There are a few plane etiquette questions that have left the internet with a cleft lip in recent times. First there was slammertime, where business class passengers challenged each other to skull flutes of champagne like (pampered) vikings, then there was window shade gate, where an American man and woman (verbally) fought bitterly for control of a shared space, and then there was this mid flight yoga controversy, where one woman’s cheeky act sparked outrage among fellow passengers.
And who could forget the moment a Spirit Airlines passenger lit up on a flight, sparking outroar?
Adding to this quirky corner of aviation news literature is yet another question that Cape Town based model Jess Lee Buchanan last night posed to Instagram.
“Your nighty uncomfortable question,” Buchanan wrote.
“Do you go into airplane toilets in your socks?”
The obvious answer? You wear your thick, complementary socks the airline gives you at the beginning of the flight, then throw them away at the end. Right? Wrong.
Apparently, what the majority of people do, judging by Buchanan’s poll, is put on their shoes.
16% said they went in socks, and 84% of respondents selected “shoes.”
Well tie me up and prod me with Adidas. I might have to eat my hat. I would never have expected this.
The Internet is a strange place. And plane toilets are full of
terrors germs. So maybe it makes sense. But still: what an effort.
Our take? You should never go to the toilet on a plane bare foot, both because it’s gross for you, and rude towards your fellow passengers, who have to see and smell your feet as you walk up and down the aisle.
However, if you don’t find it gross, there’s no reason you shouldn’t wear socks. Socks are the perfect halfway mark – the perfect compromise.
A JetStar survey, answered by over 20,000 Jetstar travellers, found that most are outraged at the idea of being “footloose and fancy-free” at the airport.
The survey found only 6 per cent of Australians and 9 per cent of Japanese think it is OK to leave your shoes off (New Zealanders were more accepting, with 12 per cent thinking it’s fine).
The survey concluded: “It’s almost unanimous – it’s not OK to travel barefoot on a plane or at the airport.”
There is one caveat though. Socks are sweet. Zarife Hardy, director of the Australian School of Etiquette, told Jetstar it’s ok to take your shoes off once you are on the flight, if it’s a long haul one.
“When flying internationally, wait until the plane is well and truly up in the air – and bring some socks or lightweight slippers to wear,” she told Jetstar, adding it’s not the best idea to walk around the plane barefoot, both for aesthetic and hygiene reasons.
“If everyone maintains a pleasant level of respect, attire and personal space, then we all arrive at the end destination happy!”
More good advice comes from The Points Guy, who writes, “If you know that odor is an issue, prep well in advance by using shoe deodorizing powders or even baking soda and dryer sheets inside your shoes to quell the smell.”
“And if you want to go shoeless onboard, consider switching out your socks for a clean pair beforehand in the privacy of an airport bathroom stall.”
There you have it. Your guide to wearing socks to the bathroom on a flight.