How to Dress Comfortably for a Long Flight

Savvy fliers know that it takes a combination of factors to have a pleasing travel experience, and comfort plays a large part in it. It’s why it’s best to have travel clothes and outfits that must not be left as a last-minute thought.

A travel outfit is essential for a typical traveler – not just for the photos but for your comfort. The best travel clothes won’t slow down your stride at the airport or make you twitch uncomfortably in your cabin seat. Alternating air cabin temperatures and your destination climate need to be considered, as well as preserving your style.

Long pullover or cardigan

A woman wearing a cardigan
Full body side portrait of travel woman walking at station with suitcase and cellphone

Since you’ll be seated most of the time on the plane, it’s essential to wear a top layer that’s a bit longer so that your back isn’t exposed. As the flight progresses and you slide down the seat, it’s nice to have something that still covers your back. Wearing something long will keep you warm as flights can get chilly, and airplane blankets are not the warmest. But when it’s warm on board, you can fold your pullover or cardigan to serve as a pillow.


A woman wearing a denim jacket
Casual young woman sitting using her cell phone while waiting to board a plane at the airport terminal waiting room

This outerwear piece is the fastest way to look chic and elevate your casual wear underneath. Wear a jacket in a neutral style that will work seamlessly with your other travel pieces. Depending on the weather, you can opt for a chunkier or thicker jacket made of wool fabric. To enhance your mobility during your trip, avoid stiffer textures like leather.

Scarf or pashmina

A woman wearing a scarf
Texting in the city street

When it comes to traveling by air, scarves can offer double or even triple functions. The right texture, size, and design will make you look smart and fend off the chills. It can keep your neck warm and wrap it around you, but it can also serve as an extra blanket for your upper body without actually having to bring a blanket on board. You can also wrap it around your head to act as a sleeping mask. Plus, thick scarves can also be folded up to be used as a little pillow.

Scarves can also add depth to your airport ensemble and add color and character to your outfit. It’s an accessory that will surely come in handy when the air cabin temperature drops.

T-shirt or top

A woman wearing a button-down shirt in the airport
Portrait of young Asian tourist woman with mask for protection from corona virus outbreak social distancing at the airport

Whether you’re used to wearing casual short-sleeved shirts or a smarter button-down shirt, your top needs to be versatile so it can be worn on its own or combined with other travel clothes. Make sure that you wear something that doesn’t fit too tightly and still covers the rest of your lower back when you’re seated.

Your tolerance to the cold will determine how many tops you layer with. It’s always best to start with a top or a shirt that’s comfy on its own when it gets hot on the plane and can be layered up when the temperature drops down.

Comfortable trousers

A woman wearing white trousers
Woman in elegant clothes with copy space

Trousers are better to wear on the plane over shorts and skirts. These ensure that bare legs won’t make contact with airport germs and plane seats. Your journey will involve lots of movement, like standing in a line that moves at a snail’s pace or walking briskly at the airport to catch your flight. Make sure your pants won’t restrict your movement.

If you’re comfortable with jeans, then go for it, but khakis are more comfortable than them. Dress pants, while they are stylish, can limit your movement. Khakis breathe better than both, and it offers a casual yet professional look.

Loose pants

Loose pants are also a great option for better mobility, breathability, and enough covering. However, they are a point of discussion – you can wear a loose top and still look classy, but achieving a fashionable look with a loose top and bottom is harder.

If you’ve worn skinny jeans on a long flight and you’re comfortable with them, then go ahead. But loose pants are a better option most of the time, especially after you’ve eaten all the snacks you brought on board. Fashionable and functional options include:

  • Activewear
A woman wearing activewear pants
Woman athlete doing stretching exercises on the side railing of a road Woman in fitness wear bending forward stretching her leg on a roadside railing

You didn’t want to be caught in your sweatpants outside the house and the gym back then. But nowadays, there are so much cool activewear out there, and the pants can often be easily combined with your normal tops. Pair it with a cute sneaker, and you’re all set!

If you don’t like wearing activewear that looks like activewear, you can go for travel yoga pants. Some brands offer yoga pants that look like business wear.

  • Genie or harem pants
A woman wearing harem pants
Tourist lady with sunglasses and short hair enjoying the bridge at the laguna of Lesina on a sunny day in summer

These pants are comfy and breathable, but they can look bad when not properly styled. Go for a fashionable one that doesn’t have the crotch between the knees if you want to look nice.

  • Palazzo pants
A flat lay photo of palazzo denim pants
Trendy woman clothes and accessories on white background Wide leg high waisted jeans jacket shoes bag shawl Modern and casual outfit Fashion and shopping concept Flat lay top view

Not everyone can pull off palazzo pants, but if you can, you can go for it. They are as comfortable as activewear and harem pants, especially when they are made from stretchable fabric. Plus, they look a bit classier. It looks great, especially for tall or long-legged women.


A woman wearing leggings on an airport
Low angle view looking up portrait of young woman standing on metro subway airport escalator going down with stairs steps bright light outside

Loose pants are great, but some people love wearing leggings on a long flight. They cover your legs, give warmth, are comfortable to wear, offer great mobility, and take up zero space in your luggage afterward. If you want to wear leggings, just make sure they don’t fit too tightly.

Sneakers or comfortable shoes

A person wearing sneakers on an airport
Cropped shot of passenger leg on luggage waiting for departure at the airport

What you wear on your long flight depends on your personal preference. For some, comfortable shoes mean sneakers, but for others, it’s soft leather flats. It’s important to remember that feet tend to swell during long flights, so make sure you bring socks so you can remove your shoes in-flight and relax your feet.

You will be tired and perhaps a bit sore when you land, so it’s best to avoid high heels or tight-fitting shoes since you’ll need to go to your hotel in them. If you’re bringing your running shoes or any sports shoes for a workout – they’re the best thing to wear – since they are usually the bulkiest shoes you pack. It makes sense to save luggage space if you already wear them for take-off.


For hygiene reasons, socks are a must. It doesn’t really matter if it’s a short or a long flight – you need to have socks to protect your feet from all kinds of germs and bacteria on the airplane floor. At airport security, you will need to remove your shoes, so if you don’t wear socks, you’ll be barefooted in there.

If you want to ensure comfort during long-distance flights, wear compression socks to avoid the risk of developing deep vein thrombosis (DVT). Also known as the economy class syndrome, DVT causes legs to become red, swollen, and heavy due to constrained movement for having to remain seated for long periods of time.

Carry-on backpack

A man wearing a carry-on backpack
Travel by airplane Rear view of young man walking in passenger boarding bridge at airport

Lastly, your carry-on and what you pack inside can help you be comfortable on the flight. A backpack is the best choice, as it’s comfortable to bring and can pack more stuff than the usual purse. On long-haul flights, you need more than your passport, wallet, phone, and other valuable belongings to keep close to you. You may want to bring your toiletries, food, source of entertainment, an extra set of clothing, and other things that can offer comfort. Just make sure that you check the size and weight limitations of the airline you’re boarding with. Also know what things are prohibited to carry on an airplane. If you need help on how to choose the perfect backpack, read here.