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June 8, 2022

Presenting the Losers: Eastern Air Lines Advertisement From 1967

Eastern Air Lines began after the merger of several different aviation companies, most of which specialized in air mail delivery. Eastern had a near-monopoly on flights in the lucrative markets from New York to Florida until the 1950s, and subsequently increased its network around the eastern United States.

This advertisement demonstrates the qualifications airlines expected from their flight attendants during this time, and also packages them as part of the onboard experience for male customers, primarily businessmen traveling alone.

Here’s what the ad says:
“Pretty good, aren’t they? We admit it. And they’re probably good enough to get a job practically anywhere they want. But not as an Eastern Airlines stewardess.

We pass up around 19 girls, before we get one that qualifies. If looks were everything, it wouldn’t be so tough. Sure, we want her to be pretty… don’t you? That’s why we look at her face, her make-up, her complexion, her figure, her weight, her legs, her grooming, her nails and her hair.

But we don’t stop there. We talk. And we listen. We listen to her voice, her speech. We judge her personality, her maturity, her intelligence, her intentions, her enthusiasm, her resiliency and her stamina.

We don’t want a stewardess to be impatient with a question you may have, or careless in serving your dinner, or unconcerned about your needs. We try to eliminate these problems by taking a lot more time and passing up a lot more girls.

It may make our job a lot harder. But it makes your flying a lot easier.”
Ironically, the woman front and center at the very bottom of the ad is Ali MacGraw, who was nominated a few years later for an Academy Award for her role in 1970’s Love Story.

Despite lucrative partnerships with companies including Disney, cementing for Eastern a share of the leisure market too, Eastern ran into labor and debt problems and closed in 1991.


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