On the legal, economic, cultural and political issues of hot versus frumpy air hostesses.
Blogger Glen Whitman wonders about the decline in 'hotness' of airline stewardesses on American airlines, putting the change from young and hot until about the 1970's to older and plainer nowadays down to deregulation; in the past airlines largely couldn't compete for passengers on price, as prices were centrally fixed, but instead had to differentiate themselves by quality of service, food... and the attractiveness of their hostesses.
After deregulation in 1978 however, when prices were competitively slashed, American airlines found that
as much as male customers might have enjoyed the eye candy, they weren't willing to pay for it. More attractive staff can command higher wages. The airlines could have continued to pay them, if the higher quality had attracted more customers. But as it turns out, most people just wanted to get where they were going, fast and cheap.
In response, Megan McArdle, senior editor for 'The Atlantic', says that the deregulation argument is all at sea, that in fact the change in appearance standards is down to
a combination of feminist shaming, union demands, and anti-discrimination laws
Where airlines once required that female staff be single, slim, childless, and not much over 30, they are now unable to rid themselves of hostesses who no longer meet these standards, and essentially are bound to employ hostesses for life.
In Indonesia, as in most of the wild east of Asia as anyone killing time wandering around Changi airport in Singapore will recount, things are different, unions, feminist harridans, and anti discrimination laws are weak or non-existent, and flight stewardesses still score pretty highly on the hotness scale, with the possible exception of the national carrier Garuda.
To end, a gallery of Indonesian flight hostesses: