10 Unspoken Requirements for How Flight Attendants Should Look

2 years ago

Flight attendants appeared on airline flights at the beginning of the 20th century and back then it was only men who could serve in this position. The first female flight attendant was a 25-year-old nurse in 1930 and by 1936 women had almost completely ousted men in this area. The requirements and regulations for girls got stricter year by year and they related not only to their physical condition and competence, but to their appearance as well.

We at Bright Side decided to found out how the rules for flight attendants have changed and what appearance criteria are important today.

The strict norms of the last century

Nelly Diener, the first air stewardess, 1934

50-60 years ago, the requirements for stewardesses were much stricter — they had to control their weight, body shape, and stick to a certain dress code which, in the 1960s-70s, obligated them to wear short tight skirts. One woman who worked during those times said that, earlier, underneath their clothes, flight attendants were made to wear a special garment, which gave her body the proper shape. If a stewardess happened to gain weight, reached the age of 32-35, or got married, she was dismissed.

Today, airlines no longer control their workers’ personal lives and don’t have unusual requirements for them, but still, flight attendants have to look appropriate. Here are the main requirements for flight attendants nowadays.

No need for top models

Contrary to popular belief, a flight attendant doesn’t have to have a model-like physique. The minimum height should be 5 feet 2 inches, and she should be able to reach up to 6 feet 9 inches with an outstretched arm. This is required so that she can put things on upper compartments in a plane and be able to take them down. The weight requirements for a flight attendant depend on their age. Requirements may vary depending on the airline.

Age matters but even elderly women can be flight attendants.

The minimum age for working up in the air is from 18 to 21 years old. The maximum age is normally not mentioned because it will sound like discrimination, however, after 30-32 women, as a rule, start to work as ground staff. But this doesn’t happen with all airlines. For example, the photo above shows American flight attendant, Bette Nash, in 2017. At that moment, she was 81 years old and she was actively working as a flight attendant.

Perfect, unmarked skin

A flight attendant is a company’s face. That’s why she should not have any scars on her face or her visible body parts. The same thing refers to pimples, birthmarks, and tattoos. Having a tattoo on the back or on a thigh is appropriate in most companies, but even a small drawing on an ankle, a wrist, or a neck will pretty much guarantee that you won’t be hired as a flight attendant.

Sharp eyesight is a must.

Flight attendants must have 100% eyesight. Otherwise, they will have to wear contact lenses. As a rule, airlines allow wearing glasses that are designed to meet the company’s image criteria. However, some companies still prefer contact lenses and they will only be allowed to work in glasses if they have a medical contraindication to wear lenses. This medical outlet from contact lenses will work for no longer than 3 months.

Hollywood smile

Flight attendants always smile at passengers and their smiles should be beautiful. Ideally, this employee should have white and straight teeth. Braces are allowed in some air companies, while others won’t tolerate them. The thing that is never welcome on the face is very crooked or missing teeth. Even if a tooth is missing temporarily, it’s likely that the flight attendant won’t be allowed to work until it’s taken care of.

Forget about bright hair

What a flight attendant can do with their hair is often heavily restricted. Airlines have been known to ban styles like cornrows, top-knots, dreadlocks, and Mohawks. Unnatural hair colors, like pink or blue, can often be banned too. Male flight attendants may also have restrictions on how they style their facial hair.

No nail polish in trendy colors

It’s obligatory for flight attendants to have manicures. The length of their nails and their color are determined by the rules of each airline. Normally, it’s a classic manicure also known as a French-style manicure.

Makeup is a must too.

Makeup may be an obligatory thing too. For example, some airlines might require flight attendants wear lipstick or gloss. This is usually expected of female flight attendants and on the flip side, some airlines are known for explicitly barring male flight attendants from wearing makeup.

They should wear heels when at the airport.

The policies of various airlines differ but most of them obligate flight attendants to show up wearing only high heels when in airports. It looks beautiful and presentable, though it’s not very comfortable. When on a flight, women change their shoes for more practical and comfortable ones.

No extra accessories, but it’s necessary to wear a wristwatch.

Only the minimum amount of accessories are allowed: earrings of a reasonable size, a sensible watch, and no more than 2 rings per hand, including the wedding ring. In some cases, there might even be a rule that a flight attendant’s accessories should never clash with their uniform.

What appearance requirements are there at your work? Would you be able to stick to the strict regulations that flight attendants have?

Preview photo credit SDASM Archives / flickr


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One of my mom's old friends said that she got fired from being a flight attendant when she got married (keep in mind this was ~50 years ago). She also said one of her friends who was also a flight attendant had to wear a special girdle to make her look "rounder" in a um, certain area...


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