Get away from the hectic 21st century and time travel back to the carefree 1960s and enjoy your flight.
Passengers were well heeled and famous
If you were one of the lucky few to board a Boeing 707, you’d feel like a movie star. Air travel’s image was glamor and excitement. It was for the rich and famous. And movies at that time reflected that glamor.
The 1963 film “The VIPs” tells the story of a group of wealthy people stranded at Heathrow by lousy weather.
The most famous 60s spy, James Bond, traveled by plane to Jamaica n Dr. No
and to Miami (in “Goldfinger”).
Flight crew glamor – War hero pilots and Stewardess who looked like movie stars
The 1960s were the golden age of jet air travel.
Pilots were war heroes who looked like matinee idols.
Stewardesses looked like movies stars, and passengers were served seven-course meals with a cocktail.
And every child dreamed of working on an airline, and the new age of air travel symbolized the optimism, the glamour and the new consumerism of the decade.
What about the glamorous stewardess?
Here are some views from the world of advertising.
1958: “Glamor Girls of the Air” When American Airlines opened a new stewardess training facility, Life Magazine marked the occasion with a tribute to flight attendants, “Glamor Girls of the Air: For Lucky Ones Being Hostess is the Mostest,” which perfectly captured the postwar vision of stewardesses as cosmopolitan brides-in-training. On Life’s cover were two brightly smiling stewardesses, and inside were trainees preparing for “one of the most coveted careers open to young American women today.” “The job they want does not pay extraordinarily well, only $255 to $355 a month. The life is irregular and the opportunities for promotion are small. But the chance to fly, to see the world and meet all sorts of interesting people—mostly the kind of men who can afford to travel by plane—gives the job real glamour.”
1965: “A showgirl or jet-propelled waitress? The jet age, with its crowded, speedier flights and more motley passenger population posed a new challenge to stewardesses’ glamour image. It was with the advent of jets that travelers and pundits (and occasionally flight attendants themselves) began to speak of the stewardess as merely a glorified waitress and flying itself began losing its cosmopolitan allure. Nonetheless, a female reporter for the Des Moines Register wittily suggested how durable stewardesses’ image was in “Meet the Girl Who Wears Those Silver Wings and a Big Smile”: “The airline stewardess, 1965, 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.”
The stewardess image reached its height of sexualization, becoming a collective cultural fantasy that airlines shamelessly promoted through their advertising. The dark side of this trope was that women who got this prestigious position were often subjected to sexual harassment from drunken passengers, who might pinch, pat, and proposition the stewardesses while they worked, according to Kathleen Barry’s Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants.
Another factor that spelled the end for the “sexy stewardess” was that a lot of these airlines simply were going bankrupt. They suffered from poor labor relations, intransigent management, and high debt burdens. The ones remaining had to cut costs at almost every level. Thus, the days of merriment party, flamboyant decor, and high fashion designer uniforms became ancient history.
Would you like to discover more about the Jet Set 1960?
Jet Set: The People, the Planes, the Glamour, and the Romance in Aviation’s Glory Years by William Stadiem
In October 1958, Pan American World Airways began making regularly scheduled flights between New York and Paris, courtesy of its newly minted wonder jet, the Boeing 707. Almost overnight, the moneyed celebrities of the era made Europe their playground. At the same time, the dream of international travel came true for thousands of ordinary Americans who longed to emulate the “jet set” lifestyle