Table of Contents
(CNN) — “I got here of age when the jet age got here of age,” says Ann Hood, an American novelist and New York Instances best-selling writer, whose newest ebook “Fly Woman” is a memoir of her adventurous years as a TWA flight attendant, proper on the finish of the Golden Age of air commute.
As a kid, rising up in Virginia, she witnessed the primary flight of the Boeing 707 — which ushered within the generation of passenger jet commute — and watched Dulles airport being constructed.
On the age of eleven, after she moved again to her local Rhode Island along with her circle of relatives, she learn a 1964 ebook titled “Learn how to turn out to be an airline stewardess,” and her thoughts was once made up.
“Even though it was once sexist as hell, it enticed me as it mentioned having a task that allowed you to look the arena and I believed, neatly, that would possibly paintings.”
When she graduated from school, in 1978, Hood began sending activity packages to airways. “I believe 1978 was once a in point of fact fascinating yr, as a result of lots of the girls I went to school with had one foot in previous concepts and stereotypes, and the opposite foot sooner or later. It was once more or less a complicated time for younger ladies.”
“Flight attendant” was once a newly minted time period, a gender impartial improve from “hostesses” and “stewardesses,” and deregulation of the airline trade was once across the nook, in a position to shake issues up.
However for probably the most section, flying was once nonetheless glamorous and complicated and flight attendants had been nonetheless “gorgeous and attractive adorns,” as Hood places it, even if they had been already combating for ladies’s rights and towards discrimination.
The stereotype of stewardesses in miniskirts flirting with male passengers nonetheless persisted, popularized by way of books like “Espresso, tea, or me? The uninhibited memoirs of 2 airline stewardesses” — revealed as factual in 1967, however later published to were written by way of Donald Bain, an American Airways PR government.
One of the most worst necessities to be employed as a flight attendant — corresponding to age restrictions and shedding the activity in case of marriage or childbirth — had already been lifted, however others remained.
Probably the most surprising one, possibly, was once the truth that girls needed to care for the load that they had on the time of hiring.
“All airways despatched a chart together with your software, you checked out your peak and the utmost weight and in case you didn’t fall inside of that, they would not even interview you,” says Hood. “However as soon as you were given employed, a minimum of at TWA, you could not cross as much as that most weight. You needed to keep at your hiring weight, which in my case was once about 15 kilos lower than my most restrict.
“My roommate were given fired over this. The in point of fact horrible factor about it, rather then what it did to ladies, is this restriction was once now not got rid of till the Nineteen Nineties.”
Hood was once considered one of 560 flight attendants, out of 14,000 candidates, employed in 1978 by way of TWA, then a big provider, received by way of American Airways in 2001.
The activity began with a couple of days of intense coaching in Kansas Town, the place cadet flight attendants would be informed the whole lot from airplane section names to emergency clinical procedures, in addition to the protection protocols of 7 other airplane. The record incorporated the Queen of the Skies, the Boeing 747.
“It was once more or less terrifying, as it was once so giant — and the steps, the spiral stairs that ended in top notch that you simply needed to cross up and down now not once in a while,” says Hood. “I might stay considering: do not commute. Sooner or later I were given used to it.”
Hood’s favourite aircraft was once a Lockheed L-1-11 TriStar.
Christopher Deahr/Second Editorial/Flickr Imaginative and prescient/Getty Photographs
She says her favourite aircraft to paintings on was once the Lockheed L-1011 TriStar. “Regionally, best Japanese Airways and TWA flew it. It was once an excessively approachable, workable widebody aircraft with a phenomenal setup of 2 seats on each and every facet after which 4 seats within the heart, so everyone may just get out simply. No one was once unsatisfied on that aircraft.”
Flying was once nonetheless glamorous on the time, she says.
“Folks dressed as much as fly and remembered the meals in a great way. It is in point of fact other from nowadays. I will be able to best evaluate it to being in a wonderful lodge, or perhaps on a cruise send. Not anything was once plastic and trainer was once tremendous great,” says Hood, who recollects donning her Ralph Lauren-designed uniform and carving chateaubriand cooked to style for top notch passengers, who additionally had a collection of Russian caviar and lobster bisque to move with their Dom Perignon.
It wasn’t all a mattress of roses. Smoking on board was once fashionable, and for flight attendants it was once a nightmare.
“In case you went on a five-day commute, which wasn’t unusual, you needed to pack a separate complete uniform since you simply would scent such a lot like smoke,” Hood says. “Boy, was once I happy when that stopped. The entrance rows of each and every segment had been deemed non-smoking, however the entire aircraft was once full of smoke since you could not stay it from going backwards, it was once ridiculous.”
What concerning the Mile Prime Membership? “It wasn’t unusual on world flights to look a person cross into the toilet and a minute later his seatmate sign up for him, or some model of that,” says Hood. “It did not occur on each flight, however you noticed it.
“World flights generally were not as complete as they’re now, so in the ones heart sections of 5 seats on a 747 you need to see a pair put the armrests up, take a blanket and disappear beneath it. I will be able to’t say what they had been doing, nevertheless it appeared suspicious.”
As for passengers flirting or asking flight attendants out, it was once additionally not unusual. “I did date passengers, however that was once most commonly disastrous. It was once by no means what I had imagined. However in 1982, I met a man on a flight from San Francisco to New York. He was once sitting in 47F — and I dated him for 5 years.”
An empowering activity
Hood left the activity in 1986 to concentrate on her writing occupation.
Hood has noticed her justifiable share of ordinary issues on board. “The most eldritch would unquestionably be the lady in top notch who looked to be breastfeeding her cat. I imply, I will be able to’t say that it was once in reality taking place, however she had her cat to her breast.
“After which the fellow who flew the entire means in his tighty-whities and his get dressed blouse and tie, as a result of he did not wish to wrinkle his pants for a task interview. Or the fellow on a 747 in Frankfurt who was once driving his bicycle down the aisle,” she unearths.
That stated, the regimen would from time to time kick in, and now not each flight was once a wondrous listen of journey and glamor.
“I might say the activity was once 80% amusing and 20% uninteresting. In some flights, particularly those who were not very complete, there was once numerous time to fill. You’ll best serve folks such a lot meals and such a lot of beverages, and play such a lot of films. I made the activity amusing. I beloved speaking to folks. I beloved the texture of it. I nonetheless love flying nowadays,” says Hood.
She says it was once certainly conceivable to in reality talk over with and revel in the towns she traveled to. “Now and again your layover was once in point of fact brief otherwise you had been simply drained, however for probably the most section, town was once proper out the door. I very a lot took good thing about that once flying the world over.”
She left the activity to concentrate on her writing occupation in 1986, and by way of that point issues had modified. Deregulation, which got rid of federal keep an eye on over the whole lot from fares to routes, had come totally into impact, converting flying perpetually.
Planes changed into full of extra seats and trainer stopped being as delightful, however flying was once additionally democratized and made to be had to a a ways greater proportion of society.
Hood says she is pleased with her occupation within the skies.
“Flight attendants are a power. They are extremely unionized. They are unbiased. Within the cabin, they make all of the selections. They have got to troubleshoot. They are there for the emergency stuff. They land in towns the place they do not know the rest or somebody and to find their means.
“It is such an empowering activity, but it is a sexist activity. In itself, it’s as contradictory nowadays because the time wherein I began it,” she says.
Nonetheless, she recommends it as a occupation possibility.
“I used to be 21 when I used to be employed, and it gave me self belief, it gave me poise, and the facility to assume on my ft,” she provides. “To take fee on that plane, and after I were given off, to stroll right into a town and really feel utterly at house — or a minimum of work out methods to really feel at house in it.
“I have no idea if it will have to be somebody’s existence’s paintings — if they would like it to be that, nice. However I believe a couple of years operating as a flight attendant may just exchange your existence.”