strat investigates

Why Do Almost 400 Flight Attendants Own This $24 Jumpsuit?

From left, flight attendants Jennifer Beckwith, Donna Drago, and Amber Blansit in the jumpsuit. Photo: Courtesy Beckwith; Drago, Blansit

Ever since we wrote about a certain green coat from Amazon spotted on a growing number of Upper East Siders, it seems everyone has clamored to declare something the New Amazon Coat. So when we received a tip about a jumpsuit from Amazon that had allegedly become a favorite of hundreds of flight attendants, we were intrigued, if not a bit dubious. Could it actually, authentically, be a thing?

“The traveling jumpsuit,” as many of the flight attendants we spoke to call it, first surfaced in a private Facebook group, where flight attendants come together to share tips, like the best places to shop and eat on layovers, favorite airport-specific duty-free products, and their latest purchases. “It’s a safe space,” says flight attendant Nikki Helms. “We talk about creams you can put on your zits to vibrators.” While there’s disagreement about the exact date when the first jumpsuit post appeared (some say it was as early as this past March or April, while others report June or July), the group’s moderator Jennifer Nors estimates early August as the time when jumpsuit fever truly began, after one flight attendant listed it in a post about her latest Amazon purchases. “Then, out of nowhere, someone else posted they got the same one, and from there our entire group blew up,” Nors says. “The more people posted pictures, the more people requested the link to buy.”

Flight attendants Heather Wallace-Wood; mother and daughter Terri Winslow and Kaci Kottemann; and Rachel Abukhdeir in the jumpsuit. Photo: Courtesy Wallace-Wood; Winslow and Kottemann; Abukhdeir

That August post was followed by hundreds of similar ones. Flight attendants posted pictures of themselves wearing the jumpsuit in airports, at the beach, to perform stand-up, at sports games, and even posing with a kangaroo. “Every single person started getting it, and now they call it the unofficial flight-attendant uniform,” says flight attendant Amelia Parker. By September, the jumpsuit was back-ordered — one flight attendant we spoke to said she had to wait a month for hers to arrive. According to Nors, the group’s jumpsuit fever became “so bad that all the pictures were flooding the group, so we had to make a specific thread.” That specific thread went on to spawn its own private, jumpsuit-focused Facebook group, “The Sisterhood of the Traveling Jumpsuit,” which currently has 371 members. And, as of this past week, 332 members of the original Facebook group reported that they’ve purchased the jumpsuit, while 52 said they “loved it so much I bought two,” and 7 admitted that they “actually bought four!”

According to the women we spoke with, the “unofficial flight-attendant uniform” makes an appealing antidote to official flight-attendant uniforms, which at best can be complicated and require many components, and at worst have been reported to cause health concerns among flight attendants. “Every single body looks amazing in it, and it never wrinkles,” says 27-year-old Parker, who told us that she has flight-attendant friends in their 30s, 60s, and 80s who all wear the jumpsuit. Helms, the flight attendant who wore the jumpsuit while performing stand-up comedy, agrees. “You can dress it up, you can be more casual, you can wear it with tennis shoes or heels and jewelry and makeup,” she says. Flight attendant Heather Wallace-Wood adds, “The funny sight to see will be everyone meeting for dinner and showing up in the jumpsuit, all accessorized differently.”

Flight attendant Nikki Helms in the jumpsuit. Photo: Courtesy of Helms

Importantly, the jumpsuit is also easy to pack. “It’s one of those things you can just throw in your bag,” says Parker. “When you’re constantly changing what’s in your suitcase, it’s nice to have one piece you can just throw on that’s consistent.” Made from cotton with the slightest bit of spandex, the jumpsuit “feels like you’re wearing pajamas,” according to Parker. “It’s perfect for travel on its own.” And when people who fly for a living say that something is travel-friendly — and comfortable, easy to wear, and generally no fuss — we’re inclined to take their word for it.

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Why Do Almost 400 Flight Attendants Own This $24 Jumpsuit?