Airline pilots: How strict are uniform requirements (United pilot boards, flips out)

This United pilot boarded her very own flight/aircraft in civilian clothes, took the mike and told people what was on her mind.

Not sure how she did that, or how ground personnel reacted as she flashed credentials and was allowed to board the airplane. I hope/assume they thought it was bizarre…Maybe they thought she had her uniform on board or something. But that’s bizarre too.

I’m taking as a given you’re not allowed to fly a plane in your jammies. But how strict are the rules, from infractions to you’re fired?

[Kind of side thought, but pertinent:] I don’t drive a car, but aren’t you given a ticket if you’re driving barefoot? So even private pilots can’t fly barefoot legally, right?

Sounds to me like she was experiencing some sort of psychotic break or sudden onset mental illness? Maybe a medication reaction?

If this was entirely out of character for her, to all the people who encounter her daily, I can completely understand how she easily got through and no one raised an eyebrow.

It’s not actually illegal in any US state (don’t know about the rest of the world) to drive barefoot. It’s also not against any FAA regulation to fly without shoes, although private companies probably have uniform rules for their pilots requiring them.

The airline company can set dress codes for their employees … if infractions are rare then maybe no one knew what to do … their co-worker comes waltzing through in a bunny suit and there will be a lot of “not my job” going on …

Driving barefoot is still a bad idea … think puncture vine on the brake pedal … ouch, and then you crash full speed …

Puncture vine on the brake pedal? Well, if we’re imagining totally implausible conditions, what if you get a puncture vine jammed in your shoe? Wouldn’t it be better to be able to get it out of the way quickly?

I once had a driver’s ed instructor tell us that driving barefoot was actually safer than wearing shoes, since you have a better feel for the condition of the brakes as you apply them. Not sure I buy that, but I’m also not sure that driving barefoot is particularly unsafe.

  1. Yes, aircrew have a bit less airport security theater to deal with than the general flying public, but it’s still more involved than merely “flashing credentials”.

  2. LSLGuy can probably give the best answer re: uniform rules, at least for his airline.

  3. There is nothing in the FARs that addresses clothing to be worn by private pilots who are exercising their pilot privileges. Side note: there’s also nothing in the FARs that addresses clothing to be worn by A&P mechanics who are exercising their mechanic privileges… contrary to more than a couple people who tried to tell me a previous employer’s policy against steel-toe safety shoes was a FAR violation that the Feds could bust us for.

:confused: “puncture vine”?

It’s a plant that would hurt to step on barefoot.

Huh. That close-up in the tire is something. There’s some anti-personnel (vehicle?) doo-hicky from Roman times–“cal”-something, I think–that looks and operates just like that.


Puncture vines are nature’s caltrops. The bane of bicyclists in California. Although I’m pretty sure I’ve never found one on a brake pedal.

Caltrops: Caltrop - Wikipedia

Driving barefoot was against the law in New Jersey in the 1950s, at least, my mom once learned to her chagrin.

Well, if he’s dressed like this, I’m getting off the plane:

Well, since we’re going off-topic, I’m going along. I have driven barefoot–briefly, like moving a car out of the driveway–and I don’t like it. Perhaps I’d get used to it, but with shoes, even sneakers, you can kind of slide your foot around the pedals to find the most comfortable position. Bare feet are too “grippy.”

It would be very bizarre for a pilot in our company to get on the aircraft in “civvies”. Our uniform consists of the standard pilot attire, black shoes/boots, suit pants, white shirt with epaulettes, tie, and suit jacket with stripes on the end of the sleeves. No hat for some reason, someone in management must dislike pilot hats. We don’t have any change rooms in our crew room so 100% of the time people will rock up to work in uniform. Our company rules say we must wear the tie all the time unless on the flight-deck or if the temperature is over 35ºC (95ºF).

The most people try to get away with is not wearing the tie. If they aren’t going to be walking through the terminal or otherwise be in the public eye some of them will take the tie off. That said, even those of us who only fly freighters will wear the tie most of the time.

As for getting through security, no one on the ground knows what you are there for or if your clothing is appropriate to your task. If you’re not dressed as a pilot then people will think you are not a pilot, not that you are a pilot but are behaving strangely. Of course once you get on board and start doing the pilot stuff, it will be clear to her colleagues that something is up.

If I had a crew member turn up to work out of uniform and they appeared to intend to fly like that, I’d suggest they call in sick and go home. If they refused, then I would call management.

It just takes some getting used to. Anyone who wears sandals or flip-flops in the summer will probably be familiar with kicking them off before driving barefoot. Driving around with loose hunks of foam that are barely attached to your feet is more dangerous then whatever people may think is the problem with barefoot driving. It does feel weird if you aren’t used to it, though.

Racist? Joy-riding deterence? Or some historical safety rule? “No shirt no shooes, no driving.”

I had a friend who flew for United who told me the airline had “hat Nazis” who went around making sure the uniforms of other pilots was in line, and they had their hats.

No wonder she’s getting a divorce, if she’s acting like this. :smack:

Some videos of her weird talk taken down. This one still up for now.

Any pilot where he doesn’t have his hat? Iz not a good pilot.

As a person that hates dress codes, this is a good idea. The pilot has complete control over his ship (AFAIK) and has the last word. You wouldn’t want someone coming back and assume authority over a passenger while wearing cut offs.