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Timeline: A Flight Attendant’s Opinion About This Profession Over The Decades

The opinions expressed in this article are the writer’s own and do not reflect the views of Her Campus.
This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Have you ever imagined what it would be like to become a flight attendant? This profession that emerged in the 1930s is still very popular nowadays. But what is it like to work without a routine and in a constant travel mood? Get to know more about the life in the air from a professional in the area, as well as a little more about the story behind this career path. 

It all started with a nurse called Ellen Church, who wanted to be a pilot, however no company would hire her because she was a woman. As a plan B, Ellen managed to convince Boeing Air Transport executives that hiring a woman would help calm passengers with a fear of flying. May 15, 1930, eight women were hired. The “experiment” was supposed to last for three months, but due to its efficiency, it only opened doors to more women wishing to pursue a career in the sky. 

One of these women is Jaqueline Piñeiro-Passos, a Brazilian flight attendant who has been in the business for 23 years. She currently works at Air Canada, a company specialized in North American flights. She came across this profession while pursuing another: her dream was to work on the ground, as an agent, making check-ins. At that time, the company was only hiring for a flight attendant position, so she enrolled in the course, with the vision of transferring areas in the future. Nevertheless, she fell in love with the profession.

The work of a flight attendant may seem really nice, but it requires a lot of preparation. You have to be a really flexible person since the job does not have a routine. Besides that, it is necessary to have an ability to frequently deal with different people and multiple cultures. When asked how she deals with the lack of stability, Jaqueline says: “I love not having a routine. Knowing I can do my scales the way I like, that I can work the days I select. And now that I’ve worked for 23 years, I can choose the places I wish to go”.

Although it is a great position, there are also some downfalls in the area. When talking about clothing, the base of the uniform has not suffered a lot of changes in the last decades, usually consisting of a skirt and a blazer.  In 2021, an Ukranian company called Sky Up changed their uniforms for a more comfortable look, consisting of sneakers and pants. On the topic of other companies adopting these changes, Jaqueline believes it is very hard for everyone to do that, since some airlines are way too traditional. In addition, when addressing her own uniform, she claims: “I feel like it is a bit old”.

I love not having a routine [and] knowing I can do my scales the way I like

Throughout the years, these professionals have been highly sexualized. In the 50s and 60s, the area was already dominated by the female population, but because companies found it interesting to hire young, attractive, and unmarried white women, under the impression they could be paid less than a male worker and that they were a way to attract male passengers. Unfortunately, this issue is still present.

“For many years, when I started the job, my husband was told a lot of sexist things, such as ‘how do you let your wife work as a flight attendant?’. One time on board, I had to stop serving a passenger and ask him to not even look at me. I already had people flirting with me in front of their wives, who did not speak English. These things still happen, way less, but they still do”, she tells.

While it may be thought of as a women’s job, Jaqueline says she has worked with various people, both  in gender and age. During its existence, the profession has gone through many name changes, such as stewardess, hostess, and since the 70s, flight attendant, considering it is a more gender neutral term.

The article above was edited by Giovana Lins Barbosa.
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Maria Esther Cortez

Casper Libero '25

Journalism student. Passionate about culture, movies, art and music. I love to travel and explore different parts of the world.