The Sexy Flight Attendant

Stewardesses were originally symbols of maternal comfort and security. However, beginning in the late 1950s, entrepreneurial airline executives realized the potential of using the mystique and charm of their young, single sky girls as a marketing tool.

Catch Our Smile

At first, the most noticeable change was the expanding services expected of stewardesses. Beyond normal duties such as safety demonstrations and food service, they were encouraged to engage passengers (especially men) with charming conversation and flirtations. On male-only executive flights, stewardesses would light passengers' complimentary cigars and pour them champagne.

Female flight attendants soon had a reputation of being highly promiscuous, an idealization encouraged by events such as when a United Airlines stewardess was featured in Playboy Magazine in 1955.

A 1965 article written by a female reporter at the Des Moines Register explains the straddling position stewardesses' had between their professional duties and the high expectations presumed of them:

"The airline stewardess has one of the most frustrating jobs in the world. Male passengers expect her to look like a Las Vegas showgirl, and are angry when she doesn't. Female passengers are angry when she does, and are fond of calling her a 'flying waitress.' Bachelors say she's not as glamorous as she used to be, yet would trade their collection of James Bond paperbacks for a date with her."

Read about the provacative advertising used in the 1970s.