Can You Wear Sandals on a Plane?
When it comes to choosing footwear for travel, one common question that arises is whether or not it is acceptable to wear sandals on a plane. While sandals might seem like a comfortable & convenient travel hack, airplanes and airports might not be the healthiest places to show off your bare feet, considering all of the germs, luggage, and crowded areas. But if you’re wondering whether or not you can wear sandals on a plane, the answer is a resounding “it depends.” We’ll take a look at some benefits & drawbacks of doing so, and offer tips for travel footwear.
Why You Shouldn't Wear Sandals on a Plane
As tempting as it may be to slip on a pair of sandals for your flight, there are several reasons why it may not be the best choice. Here’s why:
One of the main concerns with wearing sandals on a plane is the issue of hygiene. But the issue arises long before you ever step onto the plane. It begins when you pass through the security checkpoint. Depending on which airport you’re in, and often the time of day as well, you will likely be asked to remove your shoes to pass through the metal detector and/or full body imaging machine. If you’re wearing shoes, you may have to bend down to untie or slip them off, but at least your feet will be protected from the floor that’s been stepped on by thousands of passengers, crew members, and airport employees.
Now, while you may not have to bend over to slip your sandals on & off, your feet will come into direct contact with the cold, dirty floor. This is of course, unless you’re wearing socks with your sandals, which we’ll talk more about later.
Once you’re through the security checkpoint, it’s time to find your gate and board your flight, barring any delays. Airplanes are shared spaces with hundreds of passengers, and the cleanliness of the cabin floor leaves much to be desired. People walk around in all types of footwear, and there may be dirt, germs, or spills on the floor – you have no idea where their feet have been. Wearing sandals exposes your feet to bacteria, which could potentially ruin your vacation getaway or business trip.
You're at a Greater Risk of Injury in Case of Emergency
In the event of an emergency landing or evacuation, you’ll want to move quickly and efficiently through the cabin. With everyone clamoring over their seats and squeezing into the narrow aisle, sandals again might not be the best choice. People will likely step on your toes and if there’s debris on the floor, your sandals won’t offer much protection from cuts or bruises. In a high-pressure situation, the last thing you want to do is think about every step you take, which is why I recommend wearing close-toe shoes. .
Cold Cabin Temperatures
Airplane cabins are notorious for their chilly temperatures, especially during long-haul, international flights. And though the cabin crew may pass out blankets, your feet will likely still be cold as your body prioritizes blood in your core over your extremities. A pair of socks & shoes will keep your feet warm; a pair of open-toe sandals will not. And with hours to go until you reach your destination, you’ll want to make sure you’re as comfortable as possible.
Lack of Foot Support
Most sandals lack the necessary arch support and cushioning that your feet need, especially during long periods of sitting or standing. Without proper support, you may experience foot fatigue, discomfort, or even pain. This will make your travel experience less enjoyable and may impact your energy and mobility during and after your flight.
Exposure to Spilled Liquids & Foods
Airline meals and beverages are convenient, but they’re nothing to write home about. The only memorable experience (and not in a good way) I’ve ever had with an airline meal was when someone spilled their drink all over the floor in front of them, which included my feet. Thankfully, I was wearing shoes and was able to clean most of it off without much issue.
But what if I’d been wearing sandals? My feet would be wet and sticky until we landed, which would have made for a miserable travel experience.
Benefits of Wearing Sandals on a Plane
While there are several drawbacks to wearing sandals on a plane, there are also certain benefits that may make them a suitable choice for some travelers. In this section, we will explore some advantages of wearing sandals during air travel, specifically why people prefer them as a convenience option.
Ease & Convenience
One of the primary benefits of wearing sandals on a plane is the ease and convenience they offer. Sandals are quick and effortless to slip on and off, making them ideal for navigating through airport security checkpoints. Removing and putting back on closed-toe shoes can be time-consuming and cumbersome, especially when dealing with laces or buckles. Sandals allow for hassle-free travel, helping breeze through security lines and easily take them off during the flight if desired.
Reduced Risk of Foot Odor
Closed-toe shoes can sometimes trap moisture and heat, leading to unpleasant foot odor during long flights. Sandals, on the other hand, provide better breathability and ventilation for your feet. The open design allows air to circulate, reducing the buildup of sweat and minimizing the chances of developing foot odor. If you're someone who tends to have sweaty feet or is prone to foot odor, wearing sandals on a plane can be a practical solution to keep your feet fresh and comfortable throughout the journey.
Ready to Start Your Warm Vacation
If you're traveling to a tropical or warm destination, wearing sandals on the plane can set the mood and make you feel ready for your vacation. It's a way to embrace the holiday spirit and get into a relaxed mindset even before you've arrived at your destination. Sandals are synonymous with leisure, and wearing them can create a sense of anticipation and excitement for the sunny beaches or exotic locales that await you.
Best Practices if You Choose to Wear Sandals on a Plane or in the Airport
Ultimately, the choice of whether or not to wear sandals on a plane is up to you. There are a handful of arguments for both sides, each of which resonates differently with different people. If you choose to wear them, however, there are a few things to keep in mind.
Opt for More Foot Coverage
Look for sandals that provide more coverage, such as those with adjustable straps, closed-toe designs, or supportive back straps. These types of sandals can offer better foot stability and protection, reducing the risk of injury or discomfort during your journey. Avoid sandals with flimsy straps or minimal foot support, as they are not suitable for extended periods of walking or standing.
Wear Sandals with Arch Support
To counteract the lack of foot support often associated with sandals, choose a pair that includes built-in arch support. Arch support helps to distribute your body weight evenly and can alleviate strain on your feet, especially during long flights. Look for sandals with cushioned footbeds or contoured insoles that provide adequate support for your arches. This will help prevent foot fatigue and discomfort, allowing you to enjoy your journey with greater ease.
Pack a Pair of Socks for the Plane
If you plan to wear sandals during your flight, it's a good idea to pack a pair of socks in your carry-on bag. Socks can provide an additional layer of comfort and warmth, especially if the cabin temperatures are cooler than anticipated. They can also offer a hygienic barrier between your feet and the sandals, reducing the risk of direct contact with potentially unclean surfaces. Slip on the socks when you're on the plane or during the airport transit to enhance your comfort and maintain good foot hygiene.
Pack at Least One Pair of Shoes
Even if you decide that sandals are a sufficient footwear choice for the plane, you’ll need another pair of shoes to wear at some point during your trip. Perhaps there’s a hike or two planned on your family vacation, or simply just a day set to explore the city. Sandals won’t be the best choice for that much walking, especially up hills, on uneven terrain, or in inclement weather conditions. Pack at least 1-2 pairs of shoes that you feel comfortable in so that you don’t end up in pain or discomfort for the entire trip.
Clean Your Feet When You Land
Once you've reached your destination, it's recommended to clean your feet thoroughly to remove any accumulated dirt or bacteria. Take a refreshing shower or use wet wipes to cleanse your feet before climbing under the sheets in your hotel bed. This will help prevent any potential infections or discomfort that may arise from prolonged exposure to unclean surfaces during your journey.
By following these best practices, you can comfortably wear sandals on an airplane without compromising your hygiene or foot health. Remember to prioritize foot coverage, choose sandals with arch support, pack a pair of socks, and maintain good foot hygiene to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable travel experience.