Monday, July 3, 2017

Chicago's United Airlines introduced the world's first stewardess service on flights between Chicago and San Francisco.

This Boeing 80, is flying over the Streeterville neighborhood in the Near North Side community of Chicago. (circa 1928)
The first Model 80 was delivered to Boeing Air Transport (BAT) in August of 1928 and was immediately put into service on the San Francisco to Chicago C.A.M. 18 route. 
The pilot and co-pilot sat in a separate forward cabin and were kept informed of changing weather conditions by two-way radio. The Model 80, which accommodated 12 passengers in a heated cabin had hot and cold running water, individual passenger reading lamps and leather upholstered seats, was soon redesigned to carry 18 passengers and designated the Model 80A. The 80A was powered with three 525 hp Pratt & Whitney “Hornet” engines with a cruising speed of 125 mph and a range of 460 miles. The gross weight was 17,500 pounds.

In the late 1920s and early 1930s, airline passenger travel was primarily the realm of Business people, the Rich and the Adventurous. The average person preferred to travel by train, boat or by private automobile.

An airline passenger paid up to $900 (one-way) to fly across the United States and upon arrival often found it necessary to transfer to a train or automobile to reach their final destination. There were few airports and were often located in relatively remote areas. Worst of all, the airplane cabins lacked sound-proofing.  In addition to the unsettling noise, vibration was also a problem, one passenger stated that his glasses kept sliding down his nose the entire flight.
Interior of the Boeing 80. (circa 1928)
United Airlines introduced the world's first stewardess service on flights between Chicago and San Francisco. The first female flight attendant was a 25-year-old registered nurse named Ellen Church. Hired in 1930, she also first envisioned nurses on aircrafts. Other airlines followed suit, hiring nurses to serve as flight attendants, then called "stewardesses" or "air hostesses" on most of their flights.

Compiled by Neil Gale, Ph.D. 

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