Vintage Air Hostesses

Vintage Air Hostesses

The first female flight attendant was a 25-year-old registered nurse named Ellen Church, she was hired by United Airlines in 1930. In the United States, the job was one of only a few in the 1930s to permit women, which led to large numbers of applicants for the few positions available. Female flight attendants rapidly replaced male ones, and by 1936, they had all but taken over the role. They were selected not only for their knowledge but also for their characteristics. In the United States, they were required to be unmarried and were fired if they decided to wed. A 1936 New York Times article described the requirements:

“The girls who qualify for hostesses must be petite; weight 100 to 118 pounds; height 5 feet to 5 feet 4 inches; age 20 to 26 years. Add to that the rigid physical examination each must undergo four times every year, and you are assured of the bloom that goes with perfect health.”

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