United Airlines Celebrates Eight Decades of Flight Attendants


A group of United flight attendants in the 1940s



Flight attendants in the 1930s

The rough economy has enabled some airlines in recent years to make cutbacks in capacity, free meals and even in-flight movies. It's been unpleasant, indeed, but can you imagine how horrific flying would be if any airline were to ever remove flight attendants from the mix? With that in mind, we'd like to take amount to say a big thank you to flight attendents (formerly known as stewardesses) from all airlines for their service, as United Airlines prepares a special event to recognize the profession.

On May 15, 1930, United’s first flight attendants, led by registered nurse Ellen Church, took their initial flight on a Boeing 80A from Oakland/San Francisco to Chicago, making a 20-hour journey with 13 stops and 14 passengers while cruising at 125 mph. To commemorate the 80th anniversary, United is honoring that historic flight on May 15. This year, a Boeing 767 will make a four-hour nonstop journey with nearly 240 customers and cruising at approximately 530 mph.

“United’s flight attendants are proud professionals who for generations have cared for our customers’ safety and comfort,” says Alexandria Marren, senior vice president of onboard service, who will be on the May 15 flight. “Our flight attendants deliver a safe, pleasant travel experience for millions of customers every year, and we want to take the time to thank those who have proudly earned their United wings.”  

On this honorary flight, United flight attendants will be invited to wear vintage uniforms that represent different eras of flight and provide a timeline of glamour and style leading up to 2011, when all United customer-facing employees will dress in new uniforms created by fashion designer Cynthia Rowley. With United’s ongoing investments in improving the customer experience, including the new aircraft order, upgrades to the international premium cabins and other customer-friendly travel options, our flight attendants will continue to offer United’s finest experience well into the future.


United flight attendants in the 1960s

Kim McClellan, based in Washington Dulles and a United flight attendant since 1991, says, “I am proud to wear my United wings that represent our profession and the great service we provide our customers.”

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