By Julia Corderoy
Flight attendants are known for their poise, professionalism and customer service. But back in the 1950s and 60s, things were a little different.
In fact, they weren't even called flight attendants at all — they were called 'stewardesses'. And a stewardess' most important attributes were her long legs, long eyelashes and perfect hair.
"Our job was to make flying fun," Diane Hansen, a retired Pacific Southwest Airlines (PSA) stewardess who spent 21 years with the airline told the LA Times.
The stewardesses of California's PSA — with their miniskirts, false eyelashes and knee-high boots — were known around the country as the most beautiful girls in the skies. But it was a title that came with shockingly sexist demands.
Back then, airlines were notoriously strict about how a stewardess could look and act.
When Ms Hansen joined PSA in 1967, stewardesses couldn't be married and had to submit to weigh-ins and hairdo inspections before every flight, as well as an inspection to ensure they'd shaved their legs.
The appearance of the flight crew was so important that the young women could be fired for weighing in at just 1kg over the limit the airline set, Ms Hansen told the LA Times.
They even had to wear high heels and a dress just to pick up their paychecks.
According to Vanity Fair, stewardesses in the "glamour era of travel" could not weight more than 140 pounds (64kg), could not be shorter than five feet two inches (157cm) or taller than five feet nine inches (175cm), and had to agree to retire by the age of 32.
"What they really were was bait, corporate geishas trained to please the male passengers who formed the bulk of the airlines' passenger rolls — as much as 80 per cent in the late 60s, by one estimate."
In 1966, a New York Times classified ad for stewardesses at Eastern Airlines listed these requirements: "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 and have at least 20/40 vision without glasses."
In 1967, a United Airlines ad for stewardesses asked "Marriage is fine! But shouldn't you see the world first?"
Not surprisingly, the marketing for the airlines played into this mile-high fantasy.
An old Pan Am radio commercial reportedly asked, "How do you like your stewardesses?", according to Vanity Fair, and in 1971, National Airlines took off with its "I'm Cheryl. Fly me" campaign.
Ms Hansen admitted that being ogled or pinched by male passengers was just part of the job back then.
But still, in a time when a woman's primary role in society was to be a wife and mother, being a stewardess was an escape that many young girls dreamt of.
"There were 1000 applications for every opening," Ms Hansen told the LA Times.
"These women almost to a person were kind of the black sheep of their families," another flight attendants Laurie Power, who flew for Trans World Airlines for 29 years, told Vanity Fair.
"They left because they couldn't stand the drudgery of everyday life, which was marriage or teaching, and washing on Monday and ironing on Tuesday. So life as a stewardess took on a more dramatic, rather more interesting scale."
But by the 1970s, as the women's right movement grew, women were getting tired of the objectification of stewardesses.
The Stewardesses for Women's Rights feminist group was founded in 1972 and around the same time men were added to the cabin crews.
Over time the standards eased and the mandates were lifted, whether through legal wins or changing social ethos in the 70s and 80s.
And by 1988, when PSA was bought by US Airways, stewardesses had become flight attendants.
However, Ms Hansen said there is one big thing she misses about the glamour era of air travel.
"The biggest difference now is back then we were admired. We were respected," she told the LA Times.
"Even though you're wearing those little costumes and the butterfly eyelashes, if you told [passengers] to do something, they did it."
Sonnie Sims, a retired stewardess who began flying for American Airlines in 1962 told Vanity Fair: "People admired us when we walked through the terminal".