In the old days, if you wanted to be a flight attendant, you had to be young, single and slim. That’s how things were when Iris Peterson got her start back in 1946. But during her more than 60 years in the airline industry, the world’s #1 Flight Attendant fought to end that kind of discrimination. Now, at age 85, she’s finally retiring.
Most of her work was through the Association of Flight Attendants — the attendants’ workers’ union. In 1953 she became the first official lobbyist for the organization (then called the Air Line Stewards and Stewardesses Association), and she quickly set to work changing policy. Not only did she see the repeal of archaic regulations — such as the one requiring that stewardesses had to leave the job when they got married — but also worked toward increased safety on airplanes, especially when engineers were creating the world’s first jumbo jet.
In fact, many of the things we take for granted on modern airplanes were directly affected by Peterson.
I’m always amazed when I read about people with such a passion and dedication to their careers. I wonder, how many travelers never realized they were flying with an industry legend?