They were once called ‘stewardesses’…
I was really upset when the TV show Pan Am was cancelled. It reminded me of my flying days and all those former Pan Am ladies I flew with. They were the “real” flight attendants-smart, beautiful, and classy. I was jealous of all the stories I’ve heard-all the globe-trotting, suitors from different parts of the world, eating and shopping in all the interesting cities. One ex-Pan Am flight attendant I worked with once told me all the stories of her days, how the service back then was so much more elaborate than during my time, and her most famous quote, “We were stewardesses not flight attendants”. I guess the word “stewardess” was so much more classy than “flight attendant.” I wonder why it was even changed when the stewardesses back then preferred to be called stewardess!
I actually hated the job in the beginning. I hated all the obnoxious people I met. I hated some of the airhead flight attendants I flew with. Most of all I hated the short layovers, and long trips I did. But now, when I look back, it was actually the best job any twenty-something girl could ever have. And why not? I worked two or three days a week, layover in the best hotels, and had free passes (well, almost) to any destination in the world! My first vacation as a flight attendant was to Paris. I brought my mom with me and we stayed at my uncle’s house. It was my first time to Europe and I fell in love with the whole continent!
I realized then that my job let me experience and see the world in a way that no one else would have. One of the many perks of the job was flying to any city I desired any day. I once packed my bags to visit Tel Aviv, Israel without any planning. I met a person who lived there so I knew I had a place to stay and there I was! Keith, (my then boyfriend who is now my hubby), had a business trip to Munich during Octoberfest and since I had a few days off I met him there. In one of their business dinners, Keith brought me along and I met Jacob there who had a flat in Tel Aviv. He invited us to visit him but of course Keith, having a “normal” job, just couldn’t take off anytime he wished. I had that privilege and I’m glad I took advantage of it. I also vacationed with my parents all over Europe in two occasions and for me, it was pure joy to be able to do that for them. I visited New York many times just to party or hang out with my cousin and her friends. By my third year flying, the job had definitely opened my eyes to so much that the world had to offer– learning different cultures, tasting different foods, and meeting so many interesting people. By then, all the benefits of the job had outweighed the bad.
I quit flying when Keith and I got married. But before that, we both flew to Italy for our honeymoon. By the way, one of the many perks was flying First Class anywhere in North America, and Business Class around the world (when space was available and back then they were always available!). Then we moved to Tokyo where Keith was sent by his company as the liaison between Japan (and most of Asia) and the Americas. I don’t think I ever regretted quitting because we were living in a different country and just like my job, it was also an adventure. My life in Tokyo was a whole different story to tell.