There is NEVER a time you should be barefoot when walking around an airplane. Period.
As an avid flyer and a flight attendant for a Legacy carrier (which means one of the largest US airlines) I cringe every single time I see someone walk into the lavatory with just socks or worse completely barefoot. I get it. Everyone takes off their shoes on long flights and that’s OK with 99% of all other travelers and working crew (unless you have major foot odor problems, and you know who you are) but it is necessary to put them back on for that trip to the restroom or if you just want to stand and stretch your legs. As a sassy stew who also cares about her customers, I try to warn people. If they are under 12 I make them go back and grab their footwear (they don’t know any wiser.) However, when traveling folks like to adopt a “you can’t tell me anything” attitude I just step back, smile and watch them step unknowingly into the mystery liquid on the floor.
Let me share with you from my own experience and from my collegues the top reasons why you should always opt for shoes when walking around an airplane.
- That’s probably not water on the floor. Yes SOMETIMES it is just water on the floor of the lavatory. Maybe the sink was too small and the person before you made a mess. Maybe they couldn’t find the napkins and just shook their hands dry. However those reasons all include assuming the person before you actually washed their hands…yeah..OK…sure. Chances are that is NOT water pooled next to the toilet and not near the sink, especially if there had been any hint of turbulence. Some folks think their aim is good and surprise! It ain’t.
- Shampooing the carpet is not a priority. Chances are you’re boarding the plane 15 minutes after the last flight cleared. You want to get to your destination ASAP and airlines want to get you there faster. Most planes are scheduled to go back and forth between destinations with only a little time between dropping off a set of passengers and loading another set. In that short period of time there is a lot happening, from crew changes, catering, cleaning and maintenance there are some things that are considered priority and some that just aren’t. While cleaning is a priority they are basically looking for the big stuff… trash bins emptied..no crumbs on the floor… any gross messes that the previous group may have left behind. There is no time to clean the carpet or mop the floors and a 160 passenger plane may see over 600 people in a day, 7 days a week. With carpet cleanings scheduled for once every 4-6 months for an aircraft you do the math!
- Someone may have gotten sick. While this isn’t as often as one would think, sometimes people get sick on their way to the lavatories. Sometimes they make it to a toilet and sometimes they don’t. Crews may be busy doing service and may have not noticed it yet, especially if the person was too embarrassed to say anything. You don’t want to be walking to the lav and smell something bad only to realize you’ve already walked through it and it’s currently seeping through you socks and making it’s home between your toes. I know its gross but I’ve seen it happen.
- Turbulence can happen at any time. You could be standing in line waiting patiently for a lavatory to open up and all of a sudden the seatbelt sign comes on and the crew announces upcoming turbulence. If you’re like most travelers you decide to wait it out despite crews warnings and now you struggling to keep you grip on the floor with your slippery socks. As it worsens you make you way to your seat and it isn’t easy, but it would’ve been a lot quicker travel down the aisle should you had a little extra grip from your sneakers.
- Truth time: Your feet stink. No one wants to smell your B.O. ever. I know you think no one notices it. My grandma told me as a little girl who struggled with remembering to use deodorant “if you can smell yourself then other people done already smelled you.” It resonated with me back then and it should resonate with those of you who suffer from foot odor. I say suffer because I know some folks have gland issues or health conditions that they cannot help. My advice? Wear comfy shoes when flying. Wear shoes you won’t want to or have to remove in flight. The things about odors in planes is that they linger. They don’t go away easily due to the lack of fresh air. So basically they just have to recirculate your foot odor enough times through the filter until it doesn’t smell as bad or folks just get adjusted to it. Either way don’t torture your fellow passengers. Keep your shoes on.
Basically if you wouldn’t knowingly walk down a sidewalk in NYC barefoot or just in socks then opt to showoff your footwear when catwalking to the lavatory on your next flight. Your feet will thank you for it!