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United Used to Offer Men-Only Flights

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Old Westbury chapter.

United Airlines has been under fire recently for questionable, sexist, and discriminatory practices but it turns out, this trend dates back to the 1950’s. Starting in 1953, the airline offered “men-only” flights between New York and Chicago and Los Angeles and San Francisco. According to BoardingArea, the “executive flights” were for very important and elite business men, banning women and children, and offered special meals, cocktails, and complimentary cigars. Sounds practically like the Mile High Club.


This is how the airline advertised the VIP, Mad Men-esque flight:

“Relax after a busy day on this special DC-6 mainliner flight. You’ll enjoy the informal, club-like atmosphere. Smoke your pipe or cigar, if you wish, and make yourself more comfortable by using the pair of slippers provided . . .

Take advantage of many special services on this flight. . . If you’d like to do some some work, your stewardess will arrange a table for you.”



As we’ve probably all heard by now, United Airlines has been in the hot seat for the last couple of weeks. First, they forced two young girls to change out of leggings before boarding a flight. Then, a horrifying video surfaced of airport security forcibly removing a man from an overbooked flight. Stories have come out about a bride and groom that were kicked off a flight to Costa Rica for their wedding because they moved seats on a barely-full plane. Then, a woman claimed that she was sexually assaulted by a drunk man on her flight and all the airline did to repay her was offer travel vouchers.

Despite the recent controversies, the Chicago Tribune reported on Tuesday that the price of the airline’s stocks have been on the rise, reporting first-quarter revenue of $8.42 billion, exceeding forecasts of $8.38 billion, and up 2.7 percent from the last year.

Chief executive Oscar Munoz recently said, “We are more determined than ever to put our customers at the center of everything we do.” Now, we’ll have to see if the company really does try to move beyond their elitist, discriminatory culture and make amends.

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Deirdre Bardolf

Old Westbury

"With freedom, books, flowers, and the moon, who could not be happy?" Student, 22. Long Island