Although I do not find anything odd about the clothing on this person (might be considered NSFW), I find it surprising that a pilot can ask a passenger to change their clothes before letting them on.

What are some of the definitive examples of inappropriate clothing when flying (keeping aside the obvious choices of travelling in undergarments, T-Shirts displaying controversial political/religious beliefs) that can make the pilot/crew ask me to change ?

  • 10
    Why the australia tag? The flight in question was in the US. Commented May 31, 2016 at 5:42
  • 6
    Don't dress the same as the flight crew.
    – PlasmaHH
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 11:24
  • 18
    Adding a NSFW warning to the link has kind of detracted from the original point that the questioner sees nothing unremarkable in the clothing. It kind of leads to the answer, "wear something safe for work", doesn't it? Commented May 31, 2016 at 11:48
  • 19
    I agree with @SteveJessop. Adding a NSFW tag kinda defeats the purpose (and is misleading, it's literally a picture of a girl wearing a sweater, shorts (albeit short ones), and thigh-high socks. Nothing NSFW there.
    – Doc
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 14:13
  • 3
    Her dress is certainly not safe for some workplaces. She is not wearing a hard hat.
    – Carsten S
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 8:40

7 Answers 7


I think you have covered all the typical reasons; I would also avoid T-Shirts with images of guns, explosives, etc. The link you shared with a woman with very short shorts could be seen by some as underwear. But back in the day, Southwest Airlines in the United States used to have their "Stewardesses" wear hot-pants.


That depends on the cultural background of the country you are flying (from and to), and how relatively conservative or liberal the decision maker is.

Generally, if it gets you in a good restaurant (in that country), you will have no problems on the airplane.

Edit: I should have said 'medium level restaurant', I didn't mean 'upscale', just not 'cheapo' either

  • 16
    You suggest to handle a low-cost carrier like a good restaurant. I think they should be treated like any other mode of public transportation. What doesn't get you kicked off the subway, shouldn't get you kicked off a flight! Commented May 31, 2016 at 7:06
  • 7
    @AlexanderKosubek That might be an ideal, but not wise to say it's the case. For one thing, there's no one checking your ticket and supposedly your dress sense as you board the subway.
    – Tim Malone
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 7:52
  • 6
    Alexander - It's not up to you as a passenger what should be appropriate. It's up to the airline, its staff, and the captain. You may decide to wear whatever you like, and the captain may decide to throw you off the plane.
    – Rory Alsop
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 10:31
  • 5
    @AlexanderKosubek well, off with my pants, then! Commented May 31, 2016 at 11:22
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    -1. Either you have much lower standards of "good restaurant" than I do, or much higher standards for airline-appropriate clothing. A lot of people fly in sweat pants and a t-shirt, especially on overnight flights. Commented May 31, 2016 at 12:24

It is easier to answer the question the way you worded it than the other way around. Finding a list of items that will get you kicked out of a plane probably depends on local customs and the pilot's mood!

What will not have you kicked out of a plane is easier. For men, trousers without holes which cover entirely undergarments. A woman can wear pants too but long skirts are acceptable. In many places one can go shorter but if you are connecting through some more religious countries, keep it below the knees.

Wearing a top which covers your upper body, including the shoulders also not get you kicked off the plane unless it is transparent or features offensive words or imagery. Even if you transit through some country where women cover their hair, a tourist is rarely asked to do with on the plane or in the airport.

As for examples that will get out. This will vary greatly, if you take a charter flight to beach destinations for example, you will often see people in shorts and bikini tops. In many other I areas, I suspect this be enough to get kicked out. Very shear materials or belly-tops are also likely to be frowned upon.


It's not a rule on paper that decides what's allowed, it's a human with their own history and beliefs who has that authority - if you can't board the flight it doesn't exactly help you that the airline apologizes to you afterwards because the decision to throw you off was clearly wrong.

People get thrown off flights for the most ridiculous reasons, so my personal advice is: Dress like you always do, don't bother with the small chance that you'll meet someone wanting to abuse their power, and if bad luck hits you, revel in the fact that you now have a good story to tell, while the power-tripping simpleton who threw you off the plane is probably getting fired for it.

If you want to be more specific:

  • Anything with a political slogan.
  • Anything with a religious slogan.
  • Anything that can be misunderstood as a political of religous slogan.
  • Anything that can be seen as hate speech (no Metal band t-shirts)
  • No ripped T-Shirts
  • Anything that associates you with a socially accepted target of hate speech.
  • Anything that is somewhat sexual in nature (no breast hair).
  • 1
    The story you link doesn't seem like a ridiculous reason to me at all. The flight, on some sort of regional turboprop, was weight-restricted, which can happen sometimes. Nobody would give up their seat voluntarily (in exchange for compensation), so this passenger was bumped. While that's unfortunate and surely ruined his day, it's how airlines work. People are usually bumped because there aren't enough seats available (as a result of overbooking), but in this case, there was an available seat, but the plane was weight restricted. He was bumped because of the plane's weight, not his own. Commented May 31, 2016 at 23:42
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    @Zach I linked 5 stories, not 1. The story claims he was bumped because of his weight. If what media report is in any way representing the truth or not is a whole other story. I did not personally fact check any of these 5 stories, or the story linked by the OP.
    – Peter
    Commented May 31, 2016 at 23:48
  • 2
    Fair enough. I didn't realize there were five separate links (I was referring to the 2nd one). I don't deny that people are removed from planes for stupid reasons, but they make up a small proportion of the millions of people who fly every day. Commented May 31, 2016 at 23:50
  • 1
    Definitely agree with the someone fired part. If you think you're being unfairly treated, complain loudly to the airline. And then to the media if the airline does anything other than make it perfect. If you have a legit gripe, it shouldn't be hard to rise to the top of the outrage news circuit.
    – user44170
    Commented Jun 1, 2016 at 3:02

There are a wide variety of reasons why you may be denied boarding. I described some of the alleged security reasons here with references: Physical appearance and clothing, do they affect the passenger's chances of getting on the plane?

In the example in question, the reason was not security (or a pretence at security), it was (allegedly) decency. From the article:

The airline’s policy states that they have the right to remove anyone from a flight ‘whose clothing is lewd, obscene, or patently offensive’.

Personally I don't think the clothing is 'lewd', 'obscene' or 'patently offensive', but it's not up to me. The airline in essence has the right to deny boarding for any reason; if you ask on avation.se they will tell you the pilot will make the final call. I would expect that if you flew with an Iranian carrier, the standards they would apply would differ substantially from (e.g.) a Swedish carrier. I think your quest for 'definitive examples' is not going to be fruitful, as this is a judgment call. However, the link above will take you to some ridiculous decisions.


It is illegal for civilians to wear camouflage clothing in Trinidad & Tobago, so if you're heading that way you should avoid wearing clothing (or carrying luggage) that features any camouflage patterns.

When I flew there (from the UK) last year we were advised that we would not be allowed to board our flight if were so attired.


Temperature in Boston, MA on 2016-05-25: 88F (31°C).

Temperature in Seattle, WA on 2016-05-25: 66F (19°C).

Sudden changes in temperature can make a person sick. The pilot was simply trying to protect this young woman's health by suggesting she cover up with appropriate clothing.

Thus, to answer your question: Wear clothing suitable for the destination's weather and it won't be an issue.


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