Vintage Flight Attendant Photos
November 13, 2007 9:07 AM   Subscribe

Remember when air travel was viewed as glamorous and exciting? Of course you don't. So check out this collection of vintage flight attendant photos: Part 1, Part 2, Part 3
posted by brain_drain (37 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
Sadly, attempts to return to those glamorous days have ended in failure.
posted by Horace Rumpole at 9:17 AM on November 13, 2007

My god, the colors...

I'm sure I'm not the first to observe this, but the color schemes of the 70's have to be one of the most obvious clues that everybody was doing drugs
posted by recursion at 9:18 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

Pop the friendly boners, or what?

posted by soundofsuburbia at 9:22 AM on November 13, 2007

I'm pretty sure this example is one of those new-fangled "sexy stewardess"
costumes that Victoria's Secret peddles to teenagers.
posted by mkb at 9:28 AM on November 13, 2007

Dear TWA

I never thought this would happen to me, but last week on a flight from Houston a bevy of cute stewardesses.....
posted by DU at 9:33 AM on November 13, 2007

Lookit all the white people!
posted by dismas at 9:35 AM on November 13, 2007

Those hot women sure are hot!
posted by Kwine at 9:37 AM on November 13, 2007

This is one of the best posts ever.

It was definitely the Golden Age of flight in those days.
posted by tadellin at 9:41 AM on November 13, 2007

These are awesome. If it's wrong to be aroused by pictures of women who are now in their sixties, I don't want to be right.

However, if I passed the pilot's cabin while boarding and saw these guys, I'd do a quick about face. Or ask for a shot of whatever they're having.
posted by Terminal Verbosity at 9:41 AM on November 13, 2007

Dr. Freud. Pick up line one.
posted by punkfloyd at 9:50 AM on November 13, 2007

Wow - gussets-a-go-go!
posted by Jody Tresidder at 9:52 AM on November 13, 2007

Oh stewardess, I speak jive.
posted by Saucy Intruder at 9:56 AM on November 13, 2007 [2 favorites]

What kind of plane is that in the third picture? It looks monstrous.
posted by borkingchikapa at 10:07 AM on November 13, 2007

I believe a good proportion of those wild color schemes are from the late great Braniff Airways:

At Girard's recommendation, the old livery was dropped in favor of a wide palette of bright colors. Girard wanted the planes painted from tail to nose in colors like "Chocolate Brown" and "Metallic Purple." He also favored a small "BI" logo and small titles. Braniff engineering, and Braniff's advertising department modified Girards colors, increased the "BI" logo, and added white wings and tails. The new "jelly bean" fleet consisted of such bold colors as beige, ochre, orange, turquoise, baby blue, medium blue, lemon yellow, and lavender. (Lavender was dropped after one month, as lavender and black were considered bad luck in Mexico.) Girard also outfitted the interiors with 57 different variations of Herman Miller fabrics. There were 15 colors used by Braniff for plane exteriors during the 1960s (Harper & George modified Girard's original seven colors in 1968). Many of the color schemes were applied to aircraft interiors, gate lounges, ticket offices, and even the corporate headquarters. Art to complement the color schemes was flown in from Mexico, Latin America, and South America.

Pucci used a series of nautical themes in overhauling the crew's uniforms. For the stewardesses, Pucci used "space age" themes, including plastic bubbles (resembling Captain Video helmets) which the stewardesses could wear between the terminal and the plane to prevent any hairstyles from being disturbed.

posted by googly at 10:13 AM on November 13, 2007


Interesting how non-subtle some of the ads are: Who cares about the convenience of flying?? Our stewardesses are HOT and FUN!! You might have SEX!
posted by LooseFilter at 10:16 AM on November 13, 2007

Whoa, those are some short skirts.

Don't forget that part of the glamour was that passengers would dress up to travel as well.
posted by bassjump at 10:17 AM on November 13, 2007

I don't know what happened between the 1960's and now that turned flight attendant uniforms so dowdy. When I finished training our uniforms were hideous oversized navy and black (!) suits and the "regulation" skirt hem was 3" below the knee...or in others words at the most unflattering length it could possibly be. Of course everyone took their dress to the tailor's and had the waist nipped in and the hem taken up several inches the moment they got off probation.
posted by Jess the Mess at 10:17 AM on November 13, 2007

I was having a conversation on this very topic a few days ago with a friend of mine. We were wondering where the 'hot stewardess' thing was from as neither of us ever remember seeing a single attractive flight attendant in our combined air travel in the last 10-15 years. Some of they guys are cute, but I've not seen a single attractive female flight attendant.

This is mostly flying in Northen Europe with a few trans-Atlantic flights.
posted by slimepuppy at 10:19 AM on November 13, 2007

What's overweight, writes comics and has two thumbs and a giant erection?

This guy.
posted by beaucoupkevin at 10:29 AM on November 13, 2007

Singapore Airlines' stewardesses are still nicely (though tastefully) decked out.
posted by The Card Cheat at 10:51 AM on November 13, 2007

Don't forget that part of the glamour was that passengers would dress up to travel as well.

I can remember flights from O'Hare to Tampa when I was a little kid, and we definitely had nice new clothes to fly in. Everyone dressed up. Taking a plane was A Big Deal.

I still miss Eastern.
posted by jquinby at 10:59 AM on November 13, 2007

A family friend who was briefly a flight attendant told us, and I don't know how true this actually is, that a lot of the older, way more bitter flight attendants of today are these same young, cute, joyful stewardesses of yesteryear. Her theory was that, in the past several decades of continuous airline mergers and bankruptcies, each time an airline would get bought, the less senior flight attendants (and surely pilots and other less visible employees too) would be laid off. After rounds and rounds of this kind of selective breeding, the modern American flight attendant has evolved into quite a different creature.

HOWEVER, there appear to be no laws against employers discriminating on the basis of physical attractiveness in Italy, because every single goddamn Alitalia employee that I have ever seen is young and attractive. Male or female. Pilots, flight attendants, ticket agents, even the dudes with ear protection throwing suitcases onto the plane. I have never before prayed so hard that the plane I was on would be hijacked just so that I could have more time to leer at the people handing out tiny bottles of booze.
posted by cobra_high_tigers at 11:06 AM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

So...! Many...! Gogo boots!
posted by darksasami at 11:53 AM on November 13, 2007

but I've not seen a single attractive female flight attendant.

When I was flying there were plenty of attractive female flight attendants even just in my graduating class (but this was in the U.S). It's true that they're aren't many young flight attendants anymore. Almost all of them were laid off.
posted by Jess the Mess at 12:09 PM on November 13, 2007

Related fun- The Museum of Kitschy Stitches.
posted by cashman at 12:19 PM on November 13, 2007

PSA really did have some nifty flight attendant uniforms, as well as some great whacked out 70s colours.
The concept of having a decent first class lounge is an old one. Look at the upper deck. Notice the 3 windows? They weren't there for the rows of seats. Quite a few 747s had a lounge area upstairs instead of rows of seats. The -200 series added more windows. The -100 series had the 3 windows.

PSA also had 2 Lockheed L-1011s with specially modified lounges. I found a few great photos of it.

Now we have shit like Skybus. "Sit down, shut up, and no, you can't have any peanuts. :|

Sorry for getting kind of off-topic. my point was that flying used to be a lot more fun, and the flight attendants used to have better uniforms.. and jobs. :)
posted by drstein at 12:19 PM on November 13, 2007

I still miss Eastern.

I still have the Eastern jingle stuck in my head from when I was a kid.
posted by maxwelton at 12:36 PM on November 13, 2007

Huh. So "glamour" and "outrageous, dated sexism" are the same thing. Huh.
posted by ethnomethodologist at 1:05 PM on November 13, 2007

posted by miss lynnster at 2:21 PM on November 13, 2007

BTW, images like these are a reminder of a time LONG gone. I remember my parents handing me over to flight attendants as a little kid, and they would take me on the plane, put me in one of the front seats and take care of me the whole flight, and then hand me off to my grandmother after the flight. They were always very sweet to me and I have really good memories of them, actually.

I know they still allow kids to travel alone, but having a flight crew offer to happily babysit your children is just not something that will EVER happen again, I don't think. Parents don't seem to safety pin names and addresses to kids and shove them onto long distance transport the way they used to...
posted by miss lynnster at 2:31 PM on November 13, 2007

I will never understand why things are supposedly better now. My aunt was a stewardess for a while back in the day (late 60s, early 70s) and she loved it, and had a lot of fun.

"Outrageous, dated sexism"? Whatever.
posted by blacklite at 3:13 PM on November 13, 2007

It was definitely the Golden Age of flight in those days.

For those of us that don't do it that often, passenger flying is still golden. How many times does the average human being go up to 30,000 feet and get to look around at 600 mph?

Always get a window seat.
posted by cenoxo at 3:21 PM on November 13, 2007

...and while you're up there, hope for something decent to eat. "Stewardess, I'll have what they're having" (Braniff International Airways, 1950-71).

More air fare from according to their Meal of the Week archives, Singapore Airlines serves up the best.
posted by cenoxo at 4:05 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

"You could be an air hostess in the '60's." - Flight of the Conchords
posted by YoungAmerican at 4:06 PM on November 13, 2007 [1 favorite]

"Outrageous, dated sexism"? Whatever.

The "whatever" part is that

--when you turned 30, you got fired. Screw training and seniority--not young enough to fit our glamourous image? Out you go.

--if you got married, you got fired. Only single women could fit the mile-high fantasy.

This lasted into the 70s when anti-age discrimination laws finally caught up with the airline industry.

So it's a fun post, no question, but I shed no tears for "glamour" that was based on oppression and misogyny. (Sorry for the buzzkill)
posted by nax at 6:22 PM on November 13, 2007

My mother worked for Western Airlines back in the 70's and while it may have been the tail end of the "golden era" of travel, I got my full share of it. When I was a kid, LAX was my playground, and I got to see every side of the airline industry. Being 8 years old and getting to ride on the luggage conveyer up into the cargo hold of a 747. Nothing like it. Every flight the stewardesses would take all the kids on the plane up to meet the pilots, and then we'd all get our pilot wings, and an airline coloring book. Ginger ale with fancy ice cubes! I used to collect all that crap when I was a kid. Playing cards, airline stationary and pen/pencil There's also no doubt that my longstanding fetish for mid-century modern design was honed in the terminals and lounges of the many airports I spent time in as a kid. Airports were amazing then, as opposed to the giant bus stations they are today. SEA/TAC used to have this super modern lounge with an entire wall made of lights that was "interactive". There was a podium of buttons that would change the light patterns. This was a pretty good indicator to my young mind that we were maybe 10 years away from airports becoming space station.

And I do know that the life of the flight attendants wasn't as glamorous as it seemed. My mother was friends with a lot of flight attendants, and they would stay with us on layovers. I remember always being amazed at the transformation from "stewardess" to regular person when thy were out of uniform. My mother's job of figuring out how to route luggage more efficiently was boooring, and I used to always pester her to switch over to flight attendant. I realize now that for her to be a woman on the systems side of things was a big deal back then, and probably an obvious signal that things were about to change.

My most recent flight was on Delta, and one of the flight attendants worked the flight in jeans and a pink tshirt in honor of Bereast Cancer Awareness Month. Which is great in so many ways, but at the same time, a little part of me was sad to see it. It also should be noted that the "coolest" airlines of that era no longer exist. TWA, Pan-Am,Eastern, Western, PSA. I especially miss Pan-Am. They always had the best schwag.

In honor of all the FA's who took care of me as a kid, I'm glad they no longer have to be flying eye-candy. They do an important job, and deserve boatloads of respect and admiration. But outside of that, I wish we could go back to the days when flying was special and classy, and something to look forward to.
posted by billyfleetwood at 10:25 PM on November 13, 2007 [4 favorites]

Pop the friendly boners, or what?
So, they say they want me to make a night of it at four different hotels. But they only show three flight attendants!

What the hell am I supposed to do the other three nights?
posted by Flunkie at 11:18 AM on November 14, 2007

« Older It's like diff for TV!   |   Striking Out Newer »

This thread has been archived and is closed to new comments