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Gallery: Flight attendant sex and style through the decades
New book shows changes in aviation culture, couture and sexual politics
Where did all the glamor go?
It's a common lament, the passing of the supposed glory days of air travel: when men were Mad Men, women were air hostesses in short, chic uniforms and the latter served the former full four-course meals, complete with proper cutlery and glassware, mid-air.
Now flying -- for those who can't afford first class, anyway -- has been reduced to what Michael O'Leary, boss of Ryanair, proclaims it's always been: getting about in a "big bus with wings."
Just when we were coming to terms with the disillusionment, along comes a book that positively wallows in that better-dressed air travel world of yore.
"Airline: Style at 30,000 feet," by Keith Lovegrove, picks over every aspect of flying culture, from dress through advertising, cuisine and interior design, from early days of commercial flight, in the 1920s, on.
One thing that becomes clear is how sexualized an environment this "parallel universe" in the air, as the book puts it, was -- at least in the long and increasingly liberated decades after World War II.
One shot, among those from the book selected in the gallery above, shows the shorts that Southwest Airlines wedges its stewardesses into in the 1970s.
No doubt some would call that sexualized environment just sexist.
Southwest's male bosses said at the time: "The girls must be able to wear kinky leather boots and hot pants or they don't get the job."
Either way, one of those 1970s flights would be a shock to anyone who's taken a Ryanair flight recently.