Prepare for Take-Off: Sexy Stewardess Uniforms of Yesteryear

flight attendant uniforms

I found these Vintage Flight Attendant Uniforms on Pradagirl‘s flickr page. We’ve come a long way since flight attendants were required to dress like pole dancers, no?


Wow, talk about a little added leg (room). Can you imagine what a SouthWest flight attendant would say if she were asked to wear that today?

I think it’s wonderful that US-based airlines no longer place age or aesthetic requirements on their employees, but sometimes I think they’ve gone too far in their efforts to be fair. I read somewhere that there are flight attendants working for United and American airlines that are well into their 80’s. I’m just not sure how much faith I’d be able to put in an 84-year-old’s ability to steer me out of a burning airplane.

But then I read this article, Heavy hosties get the heave-ho and it made me grateful to be born in a country where the government doesn’t own and operate it’s own airline. The article talks about how Air India fired a few of it’s flight attendants for exceeding the company’s weight-limit policy.

The women sued but nevertheless the judge ruled in the airlines favor, saying this:

“Statistics reveal that overweight persons face constant challenges to their emotions which include remarks from strangers, discrimination at work, lower self-esteem and poor body image.”

I can understand their point if the flight attendants were say, 300 or 500 pounds.
Anyone who works aboard an aircraft is working in a safety-sensitive position and I could see the need to place some weight restrictions. How could a flight attendant, for example, properly escourt passengers out of a crashed plane when their body is so large it blocks the exit?

But Air India’s flight attendants are allowed to weigh a max of 50 Kg.s if they’re 18 years old and 56 Kg. if they’re between the ages of 26 and 30. In pounds, that’s only 110 or 123.

110 pounds!

Can you imagine if those same restrictions were placed on the Western world’s pool of cabin crew? There would literally be no one qualified enough to fly the planes. The entire aviation industry would go under.

Or as one of the fired flight attendants put it: “It’s ridiculous. Weight is not an infectious disease. This is not a modelling job; we are not working a catwalk.”


The ‘Air Hostesses’ of Air India.

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Comments ( 8 )

  1. Kira Petersson-Martin

    Uuuurgh, that's infuriating! My insides are convulsing!

    And it shouldn't be base don AGE, either, but HEIGHT, *if anything.*

    Not that I fly a lot, but Air India is now on my shit list.

    ...You can tell I'm angry when I start Capitalising Words Randomly and abusing punctuation&@$!

  2. Marisa

    Also, most Asian airlines seem to have requirements about the crew as well. I think I remember reading that they only hire pretty woman for the most part. I think they are also told how to wear their makeup and hair.

  3. Reannon

    That's very true. It's not just Air India. In Japan, some airlines force their flight attendants to retire at 45, while the rest of airlines' employees can retire at the normal age of 65.

    Check out this article for more info:

    http://www.thestandard.com.hk/news_detail.asp?pp_cat=30&art_id=64457&sid=18491053&con_type=1

    I suspect that Air India isn't too far off from the norm. It's silly though to think that being young, beautiful or thin has any relevance on how well you can serve coffee and open an emergency exit. It's going to take a while before people are going to let go of the idea that air travel is something glamorous and reserved for the rich and famous. I mean, can you imagine requiring a bus driver or train conductor to look model-gorgeous? In 20 years, we'll think of the cabin crew in the same way.

  4. Reannon

    Every airline, by the way, has a strict appearance policy. They claim that it's important to look professional and military-like so that in the event of an emergency, people will be more likely to listen and trust in their authority.

    Did you know that they used to have the flight attendants dress in nurses uniforms for that same reason?

    This is all info that's coutesy of my mom, by the way. She used to be a flight attendant. : )

  5. sjb

    I think the photos posted by the flight attendant who got fired for posting pics of herself in the cabin in her uniform were tamer than those!

    Good luck with your job search.

  6. Lisa

    Hmm... I would think the requirement would revolve around being strong enough to lift an airplane door!

  7. Reannon

    Yeah, I read about that woman. She worked for Delta and got fired for blogging about her job, right? Just goes to show that you gotta be careful what you write (and don't write), about your job. My friend in Japan got fired for mentioning the name of the school she taught at on her blog...the comment was a positive one but it didn't matter, she'd violated her contract.

  8. Rohit Rao

    A few years too late, but I ran across this post while googling today... This article is not fair to Air India. The flight attendants fired were only fired after being offered a position on airport ground staff. In addition, while the "requirement" was 50 kg, staff are usually given a 10-15 kg allowance before reassignment to ground staff is even considered. The flight attendants were fired for performance reasons, but due to the militant nature of Air India's unions, it's easier to fire on the basis of weight... Also, the picture is of Kingfisher Airlines flight attendants. Kingfisher Airlines (bankrupt airline run by a beer baron) has much stricter requirements from flight attendants, causing many flight attendants at the airline to develop eating disorders. If there is an airline in India you should criticize, it's Kingfisher - not Air India. Here is a picture of Air India crew, instead of Kingifisher: http://www.travelweekly.com/mycapture/original/420633T.jpg