The turbulence of being a flight attendant in 2022 | Way of life

Few jobs on the planet have changed as drastically over the years as the job of a flight attendant.

Around the turn of the last century, when wealthy vagrants started paying top dollar to travel, planes were much smaller and it was the co-pilot who doubled as the stewardess, serving meals and drinks . As airplanes got bigger, men wearing military-style coveralls were first hired as flight attendants in the 1920s, as it was thought they would inspire confidence in the exciting new occupation of the air Transport.

Stewardesses arrived in large numbers in the 1930s and Ellen Church was the first woman to be hired as a stewardess, as they were then called, by United Airlines in 1930. At that time it was a job dream that very few young ladies were able to disembark. The girls were all white and they were the daughters of aristocrats, traveling the world to distant destinations and leading glamorous lives. They have worked for Pan Am, Braniff, TWA, BOAC and United.

As airplanes got bigger in the 1940s and 1950s, airlines demanded more flight attendants. Sex always sells. And men in corporate boardrooms wanted to use sex appeal to attract wealthy male passengers. The definition of what a flight attendant should look like has also changed. Gorgeous girls with this Coco-Cola bottle shape were encouraged to apply, but they had to be white, at least 20 years old, between 5ft 2in and 5ft 9in tall, unmarried, unmarried, without children and not an ounce over 135 lbs. . They had to sign an agreement that they weren’t planning on getting pregnant or getting married anytime soon.

Top designers were brought in to spice up the stewardess uniforms and soon after matronly hats and gloves were replaced by hot pants and stunning mini skirts.

In the 1950s, unexpected turbulence nearly upset the serving trays. In 1957, Ruth Taylor, a beautiful black woman, applied for a job as a flight attendant with TWA and she was turned down. Taylor filed a discrimination complaint with the New York State Discrimination Commission against the airline. The blatant racism was clear to all, and the historic complaint broke down barriers and opened up jobs for a new generation of black flight attendants, including Taylor.

Air Jamaica arrived on the scene in the late 60s to “settle the di ting”. The airline featured an almost all-black crew of beauties. Aircraft colors were as strong as flight attendant uniforms and the airline defined and cemented its Jamaican identity with the introduction of electrifying fashion shows and rum cocktails on board, as well as duty-free shopping on board. for perfumes, tobacco and alcohol. . Our little island had arrived on the world stage, with its DC 8 and DC 9 jets whizzing towards the great gateways of New York, Toronto, London and Frankfurt. At some point in the early 1980s, a collaboration with British Airways offered high-speed Concorde service between New York’s JFK and Montego Bay. The 90-minute service left New York at 9 a.m. and arrived in Montego Bay at 9:30 a.m. local time. Tickets weren’t cheap, but the service was stunning, and Captain John Cook, who often operated the flight, was always quick to show the display of multicolored lights and switches in the cockpit to anyone interested, reminding spectators that his craft could cruise at 1,200 miles per hour.


Life was good for Jamaican flight attendants. They were trained by high school professionals like Marguerite Kirkpatrick in the art of walking, smiling, pouring wine and champagne, and standing with their left heel perpendicular to their right foot, turned at an angle geometric. A former Miss Jamaica and BOAC flight attendant, Betty Ann Lindo, embodied the perfect position that apparently came from rigorous training. The girls bathed in the neon splendor of big cities, luxury hotels, shopping sprees and continually met stars, celebrities, government officials and world luminaries.

By the early 1970s, air travel was booming and it was no longer an exclusive luxury for the rich and famous. Pan American operated a Boeing 747 from Montego Bay to JFK in New York and Kingston had direct flights to unlikely destinations like Mérida, Port-au-Prince and San Juan.

The decades that followed revolutionized air transport. Everyone was traveling, a hot meal and two checked bags included. But then that slowly changed and the travel experience became more like a crowded minibus ride from May Pen to Parade. Hot meals were mostly eliminated, free checked bags were reduced to one bag, and flight changes began to incur high fees. Making a reservation with the airline or through a travel agency weeks or months before travel became a thing of the past and passengers had to pay in full when booking. The first-class dress code passed through the cabin door as shorts and sandals replaced designer suits, hats and gloves.


Fast forward to 2021, in the midst of the pandemic, when a flight attendant’s dream job turned into a scary nightmare. Air Jamaica has been gone for years, but the Association of Flight Attendants reports that an alarming 85% of flight attendants have recently had trouble with what the Federal Aviation Authority (FAA) now describes as “unruly passengers.” “. Horror travelers daily curse and abuse flight attendants for being forced to wear masks. Some flight attendants have been spat on by passengers and it is not uncommon for altercations to result in bad delays, cancellations, in-flight reversals to the gate, leading to physical abuse and arrests.

What I mean is that the job of being a flight attendant has changed so much that airlines are no longer primarily interested in pretty smiling faces. On the contrary, a grizzly, tough, mean, muscular appearance backed by a martial arts background with a willingness to throw a few kicks, punches, and strategic karate strikes can be a huge asset, even if people from the human resources would never do it. admit that. These jungle skills can get a flight attendant much faster these days than just being a helpless pageant queen!

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