When Is It Okay to Switch Into PJs on a Flight?

Cathay Pacific First Class Shanghai Tang Pajamas Aesop amenity kitOn a day flight from Europe to the US, my mother and I marveled at the number of people who switched into (other airline) pajamas for the trip.  Since this was a day flight, it’s the type of flight you don’t want to fall asleep on in order to adjust back to East Coast time.

As we discussed it, we decided it made sense.  You don’t want to wrinkle your clothing and if you didn’t wear something particularly comfortable, it can certainly help you relax.

But then I started noticing people changing into their (other airline) pajamas on 4-hour flights.  That seemed a bit excessive to me, especially given the time it takes to get to a cruising altitude, plus the time you would need to change on the way back.

But I also see people walk into 4-hour flights already in their pajamas (often wielding pillows), so perhaps it isn’t that strange.

What do you think?  What is the appropriate flight length to take the time to switch into your Cathay Pacific (or other airline) PJs?

Also, don’t forget–a first class passenger delayed a whole plane over not getting pajamas.


About Jeanne Marie Hoffman

Former bartender, still a geek. One equal part each cookies, liberty, football, music, travel, libations. Stir vigorously. +Jeanne Marie Hoffman Jeanne on Twitter

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  1. I’m curious which airlines pajamas people were wearing! Normally I change into pajamas after dinner service.

    • Jeanne Marie Hoffman

      I spotted Cathay PJs on the Lufthansa flight (business class). I don’t remember what else on the other flights, but they weren’t the airline’s.

  2. A little weird, certainly, but harmless enough. I guess you might argue as to whether boarding a plane in pjs is in good taste.

  3. I get my first flight with PJs in a couple of weeks. Since my flight won’t leave until after 8:30 pm, I’m planning to change as soon as I can to maximize sleep time.

    From reading Lucky’s posts it sounds like he generally changes once cruising altitude is reached.

    One benefit of changing before dinner is that if you spill, you’re not messing up your traveling clothes.

  4. I can’t speak to the pajamas but I have totally brought a big ole fluffy pillow with me on a mileage run to Anchorage and back to DC.

  5. I’ve seen people wear PJs on the street, the beach, and to movie theaters and without getting a second glance. As you’ve said, airlines encourage it by handing them out. There’s far worse things to be worn on a plane than a clean pair of pajamas.

  6. As soon as the seatbelt sign goes off I change, clothes are folded away and an hour or so before scheduled arrival I change back. As a result I feel a lot fresher especially on a 10+ hour flight. Too easy

  7. I don’t think this is anything new in the travel world. One of my favorite books, Riding the Iron Rooster, discusses train travel in (then highly restrictive and very backward 1980s Communist) China. The Chinese people, from country peasants to businessman, would change into their pajamas and slippers immediately after boarding and settle in for a comfortable ride. Now of course this wasn’t a 4 hour trek (!) but personally, I feel that wearing loungewear during travel is far more comfortable and relaxing, making the trip more restful–even on a Transcon flight. Especially if a pax is wearing constrictive, formal business clothing.

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