But was that always the case? There's this popular narrative out there that's got many gazing at the travel industry of old through rosy lenses. Back in the day, passengers enjoyed fancy food, spacious seats, and an army of beautiful flight attendants attending to them. Today, the most luxurious experience you'll have at an airport is shuffling through the TSA checkpoint at a decent speed and avoiding getting crammed next to an overly-talkative seat neighbor.
However, as CNN reported, our "nostalgia usually doesn't include the high prices, limited routes and cigarette smoke clinging to the air."
As usual, sentimental remembrance tends to leave out some important details. This includes the dark side of the flight attendant's supposedly glitzy gig.
As Travel and Leisure magazine previously reported, in the 1950s and 1960s, "the requirements [for becoming a flight attendant] were draconian: Barbie-doll height and weight standards, girdles and heels worn at all times, and mandatory retirement by the decrepit age of... 32." The article goes on to note that litigation eventually abolished these rigid, superficial prerequisites for airline stewardesses (and stewards).
Despite that creepiness, working as a flight attendant did give plenty of people the opportunity to see the world and secure employment. In fact, before the "Mad Men" era, Travel and Leisure notes that 1930s "sky girls" might even help refuel planes.
Navy WAVE (United States Naval Women's Reserve) Betty M. Chaffee serves as a stewardess on a Navy Transport Squadron flight crew in 1951. She brings coffee to the pilots of the transcontinental flight, Lieutenant Junior Grade L.K. Shay (left) and Lieutenant Junior Grade J.R. Keegan (right).