We know that the job of flight attendant is a much the dream of so many young people, The actual definition of the role is that cabin crew are there for the safety and well being of the passengers – as well as each other.
1920s, 1930s, 1940s
The first cabin crew member was reportedly Heinrich Kubis in 1912, who worked on a German Zeppelin. In the 1920’s Imperial Airways in the UK started to recruit cabin boys who could load luggage and reassure the customers. In 1929, Pan Am in the USA were the first to have ‘stewards’ who served food. However, in the 1930’s Boeing Air Transport and registered nurse Ellen Church devised a scheme where nurses were hired for 3 months at a time to travel on board and look after the passengers. During World War 2, many of the nurses were enlisted into the armed forces, therefore the nursing requirement for ‘flight attendants’ changed.
1950s and 1960s
Through the 50’s and 60’s, being a flight attendant was seen as a very elite profession but conditions were very strict – unmarried females only were accepted and overall appearance was very important. If you wanted to get married, you would have to give up your job. The uniforms were form fitting and often with hats, high heels and white gloves, so a certain glamorous reputation was always perceived.
1970s and beyond
Things started to change again in the 1970’s with the start of unions and equal rights between men and women. Ironically more man joined the profession during these times and it is seen less as just a female role.
Nowadays, although appearance is still an important factor as flight attendant are the face of the airline, rules are less restrictive regards age and height/ weight restrictions with weight being in proportion to height, being the general model. Tattoos that are visible are mostly unacceptable as airlines still want to keep a very prestigious image.
Grooming standards and personal presentation are still very important and expected to remain at all times. Uniforms are designed not only to be durable and stylish (often top designers are hired) but to inspire confidence for the passengers, a long way from the original nurses uniforms of the 1930s!
Since 9/11 and tougher safety regulations, it is a more difficult job than it used to be and our role has become more challenging but the skills you learn you will appreciate for life… Unfortunately, the recent recession has called for many airlines to close down and contracts are often short term but the industry is struggling to find its feet again. Competition for every cabin crew job is fierce and it is still one of the most difficult jobs to get!