Glamour Girls Of The Air: Inside the Flight Attentant Culture Of The 1960s

The role of flight attendant these days is to make sure everyone is properly and safely aboard their respective airplane flights. They then provide aid, drinks, and snacks to help pass the tedium of air travel.

Stewardess 4

However, in earlier versions of such jobs included the role of the air stewardesses. Back in the early days of flying, their job didn’t just include support and aid for those flying, but also included the role of “eye candy” for some airline passengers.

Stewardess 3

A retro appraisal of the latter role can be found on the Miss Moss web site featuring 1958 photos of flight stewardesses back then. Located at, the website details the life of these women from stewardess school to actual work on the job. Peter Stackpole took these shots for Life Magazine back at the time and the shots seem to portray a glamorous life enjoyed by these women.

Stewardess 2

Even Life Magazine noted that the line of work wasn’t well-paying with limited chances of promotion. The article even notes that a “perk” would be meeting the kind of men who can afford plane trips. In short, it is suggested that one of the ways for stewardesses to advance their way into the world was to find a “sugar daddy” 30,000 feet off the ground.

There are some respectable shots of the ladies posing by the plane or even inspecting the luggage compartment. Other photos include the stewardesses serving meals on lunch trays (which have disappeared nowadays on airliners only to be replaced by snack boxes with a swipe of one’s debit card).

Stewardess 1

But the article and the photos also note the first thing a prospect does at stewardess school is looking-based. Courses are conducted on make-up, cutting one’s hair to appropriate and respectable length, and slimming down. No matter the duties, the womens’ looks and mannerisms seemed more important. That is why there were even contests such as this one back in the day.

In the end, the photos do highlight the fact that a prospect needed to have the appropriate height and figure to be even considered.

Stewardess 5

At least the final shots showed the women enjoying the beach and taking in sights of Manhattan at the time. In this, there is as a reference to another perk about traveling and seeing the world. At least that is a legitimate perk even to this day.


Screengrab via: Youtube

image via: MissMoss