From Stewardess to Flight Attendant: 80 Years of Sophistication and Sexism

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Tracing the timeline of the profession–and the uniforms—since the 1930s.

Although flight attendants today are predominantly female, the world’s first flight attendant was actually a German man, Heinrich Kubis, who is credited with assisting passengers on the DELAG Zeppelin LZ 10 Schwaben. (Kubis was also aboard the LZ 129 Hindenburg, and survived by jumping out of a window.) In fact, men were the only stewards initially hired on planes: U.K. airline Imperial Airways had “cabin boys” in the 1920s, and U.S. carriers like Stout Airways, Western Airlines, and Pan Am followed suit in 1926, 1928, and 1929, respectively. That all changed, though, as war efforts ramped up. Here, a history of females as flight attendants—and a look at where we are today.