United Says No Track Suits In First Class

How casual is too casual for an airplane’s first class section? If you paid for first class, and a bald guy in a Puma running outfit sat down across the aisle from you, would you honestly feel short-changed? United seems to think it’s inappropriate.

MyFox Atlanta DC says that Best Buy vice president Armando Alavarez’s first class upgrade was revoked last week, after the gate agent saw he was wearing a Puma running outfit. He said he frequently checks his suits and wears more comfortable clothes for the flight. You can see by the photo or the video clip below that his Puma running outfit was in excellent shape.

For those who don’t want to watch the video (are you sure? you’ll miss Alvarez talking about his Puma running outfit!), MyFox DC says Alvarez wrote a letter to United to complain about having his upgrade revoked, but he hasn’t heard back from them. The network says it contacted their customer service department three times but never heard back, either. I’m pretty sure you have to write a hit YouTube song to get United’s attention these days, Alvarez; you might want to see if Best Buy can hold a United Hates Puma Running Suits sale or something.

“Man Denied First Class Seat on United” [MyFox Atlanta] (Thanks to Diasdiem!)


Edit Your Comment

  1. jamesdenver says:

    I can see changing into this for sleeping on an overnight flight — but I would never wear this during the day.

    For flying I wear nice jeans, dark shoes and plain shirt, (black/blue) or occasional button down shirt.

    I’m not wearing a suit, but I don’t look like a slob or like I just rolled out of bed, which usually makes a better starting point should I need to deal with customer service staff.

    • qwickone says:

      @jamesdenver: well that’s not really the point, now is it? I could understand if he was smelly or overly revealing, but how is dressing kind of bummy a reason to revoke his first class ticket? if he’s allowed to fly coach with what he’s wearing, why can’t he fly first class?

      • The Porkchop Express says:

        @qwickone: plus the fact that his puma running/jogging thing probably cost more that some of the other first classers’ clothes, and was probably cleaner and in better shape.

    • cluckinchicken says:

      @jamesdenver: I’m sorry, but nobody really cares what you prefer to wear. If I paid for the bloody seat AND the upgrade, I’ll come dressed as I want and you can come dressed how you want.

      Now hygiene? That is a different story. Was he wearing clothes that haven’t been changed in a month with stains all over, and stank like a dirty hippy? I don’t think so. So leave him be.

    • ubermex says:

      @jamesdenver: If they are going to make the seats smaller and smaller, I am going to dress more and more comfortably to compensate.

    • dohtem says:

      @jamesdenver: You completely missed the point.

    • strathmeyer says:

      @jamesdenver: How are jeans (farmer’s/miner’s clothes) better than a comfortable track suit???

    • Nighthawke says:

      @jamesdenver: If you wore thousand dollar Armanis and you flew on the pigsty’s United has, you’d be wearing something more inexpensive and comfortable too.

    • Scoobatz says:

      @jamesdenver: But, who’s to say that wearing jeans is appropriate? Go ahead and wear them the next time you try to tee off on a nice golf course.

      My point being, airlines are public transportation. First class provides more leg room and wider seats — and better food than coach but still unacceptable under different situations. That’s it. You’re not paying to fly under higher standards. When I was in my 20’s, I used to fly first class all the time because I traveled so much for work. Personnally, I wore shorts and a tee shirt because it made the cross country trip so much easier, and I was usually landing somewhere warm, like LA or Phoenix. Sometimes, I sat next to kids in first class. Lots of times, I sat next to people who wore similar outfits like this guy. And, really, who cares? How does what this guy is wearing have any effect on your flight experience?

      • Opoponax says:


        Honey, if you’re living in a world where airlines are “public transit”, you need to come out of the chaufferred car and live amongst the rest of the hoi polloi. You’re apparently already dressing the part.

    • u2acro says:

      @jamesdenver: It’s not something I would wear, either (be it on a plane or anywhere at all), but I don’t think he looks “like a slob” or like he “just rolled out of bed.” It’s a branded track suit that’s as tasteful as track suits can get. It’s neat and clean, and everything goes together. If there’s some hard and fast rule about presentable track suits not being allowed in first class, then United needs to make that point in their rules – and across the board, so all agents are aware.

    • brandymb says:

      @jamesdenver: At least his pants weren’t pulled down showing half his ass.

    • Scatter says:


      I don’t have a problem with United having a dress code for any of their seats though they really do need to make it clear to customers before they arrive at the airport.

  2. Ratty says:

    Can United enforce some other standards for coach? Like, say, no reeking of horse manure, maybe wear something where the crotch isn’t torn open, and pretty please don’t put your feet anywhere near me? Pleeeease?

    • yentaleh says:


      This is UNITED we’re talking about. They want everyone in first class to wear, Armani and Karan and in coach they don’t give a damn about who or what you are. Hell if an United Jet crashed in the ocean would all the first class passengers get life jackets and life rafts while the coach are locked into their section and forced to drown??? Since when did we go back to such draconian times since the Titanic?

  3. logic meme says:

    If I were him I would never give United another dime of my corporations money. Who cares what you look like on your flight? You paid for the ticket and are dressed how you feel is appropriate. As long as your privates aren’t hanging out and you have shoes on, it’s frankly no ones business what you prefer to wear.

  4. lehrdude says:

    …’cause United breaks your balls.

  5. scgirl212 says:

    If he was an upgrade, and not a full fare first class, then the gate agent can make that decision. I fly standby all the time (moms a flight attendant)and if I want to get into first on an upgrade then I have to be wearing not even jeans, but slacks and heels. Going standby actually is worse in terms of attire because you can’t even get on in coach wearing anything less than dress pants.

    This is nothing new on any airline.

    • Stubtify says:


      I’ll second that. I’ve flown Standby like this, and was instructed to dress up a bit just in case. It also makes a difference because if the only available seat is FC they’re not going to sit you there if you’re not dressed appropriately, and then you’re Stuck in Atlanta.

      He paid for a coach fare, and he’s complaining that they let him on but sat him in a Coach seat. Waaaaaaah! My huge mansion and expensive suits should be protected before anyone else. I’m shocked this is even a story. Anyone remember when flying *was* an occasion to dress up for? I’m on United’s side here (that’s almost impossible, so this guy has to be WAY off base).

    • KyleOrton says:

      @scgirl212: It’s not whether or not they CAN, it’s whether or not they should. They pissed off a big deal guy from a big company. That’s a big mistake.

      The airlines are delusional if they think they’re anything more than flying Greyhound buses. The 50s are long gone and flying is no longer a status symbol.

      Half the reason I fly in jeans and a sweatshirt is that I don’t want any of my nice business clothes to get wrecked by their cramped seats full of Pepsi stains and Dorito crumbs.

      • floraposte says:

        @futuresuperbowlMVPJayCutler: It could be a mistake–or it could have saved them from pissing off their other first class passengers, which is probably the rationale. Is it valid? Don’t ask me, I’m in the back making my peanuts last all day.

    • flugennock says:


      Get outta’ here. For real??

      Granted, I fly coach all the time, and usually on American — though occasionally Continental — and I’ve always flown in a decent pair of comfortable jeans (not like Joey Ramone’s), a t-shirt, and either sandals or flip-flops — sandals or flip-flops because I’m a)usually flying to Puerto Vallarta, and b)I want to get through the goddamn’ security theater with a minimum of hassle.

      What friggin’ nerve. They lose and abuse checked baggage, but they want us to dress like we’re going to Grandma’s for Thanksgiving? Way to go, United. Keep fucking that chicken.

      • KyleOrton says:

        @flugennock: A friend who flew for free on her mom’s employee perks did this too. It’s not that everyone has to, they just ask the people somewhat representing the airline and getting it for cheap to do it. If you pay, do what you want.

    • redqueenmeg says:

      @scgirl212: For reals? I never knew any of this. Then again I’ve never been in first class. Then again again, there’s probably a reason for that.

    • richcreamerybutter says:

      @scgirl212: I’ve also flown with a “buddy pass,” and always make sure to dress nicely. I’ve also been told by airline friends that if you’re traveling alone, it never hurts to dress nicely in the event the place is full and they’re bumping random passengers to first or business.

      I can see this holding true to a lesser extent with incentive upgrades. As far as those who pay full fare for this seating up front, I’m not qualified to determine whether a track suit is appropriate. I have no idea if a majority of these paying customers find super casual attire offensive or not.

      Women tend to have more options. I like to layer solid sweater dresses/sweaters and sheer tights, plus a nice flat or small heel. It’s both acceptable and comfortable attire for business class binging and snoozing!

  6. vitaminct says:

    Side note: that story is originally out of DC: [www.myfoxdc.com]

  7. SWBLOOPERS says:

    I wouldn’t know about first class. I’m too busy dealing with the chickens in wicker cages and pet goats back in coach…

  8. iConsumer says:

    Yeah, I think it’s commonplace on all airlines that if you’re getting a free upgrade, they expect you to be dressed professionally. If nothing else, it’s common sense and just a good idea. Look professional, you’re more likely to get an upgrade – so they know you won’t be disrupting anyone else. The title is misleading though… United isn’t going to kick you out if you paid for your first class ticket.

    • Rectilinear Propagation says:

      Look professional, you’re more likely to get an upgrade – so they know you won’t be disrupting anyone else.

      @iConsumer: This is not high school where having the word ‘Hell’ on a t-shirt is considered a disruption. Clothing is not a disruption. A lack of clothing maybe.

    • Sifl says:

      @iConsumer: Seriously? SERIOUSLY!?!

      Not going to disrupt anyone? Just because you dress a child in a suit does not mean they won’t be a hellion. The same can equally apply to an adult. All it takes is 1 drink for some to go from Innocent to Exorcism required.

  9. mgrand says:

    Flying is so uncomfortable and airports so stressful that is someone wants to dress comfortably for a flight, I think it should not be a big deal.

  10. Paladin_11 says:

    I’d be happy if they just found a way to pan perfume and cologne on all their flights.

  11. BklynHotniss says:

    Welcome to what you’re percieved as when you wear comfy clothing on your flights and on the street as well. I don’t-scratch that- CAN’T wear nice attire to fly nowadays b/c I am asked to remove all of it and everything else I am carrying (laptop, cosmetics case) to get frisked. Why would I waste my time with a well put together outfit and risk it getting dirty on the floor, on the x-ray machine, etc… I fly looking like a hippie b/c I can get through the line faster. Not to mention I can’t wear any jewelery or metal accessories. Ugh!

  12. TheMonkeyKing says:

    Funny…I’ve heard of Best Buy employees refusing cash refunds to those who “look shady.”

    • jeffbone says:

      @TheMonkeyKing: I heard the headline this morning and immediately thought:

      “Best Buy exec gets screwed over by an arbitrary customer service rule. Karma’s a bitch, huh?”

  13. Mozoltov, motherfucker says:

    I can see if this was an award ticket or upgraded because of miles. We get discounts for the major airlines, and we have to dress up to fly, if we come in shorts or sandals we are not allowed to fly till we change. Now if the guy paid full fare, then he should be able to dress how he wants.

  14. Crabby Cakes says:

    I fly a lot of 6am and red-eye flights and often dress in “comfy” clothes, (yoga pants and a sweatshirt.) I had no idea that could effect my upgrades, or that so many people would be judging my attire.

    • CFinWV says:

      @Crabby Cakes: And it’s not like the track suit he was wearing was all ratty. I really don’t get the fuss, you want to be comfortable on your flight.

    • ObtuseGoose says:

      @Crabby Cakes: I’m completely shocked by this story. I’ve flown first class on Continental wearing shorts and a t-shirt, two or three times. No one looked at me strangely. The flight attendants were courteous. I don’t really understand United’s position.

  15. ExtraCelestial says:

    If this was an upscale restaurant or lounge I would absolutely understand, but when you dress for a flight you dress for comfort. A large part of the appeal for business and first class is the extra space provided to stretch and relax. Who wants to be all stuffy in a suit and heels when you’re strapped to a chair for 8 hours?

    In the age of $300+ jeans and $100+ undershirts, casual clothing just doesn’t have the stigma it once did.

  16. Slack says:

    “Something’s happening at the top of the house for them…”

    With regards to customer service…

    Really Mr Best Buy. Really?

  17. The_Red_Monkey says:

    I had the pleasure of meeting this dude and the getup fits him pretty well.

  18. scouts honor says:

    The VP of Best Buy is the victim of poor customer service?!

    Sweet, sweet, delicious justice!

    • Foneguy says:

      @scouts honor: No doubt the gate agent had purchased a TV from Best Buy. then tried to have the Geek squad repair it under the extended warranty. You can pretty much figure the rest from here. Gate agent sees VP, aha as you said……sweet, sweet, delicious justice. I didn’t watch the DC Fox report, but I hope the VP was complaining about how bad the United cust. service sucked! Next week, FoxDC investigative asian reporter Trisha Takanowa looks into extended warranties and services at Best Buy. Yes, karma is a funny thing.

  19. Dawnrazor says:

    Very good point about appearances and the resulting customer service treatment.

    I guess I’m old-fashioned, but I try to take into consideration that on an airline flight I’m going to be in the presence of numerous other people in relatively small quarters. As such, I try to take my appearance seriously and groom/dress myself such that others won’t feel uncomfortable. Nothing annoys me more than folks showing up in shorts, flip-flops, and pajamas for long flights! Equally offensive are the folks that think they need to drown themselves in cologne/perfume (especially “Axe” anything-do little hipster/frat boys really think smelling like that will actually get them laid?!?)-sometimes makes me wish the oxygen masks would deploy!

    Right or wrong, how we look often gives the “first impression”. If service staff sees you and based upon your appearance, assumes you are a slobby dolt, you really cannot expect “first-class” service.

    Also (this is probably politically incorrect and will offend), people who spend the extra cash for first-class amenities also expect a certain ambience, which DOES NOT include being among people who look like they just rolled out of bed. Part of what they are spending extra on is to be isolated from all of the casual/infrequent travellers and the associated sights, sounds, and smells; track suits would seem to be incompatible with this, and I don’t fault United for calling him on it. Yeah, this is incredibly snobby and elitist, but that’s part of the “first-class” experience that people pay good money for.

    You certainly could not get away with looking like that at a high-end restaurant, and someone being kicked out of such an establishment would never even be posted on Consumerist.

    • Scuba Steve says:

      @Dawnrazor: “Yeah, this is incredibly snobby and elitist, but that’s part of the “first-class” experience that people pay good money for.”

      I didn’t realize being around people in stuffy uncomfortable suits for 3 hours at a time was advertised as an Airline amenity.

      It sounds more like United Airlines is being a complete ass about this, and someone made a poor judgement call at the ticket booth.

  20. Clobberella says:

    As a lifelong member of the peasantry, I had no idea you had to dress up like a fancy person to fly first class. Is there some kind of stated dress code somewhere? And what is the purpose behind it? A couple people mentioned the word “disruptive” re: the track suit. If that is the case, how exactly is it disruptive? I am not exactly wise in the ways of the upper classes, but I’m pretty sure that even rich people like to be comfortable sometimes and thus don’t spend ALL of their time in tuxedos and evening gowns, but perhaps I am mistaken. Someone, please enlighten me.

  21. aka_mich says:

    Are we sure it wasn’t because he was Best Buy vice president Armando Alavarez? Maybe the gate agent was just perturbed customer.

  22. sprocket79 says:

    Man – I’m flying first class in December (but I paid for first class, not an upgrade). It’s my first time ever flying first class and I totally plan on wearing jeans and a t-shirt with a sweater. If they try and make me sit in coach, I will pitch a fit.

  23. prag says:

    No one should wear these things except in conjunction with exercise. That being said this is ridiculous and he deserves an apology but not from me. I still think he looks like a dork.

  24. quasijo says:

    I’ve flown United first class via upgrades. I dress comfortably for me (business casual) and don’t care what anyone else wears. In fact, I always see someone wearing a track suit, obnoxious t-shirt, or pajamas in First.

    I’m willing to believe the gate agent was on a tiny power-trip in this case. As for everyone who says they have to dress up for upgrades… iShrug.

  25. 3skr1mad0r says:

    I used to fly first class a few times a year in comfy jeans and flip-flops with no problems. Most of those flights were complimentary upgrades as well since I was a frequent flyer member. Nothing was ever said about my attire and I honestly didn’t know there was a policy. Is this written down somewhere when you buy a 1st class ticket?

  26. Scott4 says:

    I’d be annoyed at this if the guy wasn’t an exec at best buy. Also, the fact that exec’s at best buy represent themselves by wearing tracksuits is not surprising.

  27. CompyPaq says:

    If the vice president of a HUGE national company can’t get good treatment on United, then who can?

    • bhr says:

      @CompyPaq: If Best Buy was anything like CompUSA (RIH) a “VP” aint much. Its not a store job, but VPs are one or two steps at most above store managers.

      Pretty much every big boy I’ve worked for is the same way. My team of 10 sales reps with one company was managed by a “Regional VP”.

  28. A Penguin On The Telly says:

    When they start only having hot stewardesses again, I’ll consider dressing up to fly.

  29. Duke_Newcombe-Making children and adults as fat as pigs says:

    Remove United from BestBuy preferred airline travel list…check.

    Stupid, stupid, stupid, United…but why would we expect anything different?

  30. jaubele1 says:

    A higher-up with best Buy encounters poor customer service? Karma is a bitch . . .

  31. Al Swearengen says:

    Do we all need to wear cravats in order to fly in first class?

    What if Hugh Hefner walked onto the plane in his jammies? Would they throw him off?

    If you have the money for first class, you should be able to wear what you want.

  32. digicrom says:

    I used to fly a lot, mainly business class or first, and I always dressed down for the flight, United is absurd. I flew this way because the company would pay for it, and IT WAS MORE COMFORTABLE, and a puma track suite is as appropriate as it gets in comfortable territory without looking bad (not to mention the cost of those things).

    My question is what do they do about populations in cities like Austin were the art of dressing down is at it’s height (something I respect about Austin)?

  33. Donathius says:

    My wife and I flew first class on American for our honeymoon (gifted frequent flier miles) and a track suit would’ve been pretty fancy compared to what most people were wearing. I think the guy across from us was a pro skater – I recognized him from somewhere – and he really dressed the part. I was wearing shorts, flip-flops, and a t-shirt, my wife was wearing pretty much the same thing.

  34. rte148 says:

    At least he wasn’t some lowlife Sagittarius.

  35. haoshufu says:

    Does any airline even publish dress code on their flights? Am I suppose to go change if I know I get upgraded? I have seen people in shorts, sandles and tank tops in business class. As long as they are clean, no indecent exposure and don’t smell, I think it is alright. People like to be comfortable, especially you don’t know how long you will be stuck on the tarmac without being let off.

  36. savdavid says:

    Well, if a guy went into Best Buy without a shirt on would they be told to leave? I can see both sides on this but here you have two egos with money battling it out. I don’t care who wins.

  37. Tim says:

    That’s MyFox DC, not Atlanta.

  38. fosterb says:

    I’ve flown United First and it’s not classy at all.

  39. boricuachick says:

    LMAO!!!! Over the summer I was asked to give up my seat in coach so that a family could sit together. In return, I was upgraded to first class. Yes, the seat was roomy but honestly the only difference I saw was that I got my beverage in a glass and was able to get a refill. Ooooh….aaaaaaah. First class ain’t was it used to be. LOL.

  40. shiftless says:

    Flying is such a crappy experience, even first class, why the hell should anyone give a crap about what they’re wearing? When you’re flying track suits are pretty much the thing to wear since they’re loose and the plane is just overall disgusting and you can spill anything at anytime on yourself.

  41. menty666 says:

    Maybe United has a special ‘airport terminal only’ intranet site that has the real customer support access info.

  42. qwerty001984 says:

    Best Buy vice president Armando Alavarez experiences poor customer service??? Its just like when I call Best Buy Customer Service.

  43. outlulz says:

    I fly stand-by sometimes using a relative who works at Delta’s passes and I’ve been turned down from a first class seat because of sneakers and because of jeans. I don’t see why there should be a dress code, if you pay the extreme about of money to get a first class seat they shouldn’t give a damn about what you wear.

  44. rhobite says:

    I’ve flown a lot. I’ve had airline status and have been upgraded to first. I’ve never heard this supposed rule that you have to dress up if you get upgraded. When was this decided? Can anyone find a travel etiquette article which supports this?

    Many (most?) upgrades are day-of, also – what are you supposed to do when you get the nod, rip through your luggage to dig out that Armani?

    They don’t upgrade you based on what you’re wearing at the gate, either. It’s usually completely automatic, based on your fare class and status.

  45. baristabrawl says:

    A: We hate Best Buy on here. All I have to say is maybe someone at United got the crappy end of the stick and recognized him and made his sorry ass sit in coach.

    B: Why would you want to piss off the CEO of Best Buy?

  46. PegImbecillous says:

    When I fly, I usually see people who are clearly paying for first class because they’re too obese for coach seats. And given the sartorial limitations that generally go with serious obesity, they’re rarely dressed in anything snazzier than track suits or jeans.

    So they’re (a) obliged to fly first class; (b) generally stuck with clothes that emphasize comfort over style; and (c) willing (quite reasonably) to sue the pants off any carrier that refuses to service them because of their physical attributes.

    As a result, first class, often as not, already has a passenger or two who’s rather dressed down. I realize there are other issues here (e.g., the obese passengers are probably not upgrades) but it’s ridiculous to pretend the tone of first/business class can be brought down by unstylish clothes.

  47. ApupnamedShamus says:

    First off, domestic first class is not that big of a deal. Outside of bigger seats, (usually) nicer and more responsive flight attendants, and all you can drink alcohol, there is really not much of a ‘class’ difference. The price difference is also somewhat negligible. Maybe a few hundred dollars more if you know how to work the system.
    I’ve flown it numerous times cross-country in shorts and a t-shirt or polo shirt and flip flops and never had any issues or even a condescending look.
    Now, International First Class, where tickets can be in the thousands to $10k+, ok, I can understand not wanting riff-raff. But if he isn’t dressed like a bum, which in my opinion he isn’t, then who cares.
    With that said, if the rejection had to happen to anyone, it’s kind of fitting that it happened to a senior Best Buy executive.

  48. RomeoCharlie says:

    I am in the military, and I have been upgraded to First Class seats on half-full flights, as a kind of “thank you for your service and welcome back from the desert” gesture from the airlines. While this was totally a gratis (and very, very kind) gesture from the airline, they obviously didn’t have a problem with me being in a battle dress uniform on an airplane in first class. I have NEVER seen a “First Class Dress Code” posted anywhere on a plane or on an airline website. Is this something new? If it is, or even it is something that’s been standard for a while, I legitimately have never heard of it. If I’m going to pay in the thou$ands for a first class seat, then dammit, I’m going to wear the same clothes I would have worn in coach anyway.

    • h3llc4t, breaker of office dress codes says:

      @RomeoCharlie: I think being in a military uniform is a bit different from being in a tracksuit. There’s an implication of social role with a uniform that’s quite a bit more positive than the potential implications from dressing down (“Hey, he’s serving our country” vs. “He’s just lazy and wants the sweet, sweet respite of sweat pants”).

  49. fordpickup says:

    I’m not defending United, but was he going to/coming from the gym? Unless he is an athlete, I don’t think a track suit is appropriate attire. Call me Richard Blackwell (or just a b*tch), but whatever, not he’s dressed for many occasions.

    Also, that much nylon would be horrific in the event of a ditching. He would permanently be wearing that track suit.

  50. ricklesgibson says:

    Hmmm… Best buy executive? F this guy. He should stop worrying about receiving good customer service and focus on his company *giving* good service.

  51. dottiejean28 says:

    suppose though, you are like me. I lost 63.6 pounds so far on (weight loss program starting with W) and my clothes are ALL yoga pants and zip up shirts, hoodies(like the velour baby phat, urban type brand of clothing sets)because of constantly losing pounds and not investing a ton on stuff that will be too big in a month.

  52. gerrycomo says:

    Is there an airline that refuses flip-flops, so I’ve been warned?

    It’s absolutely my favorite shoewear (during the warm months of course, damn North American winters).

  53. VaultComplex says:

    Would love to watch the video, except all I get is a 10 second Arby’s commercial, and then it freezes.

  54. CharlesFarley says:

    Since they are not focusing on service, they may as well start scrutinizing your wardrobe.

  55. katia802 says:

    Anyone besides me feel like United is just trying to get it’s name out there as much as possible? Losing that video guy’s luggage, picking on the CEO of Best Buy, I’ve been seeing them in consumer articles a lot lately. Perhaps they’ve decided that bad publicity is a good idea?

  56. nnj says:

    If United is upgrading him on their dime, then a dress restriction is ok with me. If the passenger paid for the first class seat then of course he should be able to wear what he wants.

    I do love the zoot suit fashion. I always have a laugh when I see these. Aren’t you supposed to wear them in the gym while woking out?

    Didn’t see the flight plan, but I can only imaging that his travel plans involved one of the NY area airports and/or Las Vagas.

  57. missdona says:

    I sat in first (on AA) with a giant hole in the shoulder of my sweater. I didn’t realize that my sweater was falling apart at the seams. I was embarrassed, but no one said a word to me.

  58. harryhoody says:

    Honestly, this is discrimination any way you look at it. I never say this, but this guy should sue.

  59. jparadise says:

    And if some starlet waltzes onboard in one of those velour sweatsuits, will she get kicked off too?

  60. LostTurntable says:

    There’s not dress code for airlines. Anyone trying to rationalize this has their head up their tracksuit.

  61. thehouserules says:

    On the one hand, this rule seems very silly, and I would be annoyed if it happened to me.

    On the other hand, it’s hard for me to feel empathy for a millionaire who got denied a free first class upgrade.

  62. jacques says:

    I was on a United flight out of ORD about a year ago. There was a gentleman making a disturbance at the line to the gate. Come to find out, he was an lower-level “executive” at United, which qualified him for free upgrades to first class. However, he was wearing street clothes, and the gate agent refused his upgrade. He pitched a fit (rather unbecoming of an executive), and started accusing the gate agent of racism. Odd, since both he and the gate agent were African-American.

    Anyhow, 2 supervisors later and a whole lot of swearing, he got his way. And was similarly obnoxious the entire flight.

  63. LTRS says:

    As a flyer that logs over 125K miles a year for 15 years and gets upgraded on almost every single flight, I have to call BS on the claims that some are making here that this is common. I always, always dress in jeans, a tee shirt, and sweater. One, because I want to be comfortable, and two, because layers are the way to go on airplanes (you never know if it’s going to be too hot or too cold!).

    I can’t count how many of my fellow first class passengers have been dressed much worse than this guy either. And never have I heard of a dress code for non-airline employees flying in first class, whether paid or upgraded. Yes, they have these rules for employees who are flying free (non-rev), but if they have this rule for customers it must be the best kept secret in the airline industry.

    More likely, this was just a case of a surely gate agent, drunk on power.

  64. adrew says:

    Ever since security went bonkers after 9/11, I’ve started wearing a t-shirt, jeans, no belt and flip-flips, which is the perfect outfit to breeze right through security with little discombobulation.

    Sorry, but I don’t care about making a good impression on people who I’ll sit next to for a few hours and never see again. I used to love traveling by plane, but now I’ll drive if it’s less than eight hours or so.

  65. GeorgeO says:

    We used our miles last summer to fly First Class to Chicago, and I rolled up in shorts. No one said a word to me. This was on AA though, so they may have different rules.

  66. kd5jos says:

    Solution to the problem:

    Get a 100$ suit from (Sears, Kmart, WalMart, wherever). Pack the track suit in carry on. 5 mins into flight go to the restroom, and change. Go back to your seat in comfort, and ask for a white russian. Now what? Are they going to demand you go back to coach? When stupid rules are made, point out how stupid it really is.

  67. foodfeed says:

    so bogus. i’ve flown first class wearing torn cargo shorts with a day pack, kites and a sleeping bag. this was just a brainless agent being an ass.

  68. clayfree says:

    This is BS, look at any of the sites that carry photos of celebrities and see how they dress when going through airports. I’ve seen them wearing track suits and I’ll bet they got their butts kissed the entire flight.

  69. GreatWhiteNorth says:

    The smartest clothes to wear are clothes that will help you survive if the plane should have an incident… overshoot the runway, be diverted to some backwater airport, or fall from the sky with everyone screaming…

    That means wear confortable running shoes, avoid highly flamable or meltable clothes (denim is ok)… men, women and kids… girls definitely no nylons…

    If something happens you want to be able to get the hell off the plane as fast as possible… you don’t want the heat of fire to melt your clothes to you or have you burst into flames… You want footwear that allows quick sure footed movement… if you have to run over shredded metal or slippery victims you can… etc.

    20 odd years ago I was reading a guide/manual for folks working in Antarctic research stations. This was some of the advice from that manual. It makes great sense and I have followed it ever since.

  70. RChris173 says:

    UPDATE (10:15 p.m. ET on Thursday, Nov. 5): United is out with its side of the story. (Scroll down for the original post.) Airline spokesman Robin Urbanski told me in an e-mail Thursday evening that the airline does not have a policy that would prevent a customer from sitting in first class for dressing too casually. Instead, the gate agent apparently thought the customer in a track suit was an airline employee. If that would have been the case, an employee would have been subject to a dress code.

    “We are working with our sub-contractor that was helping us with this flight to investigate what happened and ensure something like this does not happen again,” Urbanski said in the e-mail. “This was an unfortunate miscommunication with the gate agent who speaks English as a second language and was simultaneously assisting another customer when he believed Mr. Alvarez to be an airline employee in which a dress code policy is required.”

  71. Rocketski22 says:

    Congratulations United Airlines. I completely support your decision. I always wear a suit, or jacket and tie when I fly first class.

  72. notlupus says:

    maybe the gate agent had been slighted by a Best Buy Protection Plan in the past and decided that some sweet justice was in order..

    but seriously I think this is borderline discrimination, just because the man isn’t wearing something the airline deems suitable doesn’t mean they can bump him unless there is some small print somewhere that deems what is acceptable to wear on the plane. I know when I went and came back from Europe on a United flight they bumped a couple random seats(all of which in the schools name) up to business and first class, we decided to let the orchestra teacher and his wife get the first class bump because they did so much on that trip, while the students drew straws. The girlfriend and I got bumped up to business and while we had some odd looks most of the people flying business liked us.