it’s difficult to predict exactly WHAT will set them off. That is why most airport security officers request that you remove all of your jewelry prior to entering the scanner. Once your jewelry is removed, you will need to place it in a small bin, which will be scanned right along with your carryon luggage. Whether you have rings or a necklace, you are advised to remove them, if you can. For your convenience, you can leave your earrings on. If by chance, your earrings set the metal detectors off, you will likely be pulled aside and airport security should easily be able to tell whether or not your earrings were what set off the alarms through the use of a handheld scanner.

In addition to jewelry, you will find that your belt and / or the belt buckle may set off an airport’s metal detector. For that reason, a large number of airports have requested that you remove your belts before entering the metal detectors as a precaution and to avoid holding up the line. Since a large number of travelers wear belts, this is done to help speed up the process of checking each and every passenger. If you do not enjoy removing some of your jewelry or removing your belt, it is advised that you leave those items at home or pack them in your carry-on luggage.

Recently, a number of new air travel rules have been implemented. One of those rules requires that all passengers remove their shoes for screening. Your shoes, once removed, will be scanned by an x-ray machine, right along with the rest of your carryon luggage. In recent years, only random passengers were asked to remove their shoes, but now everyone is. For that reason, you will to wear simple shoes that you can easily remove and put back on.

Another air travel rule, recently implemented, is the ban on liquids. It also means that you are prohibited from placing liquid beauty supplies in your carryon luggage unless they are of a certain size – and many companies have responded to this restriction by manufacturing travel size “sets” of their products for easy use during travel.

One concern for some women is the allowance of gel or water filled bras, and the sensitivity of airport scanners with regard to underwire bras. Currently, you are allowed to wear these types of bras onboard an airplane. If you are in fact pulled aside for a handheld scan, be sure to mention it discreetly. Bra manufacturers have, for the most part, switched away from actual metal underwires, but for full-figured women, they may still be an option.

Since there are few hard and fast rules or restrictions on the clothing that you can wear while flying the great skies, you need to choose for yourself and use a healthy dose of common sense. Check the ‘alert status’ prior to traveling to the airport and use the current level to help you make the decision on what to wear. There is no need to cause yourself or anyone else an additional delay in clearing airport security.

Recent events and changes in airport security have also included “hair pat-downs” – where women with extensive or elaborate hairdos are having their hair patted down as a potential weapon source or place to hide something. If you have the freedom to do so, wearing your hair in an easily-scanned and / or observed style can limit the need for airport security personnel to depend on their own judgment as to whether to pull you out of line for special inspection.

Whether you want to be fashionable or comfortable, it is all up to you – be an informed passenger and try to minimize any accessories or embellishments in your hair or clothing that might set off an airport security scan. You can still express your personality and individuality without causing yourself or someone else a delay. Use color and clothing shape to distinguish yourself from other passengers in a good way.