The Requirements

All flight attendants had to be registered nurses up until the start of World War II. At this point, the supply of nurses dwindled because many went off to war. Other requirements were not always as practical but nevertheless became ingrained in the image of stewardesses.

For example, these were the minimum qualifications required by Florida-based National Airlines in the 1940s:

National Airways Stewardess

A 1970s National Airlines Stewardess

  1. Age limit - 20 through 25 years of age
  2. Height - 5'2" to 5'6" (inclusive), stocking feet
  3. Weight - 105 through 125 pounds, properly proportioned
  4. Applicant must be single
  5. Unquestionable family background
  6. Poise
  7. Irreproachable character
  8. Pleasant personality
  9. Good conversationalist
  10. Ability to deal with people
  11. Speaking knowledge of Spanish or French desirable, but not required
  12. Applicant must have completed two years of college or have business background deemed equivalent to college
  13. Applicant must be of perfect physical condition, no disfigurations, attractive, straight even teeth, clear skin texture, well-shaped hands, attractive hair and style, straight attractive legs, straight and well proportioned facial features

While airlines claimed that some of the requirements, like height and weight restrictions, were to ensure mobility on an airplane, others were blatantly made to create a specific image. Additionally, virtually all airlines required stewardesses to resign when they got married or reached a certain age.