By DebbieH 19 Nov 2018 6 min read

1950s Air Hostess reveals this strict airline rule


An air hostess who served with United Airlines in the USA in the early 1950s has revealed the height restrictions that were in place.

Ethel Pattison, a historian at Los Angeles airport and  previously a United Airlines air hostess has revealed a very strict regulation cabin crew had to abide by during her time as cabin crew, regarding their height.

In the 1950s and 60s, air hostesses were expected to look pleasing to the eye. Cabin crew had to take great care of their appearance, as the early decades were strongly associated with glamour and luxury, since only the wealthy could afford to fly.

However, some flight attendant requirements were also very practical and necessary, as Ethel Pattison, now 93, tells the Sunday Express.

Ethel joined United Airlines in 1951 as a stewardess. A historian today, she explained how air hostesses working during her time were expected to be within a certain height bracket.

“In those days, those ladies applying to be stewardesses had to be 5 foot 2 inches to 5 foot 8 inches,” she told

This. Ethel says, was entirely from practical reasons as the woman needed to be able to reach upwards as well as not scraping the aircraft ceiling.

“With the jets, planes were bigger and so height increased to 5 foot 10 inches to reach the overhead storage.”

Air hostesses were also required to look after their weight, and this was measured by management on a regular basis.

A New York Times classified ad for stewardesses at Eastern Airlines listed the following requirements in 1966: “A high school graduate, single (widows and divorcees with no children considered), 20 years of age (girls 19 1/2 may apply for future consideration).

“5’2” but no more than 5’9″, weight 105 to 135 in proportion to height.”

Ethel told Sunday Express: “I enjoyed being a stewardess, living with roommates in Seattle and travelling and learning about the United States, it was a great experience for me,” Ethel said.

Ethel went on the become America’s First Airport Tour Guide in 1956 at Los Angeles airport. The airport then was incredibly different to the huge bustling hub it is today.

“LAX was three two storey buildings before the jet age airport in 1961, two for the airlines with small seating area for passengers and their outside gates and one for post office, bank, coffee shop and weather bureau, restaurant and observation deck on the second story,” she explained.

She added: “Looking back in time at how far LAX has come, it seems to adapt to its growth and increase in passenger totals well and we look forward to seeing it continue to reach its potential.”



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