History of the Flight Attendant


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History Of The Flight Attendant

The history of the flight attendant began as soon as passenger air travel began in the early 1920's. The flight attendant was first called couriers and they were the sons of businessmen who had financed the airlines.

Couriers worked up to the crash of the stock market in the mid 1920's. With the couriers no longer employed, a cost reduction in order to reduce cost, the responsibility of seeing to the needs of passengers rested with the copilot.

The copilot was required to assist the pilot in command as well serve food and drinks. With the improvement in passenger air travel the airlines began to reassess the responsibilities of seeing to passenger needs. In the early 1930's Western Air was the first to hire stewards (male helpers).


These stewards were responsible for seeing to the passenger needs. Such as helping passengers board the aircraft, assisting with the baggage, serving refreshments and assuring that passengers put their cigars and cigarettes out.

By the late 1930's, United Airlines, being the first, had hired stewardess, female helpers. These stewardess were registered nurses and the idea was that the passengers would feel much safer in the hands of the stewardess. Their responsibilities included attending to those who became air sick. Back in those days, the airplanes mostly DC-3, were very noisy and not as comfortable.

Stewardess also handed out snacks to the passengers. Stewardess at times were treated poorly by the male passengers groping, pinching and padding their butts. They were expected to work long hours making about $1 an hour and on average worked about 100 hours a month. Upon World War II the nurses left the airlines and joined the military. The airlines hired young women who were not nurses.

The airlines as part of their hiring practices required the women to take an oath in which they would not marry nor have children. If an attendant was to get married and or have a child the airlines would terminate their employment with the airline. Although, by the mid 40's the airlines experienced a high turn over in stewardess to marriage. By the 1960's, the flight stewardess were dressed in miniskirts and hot pants.

This was a very turbulent time for the country and the airlines. Women were fighting for there rights, Blacks were fighting discrimination and males were fighting to gain positions in the airlines that women had dominated for years. As a result of the Civil Rights Act and the Equal Rights Act, Blacks were able to file anti discrimination suits and males began breaking into the industry providing passenger care on the airlines. By now the name of the stewardess had changed to reflect male attendants, they are now called flight attendants.  (see United Airlines Celebrates 80 Years Of The Flight Attendant Profession)

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