Choosing what footwear to chose to wear on a plane can be hard. A good pair of slippers is designed to be comfortable and kind to your feet, which sounds like just the right choice for flying, doesn’t it?
So, can you really wear slippers on a plane? There are certainly no rules about the issue. People wear all kinds of things on planes these days in an attempt to stay comfortable. Yoga Pants, sweat suits, even pajamas, and yes, slippers. Even celebrities do it. So yes, you can wear slippers on a plane, but should you?
According to some industry experts, as well as those who work on airplanes on daily basis – pilots and cabin crew – some slippers are a very bad, even dangerous choice. The problem is, they say, that any shoes that are backless, as many slippers are, pose a serious safety risk, both to the person wearing them and to other passengers.
This is because backless shoes, including backless slippers, offer very little in the way of stability. They also often offer very little in the way of traction either. That means that if there is an emergency of some kind, and passengers need to exit the plane in a hurry unstable footwear is going to slow you down and maybe even cause you to trip. If you trip you’ll slow others down too, potentially leading to even more problems than already exist.
So is that it? No slippers on planes? Even though they would be more comfortable, better able to accommodate the swollen feet most of us get when flying and would certainly be less hassle at airport security when you have to take your shoes off? The good news is that the answer is not necessarily.
Choosing the right kinds of slippers to wear on a plane
Take one look at the shelves that line your local high street shoe store, or at the product pages of the big online shoe retailers and you’ll quickly see that slippers for both man and women come in all kinds of shapes, sizes and styles these days, as well as very varied price ranges. And among those many offerings, you can actually find slippers that would be great for wearing during air travel. You just have to know what you are looking for. With this in mind, here’s a look at just what might make for a great pair of travel slippers so that you can stay safe and comfortable when you fly and still manage to look relatively stylish as well.
A closed back
As we just mentioned, flight safety experts say that open backed shoes are dangerous when flying (they say the same about high heels as well by the way) so it’s obviously important to look for a pair of slippers that have a nice solid back.
This does give you more options than you might imagine. Some manufacturers offer travel slippers that offer open toes and a semi-open back that still feature a sturdy back strap that is designed to keep them on your feet securely without being too tight. These might be the perfect choice for a summer trip, especially as since they look more like rather robust beach shoes than slippers you’ll be ready to hit the beach as soon as you get out of the airport.
Another alternative worth considering for winter travel are bootie slippers. These slippers are literally soft boots, so the right ones cradle and support your feet in the way your favorite pair of winter boots might but are still relatively easy to slip on and off when you reach the head of the airport security line.
The other concern that safety experts have about wearing slippers on a plane is that they do not provide enough traction. Even in a non-emergency situation, the aisles of a plane can be a little tricky to navigate so a very smooth soled slipper may indeed lead to a nasty trip and fall accident (and that’s a terrible way to start any vacation or even a business trip)
You can, however, find all kinds of slippers, some for men, some for women, and some that are designed to be unisex, that do offer the traction you need to stay on your feet while in the air. And some of them are even very fashion forward. For example, several shoe manufacturers, including the likes of Danskin, offer dainty and elegant ballet shoe style slippers that have a built-in anti-slip sole that offers great traction as well as a nice shot of pretty style.
Men will also find that there are some fashion-forward choices available when looking for a pair of slippers with a non-slip sole. Some resemble a softer version of a sneaker – making them a great match for a casual traveling outfit and you can even find leather moccasin slippers that would not look out of place with a stylish suit, so would make a great choice for the business traveler.
No one really wants to get on a plane looking like they had no time to change out of their nightclothes before heading to the airport, so the traditional fluffy slipper look may not be one you really want to rock onboard a plane. The paparazzi may not be waiting for YOU at the gate but there is a good chance your friends/family or colleagues will be.
If you are looking for a more stylish slipper there are plenty to choose from. It is unlikely that you’ll find that they’ll be the least expensive options, but if you fly often, have feet that are already prone to discomfort and swelling or you just want to be as comfortable as possible for the duration of your flight – but still look good in the Arrivals Lounge then the investment may be one that’s well worth making.
Other ways to keep your feet comfortable during a flight
Unless you can afford First Class the average plane ride can be very uncomfortable, and very hard on your feet, even if you are barely moving for the duration (which is actually a part of the problem. A great pair of travel slippers will help a lot, but there are some other things you can do as well to help keep your feet comfortable when flying:
Prevent swelling with an inflatable foot rest
Yes, there isn’t very much leg room in most airline seats but there is usually just enough for a small inflatable footrest and you’ll be (pleasantly) surprised by just how much you can reduce or prevent foot swelling by raising your feet just a few inches off the ground.
If you can’t find this kind of footrest – or think it just looks too dorky – you can also make use of your carry on bag in a pinch if it small enough to fit under the seat. Just make sure that is positioned in such a way that it is not encroaching on anyone else’s space, especially if there is barely enough to ‘go around’ in the first place.
Keep your feet moving with an exercise ball
Part of the reason many people find their feet ache after a flight is simply because they have ‘seized up’ after not moving much for several hours. You can help prevent that from happening by slipping a small exercise ball into your carry on luggage. Choose on that is small enough to slip under your foot, as you can then use it to give yourself a nice little foot massage when things start feeling tight, simply by rolling your foot back and forth over the ball.
Wear comfortable, loose pants
Everyone knows that their legs are connected to their feet, but we often tend to forget that fact when choosing pants to wear on an airplane flight. If you choose tight pants then they will hinder the blood circulation to your lower body, and yes, to your feet, potentially leading to pain, swelling or that very uncomfortable pins and needles feeling that will make it hard for you to stand (and walk) when you finally do get up.
Talk to your doctor
Some people are at increased risk for developing blood clots when they fly, thanks to the lack of movement and the unusual altitude. if you think you may be one of them – if you take blood thinners, have just had surgery or take birth control pills for example, talk to your doctor before you fly, as they may have some special suggestions for you, like wearing compression stockings.