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I will have a rather formal event which I will attend in rather formal (and less comfortable) clothing. After that I will head directly to the airport, without having an opportunity to change.

If I want to change into something more comfy before my flight, where at the airport can I change my clothes?

My criteria are least hassle, avoiding public outcry or suspicions of security staff and avoiding charges.

I am aware that there are bathroom stalls but changing pants in there involves some acrobatics I'd rather avoid, and I'd also rather avoid sneaking into a dark corner at the end of the terminal or changing in front of other travelers.

Further I'm aware that lounges might have a solution to that but I have neither status nor a business class ticket and I'd rather avoid paying north of 20 EUR or USD for getting changed.

Ideally an answer would be valid/useful for airports all over the world but if you do need to narrow it down, I will be travelling from Frankfurt international airport (FRA).

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    Look for the handicapped stall or a family oriented toilet diaper changing stall. They are usually roomier. As long as no one nearby looks like they need it and you are quick, your using it shouldn't inconvenience others. – user13044 Jun 14 '16 at 15:27
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    The real deal is the other way around, when you arrive to attend a formal event and you have your suite with you. I once let a passenger change in the galley before landing, his suit was in this suit bag thing. – Nean Der Thal Jun 14 '16 at 16:27
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    Simply act very suspiciously at security. They will take you to a nice private room and help you take off all your clothes. Then just put the other clothes on afterwards :-) – Nate Eldredge Jun 14 '16 at 16:55
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    @jpatokal Stand on top of your shoes (your casual shoes, not the dress ones.) I've done this before. Take off your shoes and then place you foot on top of them (laces under the sole of your foot) to keep your stocking feet from touching the floor. - This works much better if your "casual" shoes are sneakers rather combat boots, but if you plan ahead you can bring flip-flops/thongs/sandals expressly for this purpose. – R.M. Jun 14 '16 at 18:22
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    Could you change you shirt and such in the cab, then just use the bathroom to change pants? I've seen people change in the bathroom and nobody bats an eye (even changing outside a stall). You're all in an airport traveling all over the world, from 1hr flight to 19hrs, so nobody really thinks it odd if someone changes clothes. We all understand, and have probably been in your position before too. – BruceWayne Jun 14 '16 at 18:43
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If you're willing to pay a bit to avoid hassle, Frankfurt Airport has 5 shower facilities scattered throughout its terminals that can be rented for 6 euros. The stalls aren't exactly luxurious, but they're fully separated, private and kept very clean, so you can change in comfort and take a shower if you feel like it.

Most larger airports worldwide offer similar facilities, usually at much lower prices than full lounge access, occasionally even for free.

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    that's a great tip, did not know about them! – Fattie Jun 14 '16 at 23:54
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    At some airports (like Dubai) these showers are free of charge. Great tip. – Burhan Khalid Jun 15 '16 at 5:43
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JPatokal gives the answer for FRA, but in every restroom in every US airport there is a handicapped stall, where it is easy to change, and typically two clothing hooks to help you.

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    also, in a low traffic bathroom you don't need to go into a stall. Get your new clothes out and ready at the counter/sinks. Listen to hear if someone is coming, change pants. Worst case is a stranger sees your underwear. Now change your shirt. Done. – Kate Gregory Jun 14 '16 at 19:28
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    @KateGregory -- please don't do that. It's so creepy to go into a restroom and there's a guy changing. There is a big gigantic stall you can do whatever you want in. Please. – Malvolio Jun 14 '16 at 23:14
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    malvolio, that is weird you think that's creepy dude! guys change in the men's room (I mean in the "main area") all the time! (I mean not naked, down to the undies.) – Fattie Jun 14 '16 at 23:53
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    Really? I mean, I wouldn't be mortally offended if I saw someone doing it, but I'd think it strange, because I've never seen someone changing outside of a stall. – Urbana Jun 15 '16 at 0:20
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    I have no memory of ever seeing another guy change out in the open in a restroom (and certainly haven't done it myself). Even if it's only down to underwear, that's still more of a locker room thing. There is no reason you can't wait two or three minutes to get into a stall (five if you're going for the handicapped one). – Panzercrisis Jun 15 '16 at 12:30
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Right after security checks (at least in the terminal I used) there were two changing rooms that are probably used for extra security checks.

I asked the security staff if I could use it to get changed and their response was "sure, of course" so I went ahead and did. Indeed nobody even seemed to care.

The changing room featured a chair, enough space and was very clean.

enter image description here

Alternatively let me propose a solution here that has not been mentioned yet:

  • Go to a clothing store in the airport shopping area, find a sales clerk that is free and ask politely if you could use their changing rooms for a second to change your clothes. No guarantee that it'll work but you can try at least.
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    May be worth considering that security areas are overloaded with video surveillance (there are 4 ceiling cameras in the photo above, and the "changing stall" has no roof). I think most countries have laws against video inside washrooms (at least a washroom stall should be camera-free) – Xen2050 Jun 18 '16 at 15:34
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    You might not want to ask if you can "abuse" their changing room, as they probably won't like that much (unless said sales clerk has a good sense of humor). Instead, you'd probably want to ask if you can "use" the changing room. Also, you could just walk into the store, find the changing room, and use it - the old axiom "it's easier to ask forgiveness than permission" might apply. In today's heightened security environment, though, that may not be the best option... – FreeMan Jun 30 '16 at 14:23
  • @FreeMan little pun but better corrected, thanks. Feel free to suggest an edit right away next time :) – mts Jun 30 '16 at 14:25
  • @mts - since this just bubbled up to the recent activity list, I just noticed it. Didn't catch it the first time. Besides, it's more fun it it was left as it was... :) – FreeMan Jun 30 '16 at 15:11
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A few suggestions of various locations which might work depending on your situation and locale:

Find a local gym or hotel or any other place that may have a changing room or private space, and ask if you may change in a private area at their facilities. Being polite and asking nicely will go a long way.

For gyms you may have to pay for a day pass, but this is typically inexpensive, and it would give you something to keep busy while waiting for your flight if there's a long wait between activities.


I am aware that there are bathroom stalls but changing pants in there involves some acrobatics I'd rather avoid.

If you can't find other accommodations, bathrooms are fine, so long as you don't forget your towel. Pack a towel that you don't mind getting dirty, along with a plastic bag to keep it in once you've used it. Changing won't require gymnastics if you have a clean place to stand.


If you're driving to the airport, you can change in your car in the parking lot, although this will typically require being a contortionist rather than an acrobat.


Call the airport you plan on travelling from and ask their customer service what they recommend. They may be able to assist you or have advice that would help prevent you from accidentally being labelled a terrorist which would likely land you in a private room with one-way glass.

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    its actually a good idea to take a plastic bag to stand on, when changing in the men's room, perhaps the disabled stall! nice idea! – Fattie Jun 14 '16 at 23:54
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    Don't use plastic bags, they can slip. – Cem Kalyoncu Jun 15 '16 at 13:22
  • Although changing in the car is not entirely pleasant, I would not put it as a contortionist exercise. – Rui F Ribeiro Jun 16 '16 at 7:41
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    @RuiFRibeiro, it will certainly depend on your size and the size of your car. – zzzzBov Jun 16 '16 at 13:21
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    @JoeBlow -- it may seem a little weird, but unless I'm 100% on the restroom, I stand on my shoes. I don't know if that would work for formal shoes, it might damage them, but it's fine with sneakers. – Malvolio Jun 16 '16 at 19:08
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If you happen to be at Sydney airport they have free showers. Plenty of space to get changed.

6

I've changed in and out of suits in airport restrooms, coffee shop restrooms, in the airplane restroom and in the front, passenger, seat of a 1970s Austin America (r.o.w.: Marina?) while someone else was driving.

Focus. Change shirts, skirts, pants and dresses, and anything under them, in a stall. Stand on your comfy shoes, watch out for wet floors. Look before you commit. Enough paper towels can be carried into the stall and laid on the floor if its icky. Standing at the washroom sinks or other semi-private place risks being immodest, in the opinion of other travelers. But if no-one is there...

Jackets, coats, ties, scarves, hats and shoes can be changed without privacy, socks, if you're quick. As several have noted, formal shoes should go on last, come off first. Carry two plastic bags, so the nice shoes don't scuff each other. Put one in a bag, put that bag and the other shoe in the other bag, at the first opportunity. Switch to comfy socks as you put on each comfy shoe, don't make a show of your bare feet or the socks you took off. Don't change socks at your seat on the plane unless no-one else is seated with you.

Keep comfy clothes, some plastic bags and a couple spare hangers in a carry-on suit bag. Make it a small one that's easy to stow near your seat on the plane.

I used to change socks and underwear at the last hour of intercontinental flights. Refreshing! Especially if you have to a full day of work when you arrive. Start your dirty laundry bag or discard as you wish.

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    +1 for the nice instructions but this would be a better answer to the question "How do I get changed in a narrow space with an icky floor?" Welcome to TSE and hope to see you around :) – mts Jun 17 '16 at 9:36
  • Thanks, m! I'll be at the window taking pictures of the planes. May all your floors be clean and dry! – Bill IV Jul 9 '16 at 2:10
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I have changed clothing a few couple of times in airport bathrooms; as other said, just stand in top of your sneakers/whatever footwear you are using as formal shoes tend to be more delicate.

Another alternative is carrying your suit with you in a suit bag, and changing either in the toilets of the plane before landing if in domestic flights. In very long flights, however, typically the toilet stalls in the airport will be more clean.

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