Enjoy air travel with a 1950s stewardess.

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Welcome aboard.

When passengers boarded the plane; a stewardess would greet everyone and hand them a postcard. Since flying was so rare passengers felt compelled to document every moment on postcards with pictures of the plane or in-flight meal, to show their less lucky loved ones what the newfangled experience was like.

Hang on to your hat – Turbulence could snap your neck.

Since pistons powered commercial planes, not jet engines, the engines’ sound blasted, and their vibrations bumped like crazy in turbulence. It was common to ground planes when the turbulence got too intense.

Relax and enjoy your flight – You have heaps of legroom.

Coach seats had three to six inches more legroom than they do today — 1950s economy class looked more like first class

Smoking was acceptable, and for much longer than you’d think.

During the 1950s, smoking (of cigarettes, pipes, and cigars) was acceptable in the air, but strangely not in the terminal (they were afraid cigarettes might ignite the fuel fumes). It wasn’t until 2000 that law mandated all flights to and from the U.S. be smoke-free

Drink Up! Liquor drinks are free.

Alcohol was a popular form of in-flight entertainment. There was no limit to the free alcohol; it was not uncommon to come off a flight hammered.

Eat up.

Food variety took off in the 1950s when airlines such as Northwest Airlines brought in spaces like their “Fujiyama Room,” a lounge that served up cut pineapples studded with shrimp, cheese, cherry tomatoes, and fruit squares.

American Airlines, based in Texas, served up the chicken pie with a biscuit topping, while Southern Airlines served Louisiana dishes like a Creole shrimp salad remoulade. 

And what about the 1950s stewardess?

She was an impeccable hostess

Postwar America was awash with domesticity. When the men returned from the war, women left the workforce and went home to their role as full-time homemakers. They were expected to smile and serve casseroles to their husbands. Airline ads of the era followed society’s theme and portrayed the stewardess as the consummate 1950s woman – the ideal wife-to-be, who knew how to look charming, pamper men, and mix martinis.


She was the impeccable wife-to-be

Hundreds applied for each stewardess position, and only a few landed a stewardess career. Airlines chose what they considered the crème de la crème. The recruits were young, unmarried, charming, well-read, slender, pretty, and white. But the stewardess became an independent trailblazer who bridged the gap between the ’50s homemaker and the career woman of the ’60s.

What did she need to become a crème de la crème?

An expectation that she would wear a “well-fitted girdle” and bright red nail polish. Since airlines assumed that the bloom of youth vanished, most airlines had a mandatory retirement rule that no stewardess could work after her 32 birthday.

Stay calm

The stewardess’ primary responsibility is for passenger’s comfort and safety.


1950s stewardess recalls her experiences

What was it really like to fly during the Golden Age of Travel?

Airline stewardesses through the ages.

This is what your flight used to look like


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Judy Kundert

Judy Kundert, a recipient of the Marquis Who’s Who Excellence in Authorship award, loves storytelling, from folk and fairy tales to classics for elementary school children. She authors award-winning middle-grade novels designed to inspire and intrigue children. After she left her career as a United Airlines stewardess, she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree from Loyola University, Chicago and a Master of Arts from DePaul University, Chicago. Most recently, she completed a master’s Certificate in Public Relations and Marketing from the University of Denver. For fun, she likes reading (usually three or four books at a time), watching movies from the oldies to the current films, traveling, biking, and hiking in vast Colorado outdoors with her husband. Learn more at www.judykundert.com.You can find me at the foot of the Colorado Rocky Mountains hiking, biking

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