Flight Attendant Shoes: The Sneakers, Clogs, Boots, and Sandals, Flight Attendants Swear By

From airplane aisles and airport terminals to hotel lobbies and downtown sidewalks, flight attendants spend a lot of time on their feet. During my last few months as a flight attendant, I wore a pedometer and logged over 10,000 steps while I worked a single Los Angeles to New York flight. It’s almost unbelievable to imagine all of those steps taking place, back and forth, on one, narrow aisle. As a result, we are always on the lookout for durable, supportive shoes that will keep us going after all those steps—and look good on a layover. So as we all begin to set out on the trips we’ve put off for the past two years, I asked a group of current crew members to strut down a different kind of runway and tell me what they’re packing and wearing to work, exercise, and explore. The result? Foolproof recommendations to consult the next time you’re shopping for a comfortable pair of walking shoes.

For the layover

Adidas Daily 3.0 shoes

A personal favorite of mine is Adidas’ Daily shoe. Available in many different colors, the shoe is designed for walking comfortably with breathable textiles and a lightweight feel. I like a laced shoe to prevent any slipping while walking long distances (it helps to prevent bruising on your toes and ankle) and, paired with the rubber outsole, it’s great for pavement and grassy surfaces, and withstands a little rain, too.

Roxy Bayshore slip-on sneakers

Arch support was a theme many flight attendants I spoke with echoed, and another brand at the top of their list is Roxy. From sneakers to sandals, Roxy makes lightweight, durable footwear with memory foam padded insoles and arch support. They’re also versatile enough to pair with a few different outfits to cut down on overpacking.

Olukai Kīpe‘a beach sandals

When it comes to packing, space is a problem for everyone, even flight attendants. “On layovers, I pack the lightest and most compact shoe I can find, but it still has to be comfortable. Especially if I am going to New York or somewhere I’m planning on walking a lot. Many times it’s just flip-flops. But it’s a very specific kind of flip-flop: Olukai,” Kelly, a flight attendant for Alaska Airlines, told me. In addition to being easy to pack, she said she favors this sandal because of its arch support.

For the gym

Brooks Hyperion Tempo running shoe

Quite a few male flight attendants told me about Brooks, which focuses exclusively on making running shoes (in men’s and women’s sizes) “My feet never get warm and the shoes are a perfect fit,” Juan, a flight attendant for Avianca, says. “You’re never worried that they’ll become loose and interrupt your workout.”

Skechers Max Cushioning Elite sneaker

Skechers made two appearances on this list, this time as a workout shoe for women. Made for both running and walking, this shoe is designed with enhanced cushioning and cooling properties to ensure a comfortable workout, and some of it is made with recycled materials. Danielle from American Airlines told me these are her go-to workout shoes because “I focus a lot on cardio, running, walking, and jumping; these shoes make you feel as though you’re walking on air.”

On the plane

Dansko Fawna Mary Jane shoes

Female flight attendants often change out of their “terminal shoes” (usually high heels) for in-flight flats once the cabin door closes—they’re easier to walk in and are more comfortable for the duration of the flight. But then there are Danskos: the shoes you don’t have to swap. An Alaska Airlines flight attendant named Amy told me, “I wear Dansko Mary Janes… I don’t change to in-flight shoes because I just want to be comfortable all the time.” So comfortable, there’s no need to pack two pairs of shoes, Dansko was made popular as the clog of choice for nurses and chefs before flight attendants caught on and adopted them as their own. The company also offers shoes for men.

Rockport SL2 slip-ons

A favorite among male crew members (and pilots, too) is the Rockport SL2 slip-on. The shoes are extremely lightweight, yet comfortable enough to wear throughout the day. Mike, an Allegiant flight attendant, said, “I have literally worn these for 16+ hours straight and never once felt like I needed to take them off or that I needed to reconsider what I wear to work.” Rockport says the shoe is built to be worn all day thanks to “flex grooves” in the sole which help to reduce foot fatigue.

On and off the plane

LifeStride Oakley tall boot

During the winter months, many airlines allow female flight attendants to wear boots, and many can’t wait for boot season. Since the winter months can also bring a lot of rain and snow, the standout shoe from flight attendants I spoke to was a pair of LifeStide Oakley tall boots—a favorite not just for comfort but also because they’re water-resistant and work well in the terminal, on the plane, and for layovers while in search of local cuisine.

Skechers Cottonwood Goddard SR work shoe

My personal shoe of choice while working as cabin crew was a reliable pair of Skechers dress shoes. These leather shoes with a slip-resistant sole provided the comfort needed to survive a flight from Los Angeles to New York thanks to a memory foam, cushioned insole. There’s also no metal in the heel, meaning those with TSA Pre-Check can breeze through security checkpoints without worrying about setting off metal detectors. The shoe is also versatile enough that it can be worn with casual clothes on a layover. Stephen, a flight attendant at Frontier Airlines, told me this: “I, for the life of me, don’t know how flight attendants fit a pair of extra shoes in their Rollaboards. I wear my Skechers work shoes with and for everything on and off the plane.”

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