In April 1946, Air France welcomed its first eleven stewardesses on board its aircraft. Thanks to them, the company has over the years built a reputation for excellence and flies its aircraft around the world in the highest standards of quality and safety.
Of the 13,500 Air France flight attendants, there are currently more than 8,800 stewardesses. They represent the company worldwide and accompany them throughout their flight with a unique sa-voir-faire, illustrating the art of French-style travel.
Excellent, personalized customer service and designer uniforms – here’s a look back on the highlights of 70 years of stewardesses.
The “housewife” stewardess
In 1938, the first steward appeared at Air France. With longer flights, such as the Paris-New York that could last up to 23 hours and 45 minutes, the company strengthened its workforce by hiring its first stewardesses. But they didn’t have the same tasks. The stewards prepared the meals in the galley and served the passengers, while the stewardesses’ mission was to provide a warm welcome and ensure passengers’ wellbeing. The profession was still at the drawing board stage. Each stewardess improvised her exchanges with passengers, without a microphone or any formal announcements.
Stewardesses’ first uniforms had a very “military” look. The designer Georgette Rénal created the first Air France stewardess uniform in 1946. It had a basic wardrobe: a suit, summer dress and coat. The style was reviewed by Georgette de Trèze five years later, with a more feminine style. In the 1960s, the jet era arrived. Air France asked none other than Christian Dior to design its new “collection”. Then Balenciaga, Jean Patou, Nina Ricci, Carven and Christian Lacroix, since 2005. The greatest couturiers designed “haute couture” uniforms that emphasized the importance of the profession in customer relations.
Cabin crew, becoming more professional
It was not until 1955 that stewards and stewardesses were officially baptized cabin crew. This was official recognition for a profession that was becoming more structured. With the arrival of jets, then wide-bodied aircraft, customer service was redesigned. Teamwork became widespread, with each crew member assigned to an area of the cabin with more highly defined roles and skills. Safety and rescue training enabled them to maintain a high level of skills and knowledge of safety procedures. Simulator training, emergency simulations, first aid and joint exercises with pilots are just a few of the exercises cabin crew carry out on a regular basis.
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