Now and Then - A Brief History of Flight Attendants

OSM Aviation

In honor of Aviation History Month, we wanted to highlight the timeline of the Flight Attendant position and how it has evolved through the years to the attractive career choice that it is today!
The history of the flight attendant began as soon as passenger air travel started in the early 1920´s. Typically they were sons of businessmen who had financed the airlines and were called couriers.

Couriers worked up to the crash of the stock market in the mid 1920’s. With the couriers no longer employed, the responsibility of seeing to the needs of passengers rested with the copilot.

The copilot was required to assist the pilot in command as well as serve food and drinks to the passengers. With the improvement in passenger air travel the airlines began to reassess the responsibilities of seeing to passenger needs. In the early 1930’s the first stewards who were hired were male helpers.

They were responsible for seeing to the passenger needs, such as helping passengers aboard the aircraft, assisting with the luggage, serving refreshments and assuring that passengers put their cigars and cigarettes out.

By the late 1930’s, United Airlines, being the first, had hired stewardess, female helpers. These stewardesses were registered nurses and the idea was that the passengers would feel much safer in the hands of the stewardess. Their responsibilities included attending to those who became air sick. and handing out snacks to the passengers. Upon World War II the nurses left the airlines and joined the military. The airlines then hired young women to take over.

By now the name of the stewardess had changed to reflect both genders and are now called flight attendants.


Aviation is a fast paced, continuous growing and always changing industry. Now flight attendants, are specially trained in safety and security since the passenger’s safety is their main concern among other responsibilities and duties such as:

  • Guide and assist for safety and comfort to passengers
  • Always conduct safety check before flight
  • Greet and communicate with customers
  • Help passengers find their seats
  • Prepare and serve drinks and food
  • Present and give instructions to passengers on how to use emergency equipment
  • Monitor, manage and secure the cabin
  • Adhere to all aviation rules and regulations
  • Assist passengers and cabin crew during emergency situations
  • Provide help to passengers with special needs (children, disabled persons, elders)
  • Prepare and submit reports on flight incidents

The requirements of becoming a flight attendant may vary from airline to airline, but in general you must:

  • Have the right to work in the country for the position you are applying for. We are not able to offer sponsorship opportunities.
  • Be able to provide a clean Criminal Record Check for all countries you have lived in for over 6 months in the past 5 years.
  • Be able to pass an aviation medical examination.
  • Be able to provide employment and education reference document’s covering the past 5 years.
  • Have good swimming skills.
  • Be at least 160cm tall (5 ft. 3 inches).
  • Be at least 20 years old, however some airlines also have 18 years as an age limit, this will be stated in the specific advertisement.
  • To be fluent in English and sometimes the native language of the base to which you apply.
  • To live within 90 minutes commute of your chosen base.
  • No visible tattoos or piercings that can’t be covered discreetly.

    If you believe that this is the right step in your career, we invite you to apply for one of our Cabin Crew vacancies here!

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Do you want to know more about careers within cabin crew? Read more about Cabin Crew Careers at OSM Aviation.

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