United hates pajamas

Old Mar 23, 18, 2:02 am
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United hates pajamas

Just wanted to share a story from my flight from PER-SYD-SFO last night. (PER-SYD was on VA but is relevant... )

The situation actually started in the Sydney airport with Lady #1 at the United Premier Check-in area. As I was coming off of a red-eye flight from Perth and headed straight onto another long haul flight, I was wearing a very comfortable cotton tshirt, cotton undershirt, and loose capri cotton pants. I was walking to the counter when Lady #1 came out and stopped me and said that I would not be allowed to fly as I was wearing pajamas - I would only be allowed on the airplane if I changed my clothes. I said that I didn't have any other clothes with me (VA only allows 7kg of carryon and that was already taken up with my laptop and camera) and she reiterated that I wouldn't be able to fly. She said she could pull my luggage back out of the transfer area for me to get a different outfit. I asked her why, if pajamas are banned, Polaris class passengers are given pajamas. She ignored the question. I asked to speak to a supervisor and she said she was the supervisor. Thankfully, Z, apparently a Supervisor supervisor, came over at that moment, looked at my reservation, and said that there had been a mistake. He walked me back over the Premier check-in and I received my boarding pass. He said that he had put me in a row by myself. Lady #1 then came over and apologized stating that she had thought I was flying stand-by. (I have no idea why she thought that and she didn't ask me if I were.)

I get on the plane and I have a row to myself - yeah! The flight was delayed an hour and then, all of a sudden, I come back from the bathroom and there is a man sharing my row. He said that he had requested to move there since he was too cramped in the seat he had been in before (neither he nor his lady companion were built to fit comfortably in the Economy Plus seats). I was surprised as no one had said anything to me and there were numerous other free seats available, including the exit row seats. I asked if he would consider moving to another seat at least for part of the time so that we would both have the chance to lay down a sleep a bit - and he responded, amongst his coughing, nose blowing, and putting his used tissues into the seat pocket, no, wouldn't we all just like to lay down to sleep. I just went - ok - going to be one of those flights.

After the flight took off, I went to ask the flight attendants about the seat changes. I was told that customers were welcome to move anywhere they wanted to be more comfortable. I said, “So I can move anywhere I want?” “Yes, just not to Polaris.” (Dang! So close!)

Fast forward four hours into the flight and I go back to the Rear Galley to ask for a Diet Coke. There were three attendants on duty, a man, a young woman, and an older flight attendant. I will call her, Lady #2.

“I have a question for you – [tone dripping with condescension] why would a grown person choose to wear pajamas to fly?”

I was so dumbfounded (not to mention exhausted) by this point that I just stared at her.

She went on to say how adults have to wear appropriate clothing and that look at her, she had to wear a uniform to come on the plane, to which I replied, “Yes, but you are getting paid.”

She then talked about how there were plenty of nice lounge suits that a person could buy…then walked off.

I was shocked and embarrassed. I wish that I were the sort of person who was great at withering repartee for snarky comments in the middle of the night - but I'm not. Heck, I'm not good at that when I am well-rested.

I turned to the young female flight attendant, “Has United implemented a clothing policy in the last week that I don’t know about?” She shook her head and walked off.

I asked the male flight attendant, “What is the Lady Flight Attendant’s name?”

He said, “You’ll have to ask her.”

I asked to speak with the Flight Crew Supervisor, “He’s asleep right now – I’ll ask him to speak with you later.” (I don’t think he ever did, as I had to find him on my own.)

A minute later, the Lady #2 returned and I said, “I don’t think that that was an appropriate question.”

“Well, I think it was. “

“What is your name?”

“I’m not going to tell you my name, dear,” and all of the flight attendants turned away and ignored me.

I gave up and just sat down, fuming. I saw the Flight Crew Supervisor later and spoke with him (super friendly - said her comments were inappropriate and that I definitely should file a complaint.)

What I'm thinking though - should I just show up for my next United flight in a fuzzy onesy? Maybe one with the drop butt flap?



(PS - if you are horribly offended by the idea of someone wearing a cotton tshirt and cotton capri pants for economy long-hauls, please feel free to send me upgrades and I promise to dress up nicely! Well, at least until the free pajamas in Business class are handed out.)
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Last edited by seacliffs; Mar 23, 18 at 2:35 am
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Old Mar 23, 18, 2:13 am
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I donít know if it was the pajamas, but this post put me to sleep.
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Old Mar 23, 18, 2:18 am
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The entire drama could've been avoided by not wearing pajamas - jeez - put some clothes on.

I mean seriously, I personally don't get the lack of decorum on flights.
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Old Mar 23, 18, 2:18 am
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Originally Posted by seacliffs View Post
...Thankfully, Z, apparently a Supervisor supervisor, came over at that moment, looked at my reservation, and said that there had been a mistake. He walked me back over the Premier check-in and I received my boarding pass. He said that he had put me in a row by myself. Lady #1 then came over and apologized stating that she had thought I was flying stand-by. (I have no idea why she thought that and she didn't ask me if I were.) ...
Suspect the ground folks may have thought you were NRSA (employee or family) -- they have a dress code.

Originally Posted by seacliffs View Post
... I will call her, Lady #2 .

“I have a question for you – [tone dripping with condescension] why would a grown person choose to wear pajamas to fly?” ...
That is clearly bizarre. Clearly inappropriate.
But to be honest there are many passengers that are not happy with "very informal" attire of some passengers -- but there is no rule.

In those circumstances, it is best to walk away and not engage. No hope of any discussion ending with everyone happy.

Originally Posted by seacliffs View Post
.... I'm not asking for any form of compensation - just an apology.
What would an "apology" from some random Customer Support agent do for you? Someone that had nothing to do with the incident? You will never hear anything from those involved.
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Old Mar 23, 18, 2:20 am
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Nice story.
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Old Mar 23, 18, 2:24 am
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Originally Posted by HNLbasedFlyer View Post
The entire drama could've been avoided by not wearing pajamas - jeez - put some clothes on.

I mean seriously, I personally don't get the lack of decorum on flights.
Genuine question - what are you picturing here? I'm flying 25+ hours in economy in dark cabins. The only thing that wouldn't be a wrinkled mess would be a full polyester leisure suit - which would smell to high heaven after 25+ hours of sitting. What exactly about a tshirt and capri cotton pants is so disturbing? Isn't that pretty much the basic style of day-to-day clothing for over 2 billion people on the planet?

I would also ask, given your various elite statuses, when the last time you flew multiple long-haul cattle cars back-to-back? I understand dressing up in a fancy restaurant - I don't really understand dressing up to sit in the back of a plane where the toilets look / smell like porta-potties and people are snoring all over the place.

Last edited by seacliffs; Mar 23, 18 at 2:31 am
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Old Mar 23, 18, 2:35 am
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Originally Posted by seacliffs View Post
Genuine question - what are you picturing here?
If multiple people perceived you wearing pajamas - then that is what I am picturing - the dress down thing, in my opinion has gotten out of hand......
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Old Mar 23, 18, 2:38 am
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Originally Posted by HNLbasedFlyer View Post
If multiple people perceived you wearing pajamas - then that is what I am picturing - the dress down thing, in my opinion has gotten out of hand......
Another genuine question - why do you care how other people dress? What is actually offensive about someone dressing in comfortable clothing to sit and watch tv while flying across the planet? I'm not being sarcastic - I really don't understand why people are offended by that. Fancy wedding = fancy clothes? I get that. McDs type setting = fancy clothes? I don't get that.

In terms of the two different women - I've flown 25k+ since January wearing a tshirt / capri combo with never a word said. Today two different women said something - which makes me think something showed up in the United employee pipeline about staff / stand-bys. (Or maybe they, like you, are simply disturbed by other peoples' fashion decisions?)
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Last edited by seacliffs; Mar 23, 18 at 2:51 am
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Old Mar 23, 18, 2:46 am
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Originally Posted by HNLbasedFlyer View Post
If multiple people perceived you wearing pajamas - then that is what I am picturing - the dress down thing, in my opinion has gotten out of hand......
Right! Three piece suit.....leather lace up shoes....don't dare to loosen those laces or undo a single button! And get a bloody hair cut!

Seriously? I'll join the chorus asking just HOW does someone "dressing down" impact on you?

And yes... what about those ISSUED PJ's???
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Old Mar 23, 18, 2:59 am
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I’m all for dressing up while flying, but in the middle of the long flight, I’ll be wearing pajamas. There’s a reason airlines provide them, so I’ll wear them.

Though I do feel a little over dressed wearing TG First pajamas while sitting in UA Y
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Old Mar 23, 18, 4:04 am
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Originally Posted by seacliffs View Post
Another genuine question - why do you care how other people dress?
Well, The CoC cares for sure. But it's hard for us to judge without knowing what the pajamas looked like, as there's proper and improper clothing that could be classified under that.

Passengers who are barefoot or not properly clothed; (may be refused or removed)
Interesting that this story happens just a few days shy of the anniversary of the "leggings incident" (Mar 27, 2017). Note that this was because of a non-rev, the agent on the ground may have thought you were one too.
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Old Mar 23, 18, 4:21 am
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Regarding the initial comment about flying standby, this might have been a legitimate point, if for some reason she thought you were flying on a staff ticket of some kind, as those do have a clothing policy attached. Why she thought that is a different point however.

Shocking that some crew behave this way, or maybe it isn't given it's United.
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Old Mar 23, 18, 5:20 am
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First of all, obviously the FA's comments that you overheard was definitely out of line, rude, and inappropriate. And you're probably justified in taking that up with customer service.

Might be a cultural thing to be honest, but I've occasionally gotten the sensation that I can't excessively dress down on planes (moreso in Japan than in the US). Several years back I landed at NRT in flip-flops, sweatpants, and a t-shirt, and even my family said, "what the hell are you wearing?" Obviously, IIRC this was in the middle of winter, so that might have had something to do with it as well.

I mean, walking in sweatpants and a t-shirt in SFO isn't really that out of place, but I certainly look out of place once I land at HND--even moreso once I head into the city. So yes, depending on where, and who you're dealing with, I'm not surprised that people saw your "pajamas" in a negative light.

When I usually dress for flights, I usually wear some khakis, a shirt and a quarter-zip sweater (around this time of year). I occasionally keep a pair of sweatpants in my carry-on in case I get unbearably uncomfortable for some reason.

Personally, I choose to maintain some baseline level of propriety while at the airport, because it's very much a public area, and not everyone's coming off a 12 hour transpacific long-haul, dragging themselves to yet another long flight. So I usually don't dress in clothes that I wouldn't commute/ride the subway in while at the terminal.

Re: the complimentary pajamas in J/F: I guess expectations change once you're in the air. Everyone's in the same boat, and people are more understanding for more casual clothing (although the increased privacy in the premium cabins might also play a role). But I think it's worth to note, at least when I was in F on JL, once I woke up, the expectations from the FAs seemed to be that I change into my original clothes (although they did fold the pajamas for me to take home).
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Old Mar 23, 18, 5:29 am
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I am honestly shocked by some people's replies to this story. Granted, you can judge how other people dress all you want, that is your business. However, can anyone honestly sit here and defend an employee of a company for making a remark like that to a paying customer?

If anyone here seriously thinks that what the FA said to the guy was acceptable, then they clearly have very low ideas of customer service.

United continues to be the bottom of the barrel in the airline industry. They clearly have sever company culture issues that will not be fixed easily.
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Old Mar 23, 18, 5:40 am
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Originally Posted by JMBResona View Post
Personally, I choose to maintain some baseline level of propriety while at the airport, because it's very much a public area, and not everyone's coming off a 12 hour transpacific long-haul, dragging themselves to yet another long flight. So I usually don't dress in clothes that I wouldn't commute/ride the subway in while at the terminal.
To each his own, but I agree with this guideline. I personally wear a short-sleeved polo, long jeans/khakis and shoes of the dress/athletic crossover type, with a sweater handy for when it's too cold. In summer I may wear a Dri-FIT shirt when traveling through TX or the south, as a polo may trap sufficient sweat to light up on the body scanner. Somehow I feel very uncomfortable wearing shorts on planes, I appreciate the extra level of protection against accidental bruises or cuts that clothing may provide, especially with the tight spaces on airplanes nowadays.
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