If you sit on an airplane for 8+ hours, it’s important to wear comfortable clothes. In this article, I’ll tell you what clothes I recommend to wear on long-haul flights. I wrote this article from a male perspective, as that’s what my personal experience is limited to. But I shall share my wife’s expertise in a future blog post.
The golden age of air travel vs. today
Back in the days, traveling on an airplane was a special occasion and passengers used to dress up for it. These days, I still see the occasional passenger board a long-haul flight wearing a suit and tie, but they usually sit in first or business class. On overnight trips, those folks then often change to pajamas once the plane is airborne.
The other extreme is those guys who show up in pajamas or sweatpants that look like pajamas. I travel over 100,000 miles per year and have tried various clothing options, depending on the class of service I was traveling in.
When I travel in business- or first class, I usually wear at least jeans or slacks and a nice shirt. On long-haul or overnight flights I change into pajamas or sweatpants, especially on planes with seats that convert into beds.
However, most of the time I travel in coach class, which means tight and very uncomfortable seats. While I am writing this, I’m sitting on a train from Munich Airport to Salzburg, after having spent 8.5 hours in, what felt like the most uncomfortable Comfort+ seat on Delta. Fortunately, I could get some sleep, with my butt and legs having fallen asleep as soon as I sat down.
My favorite travel outfit
Kühl Konfidant Air pants
Last year, on another Delta flight to Munich, the couple who was sitting in the row next to us wore Kühl pants. I took a note of the brand which I hadn’t known until that point and looked them up a couple of months later.
To me, the pants are the most crucial piece of clothing during air travel as they can be restricting and thus become very uncomfortable. The Kühl pants are neither! They seem to have a perfect fit, with sufficient room in critical areas (crotch). They also have hidden air vents, so you don’t sweat as easily. But the main reason why I decided to buy those pants was their fashionable look, considering they are outdoor pants. To me, Konfidant Air pants are the best and most comfortable pants I have worn on an airplane yet.
Kühl Spyfire Down Jacket
I prefer to travel light, which is not easy in winter as I usually need to bring a warm coat. For an upcoming one-week trip to Austria and Switzerland, I wanted to get a soft shell jacket, but REI didn’t have the one I wanted. The sales associate recommended a down jacket instead, and I fell in love with the Kühl Spyfire. It’s ultra-light, and when rolled up it’s the size of a large grapefruit. As a result, it takes little space, and I can even store it in my backpack if needed. At the same time, it’s super warm and enough for temperatures around freezing when layered with a shirt and sweater/pullover. I had planned to wear it with an Under Armour shirt and a fleece sweater. The latter I forgot at home, but the jacket kept me warm in the plane and when I was waiting at the train station despite the wind and temperatures hovering just above freezing.
Under Armour shirt
I usually opt for moisture-wicking shirts during air travel and Under Armour is my favorite brand. Most airplane seat covers aren’t very breathable, so it’s important to move moisture away from your body.
Comfortable and functional clothing can make long-haul air travel much more comfortable, especially if you fly in coach class. But as much as I usually don’t wear sweatpants and Flipflops for grocery shopping on a Sunday morning, I make an effort not to look like I just fell out of bed when boarding a plane. The good news is that brands like Kühl offer clothing that looks good and that is comfortable and functional at the same time. In fact, I think my new Kühl pants are more comfortable than my sweatpants.