Flight attendant – that is the dream job of many young women. Ann Hood lived her dream in the 80’s. She tells of a world full of discrimination and sexism, but also of many exciting experiences.

Even as a child, Ann Hood knew what she wanted to be: a stewardess. In 1978, at the age of 21, she had reached her goal. The US airline Trans World Airlines hired her as a flight attendant immediately after graduating from college. But it soon turned out that the dream job wasn’t as glamorous as it was often portrayed in films and novels. In her recently released memoir, Fly Girl, Hood wrote about what the world of stewardesses was really like in the 1980s.

This story is characterized by sexism, discrimination and sometimes even contempt for human beings – but also by a huge fascination with flying. Air travel was still a special experience back then, and some even wore extra fine clothing for it. The guests were treated royally. That was the priority for Ann Hood and her colleagues: to make the (mostly male) passengers have a pleasant journey and not to upset them at all.

Flight attendants were not allowed to exceed the weight limit

Back then, flight attendants were considered “beautiful and sexy ornaments,” Hood told CNN. Nevertheless, the jobs were extremely popular. In order to get a place, the applicants had to adhere to a weight limit, among other things. A maximum weight was already specified in the job advertisements; anyone who exceeded this was not even invited to an interview. Those who were hired were not allowed to gain weight. She was terrified, Hood reports, weighing more than 60 kilograms. A colleague was fired for gaining too much weight.

In addition, the flight attendants needed knowledge in very different areas: In the course of their training, they learned how to mix cocktails, help with the birth of a child and even turn away advances from pushy male passengers. However, it was not desirable to put a passenger in his place with clear words. Instead, the flight attendants should point out that they have “a friend”. In any case, they should keep their smiles.

The beautiful appearance was decisive

In any case, the good looks were crucial in the business, as Hood remembers. The image of flight attendants that prevailed in public at the time and was conveyed by the airlines was that of a pretty-looking, harmless dumbass. The “blatant sexism” made her “offended and angry,” writes the 65-year-old. However, she herself also got involved in relationships with passengers – she was with a man she had met as a passenger for five years.

In 1986, Ann Hood left the business to focus on a writing career. Since then she has published a number of novels. She recalls some aspects of her time as a flight attendant with a shudder, but still draws a positive overall conclusion: “I enjoyed the job. I like talking to people, I liked the feeling. I still love flying today.” Above all, she was happy to be able to get to know many cities around the world. “Most of the time, the city was right outside the door. I used that a lot on international flights.”

The image of flight attendants in public has changed, at least in part. Ann Hood warns against underestimating the job: “Flight attendants are independent, in the cabin they make the decisions, have to solve problems and be ready in an emergency. They find their way in cities where they know nothing and nobody.” Her time as a young woman gave her self-confidence and taught her to think for herself.

Sources: CNN / “Insider” / “Fly Girl” by Ann Hoo