Thursday, June 21, 2018

Vintage Air Hostess Fashion from the 1930s

Flight attendants or air hostesses have worn a staggering and extravagant array of outfits over the past 80 years in the air.

Right from the advent of commercial aviation, flight attendant uniforms were often a part of the package. They have always been mandatory right from the get-go.  In the earlier days, the air hostess uniforms were almost nurse-like and the designs were meant to inspire confidence in the minds of the flying public were still skeptical about the safety of aviation.

Over the years, the flight attendant uniform has evolved considerably. The uniforms encompass both aviation history as well as the evolution of vintage fashion. Because female flight attendants have always dominated the public imagination, the biggest and most notable changes have been in their flight attendant uniforms.

As airlines strove to outdo one another in their marketing, the uniforms have also changed considerably. There were uniforms that were quite memorable but not very practical. One airline had its flight attendants wearing bubble space helmets with bright candy-colored coats. The hats ended up taking lots of space in the overhead bins!

Some of the flight attendant uniforms have been sharp and ageless, standing the test of time over the years.


The first ever company to hire female flight attendants was Boeing Air Transport. They had a dark green woolen uniform that had a heavy cape and a cap. The attendants also wore the block-heel Oxford brogues to ensure stability. Since the planes also had to land frequently to refuel, the capes helped the flight attendants stay warm during pit stops.

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Angela Waller: Before there were trolly dollies

Angela Waller flew in the 50s and 60s during the golden age of aviation when the job of the stewardesses was considered glamorous and fun.  Every little girl wanted to pursue a career in the skies. Angela flew to many countries including Kenya, Sudan, Ghana, France and Spain amongst others. In this entertaining book she offers us a glimpse into flying during the golden age and her life in the skies. A good book for those who are fascinated with the lives of flight attendants or stewardesses during the golden age of aviation. Visit Angela's website at  to learn more about her life and book. Angela currently lives in West Sussex in the UK.

You can purchase Before there were trolly dollies on Amazon

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

The First African American Flight Attendant

It looks very ridiculous but in the the first six decades of the 20th Century, the opportunities of becoming a flight attendant were shut down for the US population of African descent. This woman, Ruth Carol Taylor, broke the glass ceiling and became the first African American flight attendant in 1958, when she was hired by Mohawk Airlines.

 This is what  she said of her historic achievement: “…It irked me that people were not allowing people of color to apply… Anything like that sets my teeth to grinding,”

Taylor was dismissed after 6 months after she got married, violating another discriminatory barrier of that era, but ever the fighter, she went on to join the civil rights movement. Visit here to learn more about African American Flight Attendants.

Interflug Flight Attendants

Interflug was the airline of the GDR, or the German Democratic Republic.Today, we just call it "The Former East Germany" The airline was founded in 1958 and ceased operations in the 199o following the German Reunification. In its early days, the airline was nicknamed the East German Lufthansa as it shared a name with the West German Lufthansa that we are more familiar with. In fact it was called Deutsche Lufthansa but after some litigation by the West German, authorities, the airline lost the rights to the name Lufthansa. From 1962, it was simply known as Interflug, translated as International Flight.
Interflug then called Deutsche Lufthansa

El Al Israeli Airlines Flight Attendants

El Al is a the small Israeli state carrier and flies to a few destinations around the world so you are unlikely to see its crews in many places. The Hebrew name "El Al" means "to the skies" and is inspired by  averse from the book of Hosea in the Old Testament. The cities that are served by El Al include Europe Zurich, Frankfurt, Brussels, Vienna, Warsaw, St.Petersburg, Kiev, Athens, Budapest, Geneva, Marseille, Bucharest, Bulgaria, Australia, Sydney, Far East, Bangkok, Hong Kong, Beijing, Mumbai, Johannesburg, Sao Paulo, New York, Los Angeles and to Canada too. El l flies to a total of 23 destinations in 22 countries. Below are a few snapshots of El Al Israel Airlines flight Attendants. The uniform hasn't changed much since the early 1990s.

An El Al Flight Attendant in the 50s

An El Al Flight Attendant Dining in Amsterdam in the 50s

El Al Flight Attendant Uniform in the 70s

El Flight Attendants in 1995

El Al Flight Attendant Today

El Flight Attendant Serving On Board

El El Flight Attendant "riding the cart"

El Flight Attendant On board

El Al Flight Attendant

El Flight Attendant On Board

El Al Flight Attendant Serving On board

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

A Flight Attendant's Tales of Sex, Rage, and Queasiness at 30,000 Feet

First, this book is based on a true story. The stories are quite odd and even bizarre. You won’t imagine that they even happen onboard at 30,000 feet but someone who has worked for 15 years “riding a tin” has certainly seen everything. Plane Insanity: A Flight Attendant's Tales of Sex, Rage, and Queasiness at 30,000 Feet gives you just that. What you see is what you get. If you love the blog Flights from Hell, then this is a insider's tale of several stories of Flights from Hell by a male a Flight Attendant who has worked for major US airlines and seen it all. ALL. And what is it that he has seen?

  • Robbery at 30,000 feet where $500,000 is stolen onboard a flight. Not when plane is parked, but at 30,000 fleet!
  •  An inebriated man defecating on top of the liquor cart to the horror of all passengers onboard.
  • An in-flight brawl.
  • A cute beautiful woman giving a “smug faced” man that she had just met for a few minutes a fellatio.
  • The Mile High Club….sex on board flights
  • Putting a woman on the wrong flight and living with consequences
  • A couple vomiting on each other until they look as if they had just taken some oatmeal.
Plus much more bizarre tales at 30,000 feet detailing the “lowlights” of his career. The tone is funny and it is certainly a book that you will enjoy reading. You might also be wondering if our funny story teller  ever joined the “Mile High Club”; Buy the Plane Insanity: A Flight Attendant's Tales of Sex, Rage, and Queasiness at 30,000 Feet from Amazon to Learn More

Diary of a Dysfunctional Flight Attendant: The Queen of Sky Blog

Ellen Simonetti caused a stir in 2004 with her blog “Queen of the Sky” which candidly detailed her life, work and frustrations at Delta Airlines where she worked as a Flight Attendant. With such candid posts as “Where Is The Glamour?”, Elena wrote about the tribulations of work and even went as far as posting photos of herself wearing the Delta Air Lines flight attendant uniform on her widely popular blog, an action that got her fired and caused a furore in the industry. It ignited a debate on the limits of free speech.
Ellen Simonetti: Diary of a Dysfunctional Flight Attendant
This Diary of a Dysfunctional Flight Attendant: The Queen of Sky Blog is written in a very unique format, in the blog format. Or to use a modern coinage, it’s a blook.  In a way, you can call it a Web2.0 book and it details the first eleven chapters of Ellen Simonetti’s blog although some facts have been slightly altered but it makes for a very interested reading, particularly for those young women aspiring to be flight attendants.

Ellen Simonetti began the blog initially as a “form of therapy” after, sadly, having lost her mother to Cancer.  The blog became her confidante, where she discussed a lot to do with her life and daily work as a Flight Attendant at Delta Airlines. Her job however came to an end when she grew too confident and posted photos on her blog the Delta Airlines considered “inappropriate”. You can read her blog The Queen of the Sky, but the posts for 2004 have all been blocked so the only way to get an inkling of what was shared is via her book.

The Diary of a Dysfunctional Flight Attendant: The Queen of Sky Blog is available on Amazon and you can buy and read the interesting tale of Delta Air Lines former Flight Attendant and now a “fired” blogger.

Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants

So where did it all begin? From the beginning, American airlines hired only young and very attractive white women as airline hostesses. They were the face of women in aviation for much of the first decades since commercial aviation took flight.
Femininity in Flight
 In the book Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants (Radical Perspectives) , the writer Kathleen Barry, explores the topic of femininity in the aviation in the early decades of the 20th Century. The book explores the women’s idealized image in the airline marketing of that epoch.  The book also explores the challenges  faced by these early pioneers in the work environment including the no-marriage laws imposed by the airlines, the limit of the retirement age at 32, and trade unionism. An interesting exploration of the history of this very fascinating career. You can find the book Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants (Radical Perspectives) an Amazon .

Flight Attendants by Brian Finke

Flight Attendants by Brian Finke is an interesting photo journal or documentary about the modern flight attendants. Brian Finke began photographing flight attendants on domestic flights including Delta Airlines, JetBlue, Hawaiian Airlines and Southwest Airlines, documenting their lives on and off duty. When he began his international travelers, he continued his passion and went on to cover such airlines as Air Asia, AN, Japan, Thai and Tiger Airways amongst others.
Flight Attendants: Who Are They?
The result of his work is the interesting photography book about the flight attendants, the young, brave and beautiful dreamers who fly 40,000 feet giving travelers the experience of their lives while fulfilling their dreams. Anyone who is interested in the work and lives of airline stewardesses will find this book interesting. Rarely do you find such close and magnificent caption of the lives and work of the flight attendants. It is not always as glam as it appears. It is challenging work but it also has some beautiful moments like checking in to a posh hotel while you wait for your next call of duty, or shopping in some glamorous shopping mall in a new city.

Buy Flight Attendants by Brian Finke and get a glimpse into the glamorous women that drive our skies.

Come Fly with Us: The History of the Flight Attendants over the years

The evolution of the role of flight attendants from the golden age of travel to date has been quite dramatic. Today, we are likely to associate Flight Attendants with high fashion on the skies but this has not always been the case. The book Come Fly with Us!: A Global History of the Airline Hostess is a must read for anyone interested in becoming a Flight attendant or fascinated with the flight attendant career. The book discusses the evolution of flight attendants from the nurses of the 30s to the glamorous fashion icons of the 60s and 70s wearing short pants emblazoned with the words “Pure, Sober and Available”.
Glamor in the Skies
 In the 1930s, the job of flight attendant could be compared to modern day nursing.  They were involved in such duties as swatting the flies to helping passengers read railroad timetables in case the flights were forced on an emergency landing. Their job involved more of serving and care giving to ensure passengers were as comfortable during flight.

According to Come Fly with Us!: A Global History of the Airline Hostess , the air hostesses of the 50s were more on “wives in training”. They were good at various household-like duties ranging from preparing baby bottles to mixing martinis for passengers as aviation spread its wings.

The 60 and 70s were the sexy years when the flight attendants became the sex symbols that they have long been associated with in modern airline hostess narrative. Airlines like Brainiff outfitted their flight attendants in microskirts and sexy outfit in order to attract the male traveling public. Buy a Copy of Come Fly With Us and read about the transformation of the airlines hostess careers over the years and the women who pioneered this industry that continues to fascinate the traveling public.
You can Buy Come Fly With Us: The Global History of the Airline Hostess on Amazon, see below

Monday, March 12, 2012

Nigeria Airways Flight Attendant

Nigeria Airways was founded in 1958 and ceased operations in  2003. In 1981, Nigeria Airways was Africa's fastest growing airline serving an estimated 46 destinations in 4 continents including North America and South America. Like everything else in the country, everything that could go wrong did go wrong in Nigeria and the airline too was dissolved. Nigeria has been unable to build anything else close to Nigeria Airways which was quite something in its heydays. Here is a photo of a Nigerian Airways stewardess in 1962. As the photo clearly shows, things were still looking good and people were optimistic. The calm before the storm as it turned out.
Nigeria Airways Flight Attendant Tunde Eyo Photographed in 1962

Air Astana Flight Attendant Photos

The airline connecting the world to the heart of Eurasia. Air Astana  is the de facto airline and national flag carrier for Kazakhstan, based in Almaty. I did not get the best shots but hoping these will do to give you  aglimpse into Air Astana's stewardess uniforms. Here's a glimpse of some of Air Astana stewardesses:
Air Astana Flight Attendants
Air Astana Cabin Crew with other members of staff
Air Astana Flight Attendant looks on