“In this male-dominated world, in that famously openly chauvinistic culture, these women were really taking the reins and running their lives in a way most women didn’t,” Christina Ricci said in an interview with The Hollywood Reporter about her upcoming television show, Pan Am, a night time soap opera revolving around the lives of flight attendants and pilots in the 1960’s. Think Mad Men at 30,000 feet.
Christina Ricci has been cast to play Maggie, a head stewardess. What’s funny about this is Ricci wouldn’t have been hired to be a stewardess back in the day. At five foot one, Christina is too short. Pan Am required its stewardesses to be at least five foot two and weigh no more than 130 pounds. They also couldn’t be married or have children. On top of that the mandatory retirement age for flight attendants was 32. So even if Ricci had managed to squeak by Pan Am’s minimum height requirement, she wouldn’t have flown for long. The actress, born in February, is already 31 years old. With Pan Am scheduled to air in September, Christina only has five months to travel the world before being forced to hang up the uniform and retire. That’s not enough time to establish oneself as a head stewardess for a major airline. At my airline it takes six months just to get off probation! But back in the 60’s stewardesses averaged eighteen months on the job. A year and a half. By those standards, Christina Ricci would already be three-quarters of the way through with her career. Sad, but true.
Thankfully a lot has changed since 1960…
HEIGHT: Today US airlines have height requirements for safety reasons only. Flight attendants must be tall enough to reach overhead safety equipment. Typically flight attendants range between five foot three to six foot one. There may be a lower height restriction at some regional airlines where the aircraft type operated has a maximum height allowance of 5’10”.
WEIGHT: In 1990 all US airlines dropped weight requirements for flight attendants. The only requirement today is that weight must be in proportion to height. If a flight attendant can not sit in the jump seat without an extended seat belt or fit through the emergency exit window, they can not fly.
AGE: Most airlines have a minimum age requirement, usually between 18 and 21 years old. There is no maximum age limit. As long as a flight attendant can pass their yearly recurrent training, and does not have any health or physical problems that would prevent them from flying, they can continue to work for as long as they like.
NOTE: Foreign carriers still follow strict height, weight, and age requirements.
Photo courtesy of ABC