There was a time when almost every young woman wanted to be a film star or an air hostess, later called stewardess.
Things have changed for the better, virtually every job now being open to women. However, in the years before World War II and immediately after it, the world of air travel demanded that passengers (now called customers) were treated to luxurious service.
Libbie Escolme-Schmidt OAM, who flew as a stewardess for British Airways, has compiled a wonderful record of nostalgia for those “golden days” of air travel. Her book is filled with anecdotes, cartoons and memory-provoking photographs of young women in glamourous uniforms as well as short dresses, depending on the fashion.
Of course, it was not all glamour. The training was and retains high priority, calmness in emergencies, politeness in the face of rudeness, efficiency amid passenger chaos. These qualities, more often than not, are the real memories a passenger takes from the flight.
Libbie was intrigued, as a Brisbane student, by the elegance of a TAA hostess who lived nearby. Later, after her own experiences and several degrees and careers later, she decided to pay tribute to the “trolley dollies”, many of whom moved on to other exciting careers.
This is a well-researched book with a light touch. It has a comprehensive index, several appendices covering air disasters and airline chronology.
Air hostesses, now “cabin crew”, were and are an essential element in the wellbeing of passengers. Libbie Escolme-Schmidt has done them a service by recalling an important part of their history and contribution to flying.