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Groovy Era Airline Stewardesses Provided Service with a Smile!

Culture | November 12, 2018

The Wright Brothers, Wilbur and Orville, brought the concept of air travel to the forefront with their invention of the airplane in 1903.  

The original airplane, invented by the Wright Brothers, was a result of their collective efforts to create a means of transportation that would fly through the air. Back in their day, that would have been equivalent to the concept of Noah building the ark or sending a man to the Moon. The fact is, however, that the concepts they developed, once considered unconventional at best, effectively made their mark on history and still remain in place today in air travel.

At first, air travel was just that… air travel. It was a new and exciting concept but was still just considered a means of transportation to get from “here” to “there,”  at best.  Not many took stock in it.  There was nothing extraordinary about traveling by air other than the fact that it was, then, considered unconventional and feared to be dangerous. By the end of the '50s, air travel was gaining popularity… 

1960s SMILING PORTRAIT OF AIRLINE STEWARDESS IN AIRPLANE AISLE (Photo by H. Armstrong Roberts/Classic Stock/Getty Images)

Enter… the groovy era! Air travel and sexy airline stewardesses caught the attention of many! They were charged with providing service with a smile! Let’s face it… SEXY sells!

The counterculture ushered in many hip concepts including racial equality, political reform and woman’s liberation to mention just a few… not to mention flying in a “modern” airplane. At this time in history, airplanes were not a new concept, but they had risen to a new level. Initially, airlines offered transportation that was functional at best.  

“Coffee, tea or ME?”

“Coffee, tea or ME?” This is one of the memorable advertising slogans that come to mind when remembering groovy airline promotions. Beautiful women were portrayed as sex objects who would meet any need of their charges. Some patrons took this marketing concept just a little bit too far and chose, “ME,” as their option.  

Once the concept of the beautiful, curvy and obliging airline stewardess was introduced, air travel became more popular!

Airlines were and are just like any other consumer industry… they want your business! That being said, commercial airlines decided to capitalize on more than just the convenience of saving precious travel time. Advertisers took it a step further by marketing the fact that consumers would be spoiled rotten by doting stewardesses. That’s right… just say the word and you can have whatever you want! At the time, men were the majority of the consumer demographic so… you can guess the rest!

Back in the groovy era, airline stewardesses were strictly women. These women were not considered professionals, but rather glorified waitresses and were employed to meet every need of their passengers.

Historically, airline hospitality employees were called stewardesses and were typically women. Fast forward to the '80s, '90s and beyond… These days, both women and men are employed in this capacity. 

Like many other professions in the modern day, the stewardess/flight attendant is now one that is now non-gender specific. We now call stewardesses - flight attendants.  All good things MUST come to an end, or so we are told. The curvy blonde with a short skirt has now been replaced by… well, anything goes now!

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Rebeka Knott

Writer

Rebeka grew up in the 1960’s & 1970’s and has always subscribed to the theory that a positive attitude will take you far! She is a wife and mother of 3 with a fun-loving spirit, believing that family and relationships are invaluable.