Best Shoes for Travel? Ask a Flight Attendant

UNCOMFORTABLE shoes can not only ruin your feet, they can ruin your vacation. Try walking around Versailles with a blister on your heel, or climbing the Spanish Steps with a sandal strap slicing into your pinkie toe.

Cinderella aside, there is no perfect shoe. But if anyone knows which shoes will treat your feet right yet also look sharp enough for a night on the town, it’s a flight attendant.

“We’re on our feet 13 hours a day, sometimes six days a week,” said Grace A. Brown, a North Carolina-based flight attendant who has worked for a regional carrier for more than four years. (Like other flight attendants, Ms. Brown requested that the name of her employer not be mentioned because she was speaking for herself, not the airline.)

Who better to, er, pump for shoe advice? Flight attendants choose their shoes based on a number of factors, including their individual budgets, foot problems and the rules of their airline. For instance, Virgin Atlantic flight attendants are issued liquid-red heels (aptly named Dorothy; a lower heeled version is Dotty). But most flight attendants in the United States are allowed to buy what they like as long as they stay within certain guidelines.

Typically, that results in crew members rotating between two sets of shoes: a snappy-looking pair to wear in the terminal, where appearing polished is a job requirement, and a more sensible, affordable pair that they change into for the service portion of a flight.

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