1963 April 17

Forced Retirement at Age 32? Stewardesses Challenge American Airlines Rule


Thirty-five year old Barbara (“Dusty”) Roads, a stewardess for American Airlines (they did not become flight attendants until the 1970s), questioned the company’s policy of forcing stewardesses to retire at age 32. She asked, rhetorically, “Do I look like an old bag?”

For other challenges to airlines policies on women, including successful ones, go to January 20, 1966; March 10, 1973; November 12, 1973.

Learn more about the history of stewardesses at “Clipped Wings”: http://www.clippedwings.com/history/

The old days: A 1936 article described stewardesses: “The girls who qualify for hostesses must be 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.”

Read about the history of stewardesses: Kathleen Barry, Femininity in Flight: A History of Flight Attendants (2007)

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