Never Take Your Shoes Off On An Airplane. Here's Why

Despite the complimentary drinks and salty snacks, air travel is not always comfortable. Nobody likes being stuck in the middle seat and then suddenly having to pee. To make plane travel a bit more relaxing, it may be tempting to slip off those shoes and kick up your feet — at least as much as your legroom will allow. For others, the desire to take off one's shoes may be due to physical discomfort experienced while flying. Let's explore the reason for this discomfort and then decide if removing our shoes is the best option for relieving that pain.

According to Foot & Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic, swelling in the legs and feet can sometimes occur while flying due to the combination of low cabin pressure and physical inactivity while sitting for long periods of time. Together, this hinders our circulation and causes blood to gather in the legs, leading to swelling and discomfort. In order to relieve the pressure on your swollen feet, removing your shoes seems like a logical solution, but doing so poses a different problem altogether.

Your shoeless feet are making direct contact with germs

According to Best Life, going shoeless on an airplane almost guarantees direct contact with germs. Carpets are a great place for germs to reside, and despite an airline's best cleaning practices, it's impossible to get carpets 100% germ-free. Plane carpets can also hold residue from barefoot bathroom trips. Former flight attendant Steffanie Rivers says these germs are likely directly from human fluid, as a bumpy plane ride may splash waste particles onto the bathroom floor.

Condé Nast Traveler editor Caitlin Moscatello feels the benefits of going shoeless are not worth the risks. "Walking around the plane? No way," Moscatello told Traveler. "Between the nasty carpet and the bathroom floor, you're soaking up more germs than you need to, not to mention grossing everyone out who has to walk in your path."

If you've been sliding off your shoes due to physical discomfort, Foot & Ankle Specialists of the Mid-Atlantic provides suggestions to prevent swelling and any related complications, such as stretching out in an aisle seat, keeping your legs slightly elevated by placing your feet on top of your personal item under the seat in front of you, taking an occasional lap up and down the aisle, and drinking adequate amounts of water. In some cases, your doctor may advise the use of compression socks. Try these methods and you may find you're still able to relax while keeping your shoes safely on during a flight.