flight attendants

Fashion for flight attendants yet to fly

eastern uniform snippet

Detail of an Eastern Air Lines flight attendant uniform from the 1970s. Courtesy uniformfreak.com


The group trying to bring back Eastern Air Lines, the iconic Miami-based carrier that operated from the 1920s until 1991, has been filing paperwork, shopping for airplanes and dreaming about what crew members will wear in the aisles.

In January, the Eastern Air Lines Group filed its initial application with the U.S. Department of Transportation and starting putting together operating manuals for submission to the Federation Aviation Administration.

The company, which acquired the old Eastern name and logo in 2009, is now in discussions with major aircraft leasing companies for a fleet of new aircraft.

“We expect to conclude arrangements in the next few weeks,” said Eastern’s president and CEO Edward Wegel.

The airline plans to complete all regulatory requirements by the end of 2014, but the timeline for actually take-off, first as a charter operator and, later, with scheduled service, is up to the FAA and DOT.

While it waits for approvals, Eastern has asked Miami Fashion Week organizers to invite top fashion designers from South Florida to create uniforms for the airline’s modern-day flight attendants.

“The flight attendants will be recruited from the region and the company wants to capture, as much as possible, the look and feel of the Miami/Caribbean/Latin American landscape in the styling of the new uniforms,” read the official contest rules.

Designers have been asked to submit sketches and mood boards for four outfits, plus a design for uniforms that might be worn in 2050. Winning designs will be announced during Miami Fashion Week, which runs May 15-18.

“Previous Eastern Air Lines uniforms used a classic houndstooth print, which I love,” said designer Nikki Poulos , one of the invited contestants.

She created a new houndstooth print as part of her entry.

Houndstooth and Tropical print for Eastern Air Lines by Nikki Poulos

Houndstooth and Tropical print for Eastern Air Lines by Nikki Poulos. Courtesy of the designer and Miami Fashion Week



“Look closely at the print and you will see the Eastern Air Lines logo as the main graphic element,” said Poulos. She also created a tropical print using the airline’s signature colors of navy, turquoise and white – with an added splash of lime green – to capture the South Florida environment.

Unfortunately, given the turbulent nature of the U.S. airline industry, it may be quite a while before the winning Eastern Air Lines uniform gets to fly.

According to an unofficial compilation of airline bankruptcies put together by airline trade group Airlines for America, there have been 196 U.S. airline bankruptcies since 1979, with 49 of those bankruptcies taking place since January 1, 2001.

“You now have four very large airlines – American, Delta, United and Southwest – dominating the industry,” said Joshua Schank, president and CEO of the Eno Center for Transportation, “And the history of failure for start-ups in this industry has caused investors to be wary.”

This past March, for example, Florida Express Jet abruptly canceled planned service it had announced between several Sunshine State cities.

PEOPLExpress, which like Eastern, is trying to create a new airline with an old name, “doesn’t seem to be making a great deal of progress,” said George Hamlin, president of Hamlin Transportation Consulting, “But there are a few notable exceptions, including JetBlue and Virgin America, which took many years to achieve a profit,” he said.

Eastern still has name recognition and nostalgia for the ‘good old days’ of flying on its side.

“It was one of the largest airlines in the world and retains good brand equity as it was the largest airline to fly to Latin America and the Caribbean and also operated the famous Eastern Shuttle between New York, Boston and Washington,” notes Eastern’s Wegel.

But that may not be enough.

“The chance of any airline startup working out is now well under 50 percent,” said Schank, “The chances of reviving an old brand are even worse.”

(A different version of my story about Eastern Air Lines first appeared on NBC News Travel.)

At SFO: Flight Attendant Celebration Day

Flight Attendant Uniforms

If you’re passing through San Francisco International Airport on Tuesday, August 20, 2013, be sure to stop by the Louis A Turpen Aviation Museum in the International Terminal for Flight Attendant Celebration Day, beginning at 10 a.m.

The SFO Museum exhibition United We Stand: Female Flight Attendant Uniforms of United Airlines is there and the schedule of events includes talks, short subject films and commemorative speeches.

United We StandFemale Flight Attendant Uniforms of United Airlines

The Flight Attendant Celebration Day events are free and there will be complimentary refreshments. They’ll even validate your parking.

Flight Attendant Celebration Day at SFO Airport

United We StandFemale Flight Attendant Uniforms of United Airlines

United Air Lines stewardess uniform 1957–1958, courtesy SFO Museum

If you happen to be at San Francisco International Airport on August 20th, 2013, make your way over to the library at the Louis Turpen Aviation Museum in the International Terminal for Flight Attendant Celebration Day.

The event will run from 10 am until 3 pm and celebrate the history of flight attendants with talks, short subject films and commemorations, along with complimentary refreshments and free validated parking.

Here’s a link to the scheduled events of the day.

Even if you can’t be on hand for Flight Attendant Celebration Day on August 20th, be sure to stop by the museum to see the current exhibition United We Stand: Female Flight Attendant Uniforms of United Airlines, which will be there through the end of September 2013.

SFO Museum displays vintage United Airlines uniforms

The SFO Museum at San Francisco International Airport is currently displaying eighteen United Airlines flight attendant uniforms, some of them dating back to the 1930s.

United We Stand Female Flight Attendant Uniforms of United Airlines

United Airlines stewardess uniform – with cape. 1930-1932. Courtesy SFO Museum

The exhibit is part of a donation of fifty-five flight attendant uniforms given to the SFO Museum by the United Airlines Historical Foundation and which represent the full history of the airline’s company-issued cabin crew attire.

United We Stand Female Flight Attendant Uniforms of United Airlines

Look for the exhibit – United we Stand: Female Flight Attendant Uniforms of United Airlines – through September 15, 2013 at the San Francisco International Airport Louis A. Turpen Aviation Museum in the International Terminal, Departure Level, near the entrant to Boarding Area ‘A.”

United We Stand Female Flight Attendant Uniforms of United Airlines

United Airlines uniforms 1968-1970 – courtesy SFO Museum


There’s no admission to enter the museum, which is open 10 am to 4:30 pm, Sunday through Friday.

Here’s a link to more images from the exhibition.

Flight attendants ask passengers to fight new TSA rules



If you’re traveling through Los Angeles International, Washington National, or Norfolk International airports on Thursday, March 21, you may see groups of flight attendants handing out leaflets.

Members of the Coalition of Flight Attendants Unions and others are asking passengers to join them in calling on members of Congress to support legislation to overturn the new TSA rules that will allow small knives back into airplane cabins. They’ll also be asking passengers to sign a White House petition seeking a roll-back of the new rules. More than 36,000 people have signed the petition so far. 100,000 signatures are needed by April 5th in order to get a response from the White House.

Here’s part of what the leaflet says:

The new rule does not make sense for combating potential terrorist attacks nor the daily disturbances we handle by de-escalating conflicts or asking passengers to help us contain problems. Aircraft cabins are fuller than ever and Flight Attendant staffing has been cut. Introducing knives and other weapons into these situations makes our job harder and everyone in the cabin less safe.

It makes no sense to choose between guarding against a hostile take-over attempt and an explosive device. We need to ensure air travel is secured against all threats to our safety and security.

We believe the millions who travel expect to arrive safely – and it’s our job to ensure it. Join us in opposition to this short-sighted, dangerous change to aviation security.

Whether you agree or disagree with the effort, here’s where the leafleting will be taking place and where you can go to chat about the issue.

On Thursday, March 21:

Washington National Airport (DCA),  Concourse Level Terminals A, B, C from 9 a.m to 11 am.

Los Angeles International Airport (LAX), Outside Departure Level – Terminals 1 and 2, 12:20 pm until 2 pm.

Norfolk International Airport (ORF), Airport Lobby, from 1 pm to 3 pm.

The TSA’s revisions to the prohibited items list are scheduled to go into effect on April 25th. You can read details about the changes in the rules about sharp objects and sporting goods and other items on the TSA website, which has a full list of the items allowed – or not – in carry-on and checked bags.