I saw this post on the Delta Airlines blog and it brought back memories. Back in the early days of flying (I may have taken my first flight in the late 1950’s) boys were given pilot wings and girls were given stewardess wings. Of course today we call stewardesses flight attendants and there are a lot more male ones then their used to me.
It’s more than a PC name change though. There was a connotation about stewardesses back then. They were mostly young and frequently good looking. And they were taking care of a heavily male clientele. And if they were not explicitly valued for their sex appeal there was always a hint of that. Southwest went so far as to dress their stewardesses in hot pants. OK maybe that was fairly explicit. But the fact was that there was something of an idea that women on airplanes were servants. Pilots on the other hand were important – they ran things. Also that being a pilot was a man’s job.
Today it’s different. I have flown a number of commercial flights with women pilots and co-pilots. Most flights have at least one male flight attendant. And in general I think that flight attendants are taken more seriously. And well they should be. I think that on most flights the flight attendants are a lot more important to the comfort and experience of the trip than the pilots. And having to deal with all sorts of people on a crowded airplane is often quite a chore.
We don’t think about “men’s jobs” and “women’s jobs” so much any more. It’s not gone away – just try and be an elementary school teacher and a man some time. But I think we are making progress.
Oh and if you think that all flight attendants are middle aged women – not that there is anything wrong with that as some of them look pretty good too – fly IcelandAir sometime. From what I read Singapore Airlines works hard to have attractive flight attendants. But honestly I have no complaints and cute young flight attendants are not what I look for. I have been well taken care of on Delta for years and years. They are and have long been my airline of choice. I’ll take the experience and quality of their flight attendants any day.