Flight Attendant Anniversary Highlights Evolution of Profession
May 15, 2012
Washington, DC - The Association of Flight Attendants-CWA (AFA) International President Veda Shook made the following statement on the 82nd anniversary of Ellen Church starting our profession as the first Flight Attendant hired on May 15, 1930:
“On May 15, 1930, Ellen Church, a young registered nurse, first suggested the idea of ‘skygirls’ to executives at Boeing airlines and became the world’s first Flight Attendant. Those skygirls, who later would be called Flight Attendants, had to be registered nurses, retire at the age of 32, remain single and adhere to a strict set of limitations regarding weight and appearance.
“Today, over 80 years later, we stand on the shoulders of the profession Ellen Church created. Our occupation has evolved into a valued and respected career. From the glamour girl image to our struggle for equality and recognition of our responsibilities as first responders and safety professionals, the Flight Attendant profession led the charge for advancing equality issues and breaking through the stereotypes traditionally attached to the definition of femininity. The history of the Flight Attendant profession is dynamic, colorful and compelling.
“Just as Ellen Church paved the way for the hundreds of thousands of Flight Attendants across the globe who followed in her footsteps, AFA led the charge for the advancement of our profession. AFA has worked to defend Flight Attendants’ interests by adding the voice of Flight Attendants to those of government and industry in the regulatory and legislative processes and by negotiating collective bargaining agreements that improve compensation and working conditions.
“In a demanding industry that presents continuous challenges to the Flight Attendant profession, AFA’s work is far from over. Today we remain focused on improving conditions for Flight Attendants and as we have for over six decades, we will continue to evolve according to the needs of our members."
The Association of Flight Attendants is the world's largest Flight Attendant union. Focused 100 percent on Flight Attendant issues, AFA has been the leader in advancing the Flight Attendant profession for over 65 years. Serving as the voice for Flight Attendants in the workplace, in the aviation industry, in the media and on Capitol Hill, AFA has transformed the Flight Attendant profession by raising wages, benefits and working conditions. Nearly 60,000 Flight Attendants at 21 airlines come together to form AFA, part of the 700,000-memberstrong Communications Workers of America (CWA), AFL-CIO. Visit us at www.afacwa.org.