Qantas dress code: Singlets and flip-flops out of the club

The right to be casual and the veneration of a laid-back approach to life are prized in few cultures as much as they are in Australia.

So when Qantas decided to enforce its "smart casual" dress code in business and club lounges in Australia's main airports on Wednesday, Australians weren't going to go down without a fight.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Singlets are not welcome in the lounges

"Singlets, bare feet, rubber thongs and clothing with offensive images or slogans are, in most cases, likely to be deemed unacceptable," said Qantas.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Rubber thongs are definitely not welcome. The status of leather thongs is unclear in Qantas' new regime

And Twitter was the battleground where both sides of the argument slugged it out. Anthony Dennis, travel editor for Fairfax media, immediately saw Qantas' argument.

Image copyright other

By setting the bar for what counts as "smart casual" - a notch above the Australian standardised norm - the airline is suggesting its business and club lounges are special places. Of course, the patrons of this lounge will feel they have paid for the privilege.

But this isn't going down well with everyone.

Image copyright other

Many media outlets quoted private escort Estelle Lucas who complained about the policy.

Image copyright other

Certainly, domestic flights in Australia can take up to four hours and temperatures in many places can often hover around 30C. Many people like to feel comfortable when they fly, even if it is for business.

Open-toed flip flops, or thongs as they are fondly termed in Australia, can be seen as a perfect solution to the problem of swollen feet on long flights. At most upmarket restaurants women in leather flip flops paired with a singlet top would in no way be deemed inappropriate.

Image copyright other

But for some, attending the lounge implies you are a cut above the average "bogan" - or uncouth undesirable.

Image copyright other

And if you have paid that bit extra for your flight, you may want to be surrounded by those with more sophisticated dress sense who feel it essential that bare armpits are covered up.

This debate never became fevered or strident and perhaps the media went overboard in describing it as a social media outcry. But it certainly cut to the heart of a very Australian sentiment. It also highlighted some very regional variations.

In Darwin, the capital of the Northern Territory, the desert heartland of Australia where sharp suits are little in evidence, the policy is not being applied.

Qantas, meanwhile, has said they are doing this in response to passenger requests. They also said they are not in a position to "flip flop " on changes to their dress policy.

Image copyright Thinkstock

Related Topics