Airlines sure have changed throughout the years, as have their flight attendant requirements. In 1936, a New York Times article described the ideal air hostess as “petite; weight 100 to 118 pounds; height 5 feet to 5 feet 4 inches; age 20 to 26 years. Add to that the rigid physical examination each must undergo four times every year, and you are assured of the bloom that goes with perfect health.”
In 1966, the New York Times once again reported on the ideal “air hostess,” but this time called them “stewardesses” in an ad for Eastern Airlines, saying “A high school graduate, single (widows and divorcees with no children considered), 20 years of age (girls 19 1/2 may apply for future consideration). 5’2″ but no more than 5’9″, weight 105 to 135 in proportion to height and have at least 20/40 vision without glasses.”
Thankfully, times have changed, although there are still some bizarre rules for flight attendants across the various airlines.
1.) BMI Isn’t TMI—It’s Required
While airline regulations have changed significantly since the 1930s, when flight attendants had regular weigh-ins and were required to weigh less than 118 pounds, weight is still a consideration for flight attendants, and body mass index (BMI) standards exist.
Czech Airlines requires its flight attendants to have a BMI between 19 and 24.9. Malaysia Airlines also monitors the BMIs of its cabin crew and requires twice-yearly weigh-ins. Those who fail are told to lose weight and tested monthly to track progress. If flight attendants are unable to shed the excess weight within a “proper timeframe,” they are placed on leave.