The Groovy Age of Travel #3: A Time Before the Turbulence

In 1971, the National Organization for Women (NOW) picketed in protest against the airlines calling them "sexist and degrading to women" for their use of stewardesses as sex objects. In particular, they focused on the National Airlines with their "Fly Me" slogan.  The NOW protesters demanded men to be portrayed in the advertising too.

Meanwhile, the girl in the infamous "I'm Cheryl. Fly Me" ad, Cheryl Fioravanti, didn't feel the same way. She had been a stewardess for 22 years, and loved every minute of it. Unfortunately, her response only fueled the fire of the NOW protesters: "I'm afraid I don't agree with the women's liberation very much. I don't think that household chores should be shared. I like to be in the kitchen and I like to have Gene in charge of paying the bills."

Needless to say, the "groovy age of travel" was coming to an end. The use of sexy stewardesses as a way to sell airline tickets had a few more years left, but the clock was now ticking. NOW had found a target, and by mid-decade it was clear that this sort of thing had run its course.  Like it or not, that's how it went down.

But don't think we lost the sexy stewardess all because of NOW - they may have started the fire, but other factors poured on the gasoline. For example, travelers on airplanes by the mid-1970's weren't just males; women and families started to take up a significant portion of the market. The "I'm Cheryl. Fly Me" marketing approach wasn't going to work too well with career women or moms and dads traveling with kids. The sky was not longer an exclusive gentlemen's club - it was now open to everybody.

Another factor was that a lot of these airlines simply were going bankrupt. They suffered from poor labor relations, intransagent management, and high debt burdens.  The ones remaining had to cut costs at almost every level. Thus, the days of cocktails, swank decor, and Halston designed uniforms became ancient history. 

Add to this mess the increase in hi-jacking and crashes, and it became very obvious, airlines could no longer afford to be mile high Playboy Clubs.  They had to be taken seriously.

Thankfully, the pictures and the ads from the groovy age of travel still remain. So, let's take a look at some images of a time before all this "turbulence". Enjoy!

Pacific Southwest Airlines ticket jackets

(Above) Not technically a mini skirt, but close enough...

source: Mike Ward

From the book Stewardess: Come Fly With Me!' by Elisa Stein.

source: Will Kane

source: thomasvrana

Hope you enjoyed it. To coin a phrase from David Spade playing a flight attendant on SNL, "Ba bye, ba bye".


  1. Air travel looks so much more fun back then. :)

  2. This is so extremely--70s. There's no other way to say it!

    Here is a tribute site to the late Pacific Southwest Airlines, possibly the most "grooviest" airline of all time.


  3. I didn't know Mary Richards had a spunky little sister who worked at Air West!

  4. "Does Mohawk Airlines have the best dressed girls in the world?"


  5. I would be a stewardess at PSA for the orange mini and go go boots alone!

  6. AnonymousMay 09, 2010

    I was born too late to have flown PSA, damnit.