A Travel Question of the Day

Do we get better treatment if we’re wearing nicer clothes?

This face says everything you need to know about the joys of air travel.

Who else dresses up when they travel?

My definition of “dressed up” is probably looser than many people’s, but I’ve spent the past several years showing up to the airport in a dress and a jacket or blazer.

The (below-the-knee, non-constricting) dress is for comfort; the last thing I want is to be wearing skin-tight jeans for the next five hours.

The jacket or blazer is me trying to pretend that “dressing up” will make the people in charge take me more seriously.

I am pretty sure that any positive treatment I get at airports comes more from me being a youngish, middle-classish white woman than it does from anything I might be wearing, but I “dress up” anyway. Because, as Matt Meltzer reported for Thrillist, sometimes what you’re wearing does make a difference.

I Wore an Expensive Watch While Traveling, and People Treated Me Wayyy Differently

Desperate to get home, people were lining up to talk to a beleaguered gate agent, who summarily told them all the same thing: “You’re not getting out tonight, we’ll put you on a flight tomorrow.” I expected the same when I got to the front of the line.

“Same thing,” I said as I handed him my and my traveling companion’s boarding passes, watch flashing on my wrist. “Any chance you can get us back to Miami tonight?”

He looked down at my boarding passes. Then up at me. Then back at my hand.

“Are you elite status with us?” he asked.

“No,” I responded. He shrugged and took my boarding passes anyway.

Wearing an expensive watch gets Meltzer on a flight that leaves that night, instead of one that leaves the next day. In case you think that’s just a fluke, Meltzer goes on to outline a series of additional unexpected upgrades and perks that he receives, on multiple trips, while wearing the watch—which he’s renting through one of those companies that rents out fancy watches to anyone willing to pay $150 a month.

New Solutions to the Shopping Question

And sure, $150 per month is a lot, but if you get stuck overnight at some airport, you’re probably going to spend nearly as much on food, Boingo Wi-Fi, maybe even a hotel if the airline isn’t planning to spring for that. You’d also lose time—okay, fine, pun intended—that you could have spent working, or resting in preparation of the next day’s workload, or spending with loved ones. Which, as we know from recent Billfold articles, is worth even more than money.

So. Who wants to rent an expensive watch? Also: do any of you dress up, even a little bit, when you travel—and does it make a difference?

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