what to wear on long haul flights

Dressing smart on a long haul flight will make what can be a sometime long-gruelling-boring experience much more comfortable and hassle free.

I have made this mistake a couple of times before I got wise. For some reason I don’t always learn my lesson in one go. I would dress for the destination I was heading to, generally somewhere nice and hot, forgetting that planes turn their air-con up to minus a million degrees. You might be able to stomach this on a quick jaunt to Spain, but a 14 hour flight to Thailand and you’ll be shivering like an eskimo without their polar-bearskin.

But then if one is to dress for the arctic-like temperatures on the flight those super-thick woolies will have you sweating in seconds the moment you step of the plane in the tropics.

What to Wear on a Long Haul Flight:

Layers

It is all about the layers. You need warmth on the plane but to feel cool once you hit the tarmac.

Comfort

You need something with little structure and no awkward hems that dig into your skin and cut off your circulation. Nobody wants DVT do they? Let the blood flow and allow your body to swell if it wants to. Ooooh, don’t you just love swollen feet?

Smart-ish

You’re going to be heading through passport control and customs, you want to look presentable and *hopefully* avoid being called up for a routine inspection. Pat downs and 3D scanners are kind of intimidating (although I found that pat-downs were standard issue at Mumbai airport … on a connecting flight!). I’ve also heard on the grapevine that smarter looking passengers are more likely to get upgraded, although I have yet to experience such pleasures myself.

Clever extras

Most airlines worth their salt will provide blankets on long-haul flights. But there are a few who missed the memo. Either way, you can’t do wrong by packing extra. I go everywhere with my trusty sarong and a spare pair of socks. I’ve even been known to wear a beanie hat on a flight because cold ears make me sad.

My recommendations

Tops for Long Haul Flights

TOPS
Loose and layered is the name of the game. Cotton is even better. I wear a vest top, t-shirt or long sleeved top, followed by a cardigan, sweater or light jacket.

  • Long-sleeved Breton Top – you can’t go wrong with stylish stripes and this top is tres chic.
  • Kimono – I’d recommend going for neutrals but do jazz it up by adding colour with accessories or this gorgeous kimono cardigan.
  • Oversized Jumper – would look gorgeous with a pair of skinnies or leggings. this oversized jumper just screams long-haul flight cosiness.

Long Flight Haul Bottoms

BOTTOMS

  • Leggings – in general I live by the mantra that “leggings aren’t trousers”, most of the time they are rather see-through and not really that flattering. However, they are super-practical for long haul flights and when paired with some sneaky layers they prove a treat.
  • Cotton Stretch Trousers – these white cotton trousers are a bargain yet look rather sophisticated. Possibly an option if you’re hoping to bag an upgrade!
  • Jeggings – if leggings don’t quite crack it for you, jeggings are a good compromise. Just make sure they have a stretchy waistband and now extra buttons that might dig in when sat down for a long period of time.

ACCESSORIES

Long Haul Accessories

  • Sarong / Scarf – I always have a scarf and/or sarong handy for keeping me extra warm when the temperature in the plain gets chilly.
  • Hat – for the same reason as above, I can’t stand cold ears and a nice snuggly hat is perfect for keeping warm during the in-flight snnoze.
  • Leather Flat Shoes – these are another great bargain. They’re leather so will breathe and move as  your feet might swell on the plane.

Long Haul Flight Health

  • Lip Balm – the air in the plane cabin is incredibly drying and the first thing to go are my lips. This gorgeous lip balm is also tinted so perfect for a quick pick me up on arrivals.
  • Moisturiser – again, I need all the extra help I can get keeping my face moisturised against the dry air in the pressurised cabin.
  • Pocket Tissues – one of my must-haves on all travels and outings. They have a multitude of uses and well worth keeping handy. This brand do loads of fun novelty style tissues.

Long Haul Flight Comfort

  • Travel Pillow – I know some long haul flights provide you with pillows but I always find they drop or move position. So I always pack my own travel pillow to inflate on the plane.
  • Travel Socks – these are an absolute must if you get swollen feet and ankles. Plus they add to the snugness you’re after.
  • Eye Mask – sleeping on flights is pretty tricky for me so I always pack an eye mask to shut out any unwanted light and distraction.

 

And here’s a guide on what to wear on a long haul flight for men.

9 Responses

  1. Kim

    Love these suggestions. i have a flight to Florida this month, might have to pick up a pair of those moccasins for the journey – they look so comfy!

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      They are insanely cheap for real leather too, only 20 quid!

      Enjoy Florida, I’m sure it’ll be rad.

      Reply
  2. Gemma

    This is exactly how I dress for any flight over 5 hours! Usually I wear some kind of tunic / dress over the leggings but I am all about the stretchy, breathable fabrics and the big scarf.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      Coming from you, Gemma, that’s a big compliment (and possibly seal of approval). :-)
      Thank you!

      Reply
  3. laura

    getting to sleep on the plane for me is always the hardest, and I find my hair dries out loads too! I take a light moisturiser and i can put it in my hair too :)

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      That’s a great idea. I wonder if something like a small pot of coconut oil would work too – it’s great for face and skin.

      Reply
  4. Zoe

    I always dress for comfort whatever the flight length – nothing too tight or restricting, soft materials, always take a sweater and some nice cosy socks.

    One thing I tried on my most recent long haul flight was actually changing once on board. I wore jeans and a top but had some nice joggers and a baggy sweater (and some slipper socks – ever fashionable) in my carry-on bag. It was genius! I was comfortable, warm, and when I got off after 12 hours having changed back into my jeans I felt refreshed and clean.

    Reply
    • Elizabeth

      I like the idea of changing outfits. Maybe I’ll give that a go on my long haul flight back from Thailand. Thanks for the tip Zoe!

      Reply
  5. Deitra

    Going to be going to England with my older sister (not sure when) so this article helpful as it will be my first time on a long haul flight . We will be flying from the US to Finland to England . Will definitely have to remember to pack chapstick and to wear either stocking or leggings with socks .

    Reply

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