Homage To The Stewardess

She is there for our safety. She must be alert at all times. She has to have a ready smile. She must look smart. When she is in uniform, she must have the air of authority—no matter where she is. A fashion icon. Someone who teenage girls (well, some anyway) dream about becoming. Just by entering the word stewardess as a search term, KLM’s historical archive returns more than 1400 photos. Anything else would be unimaginable. She has been “manning” our aircraft, as it were, since 1934. The stewardess—she is the paragon of service and impeccable under all circumstances. Above all, however, she is entirely human. Who is she?

Just to make this entirely clear, we have all conspired to create this inhuman image of a human being. The stewardess’s job is surrounded by glitter and glamour—to this very day. She has an international job and she always looks good. In her sky-blue uniform and dark blue heels, she clicks her way through the departure hall on her way to some faraway place where she visits amazing sites and checks off yet another line on her long list of travel experiences. Over time, we have turned her into an icon alongside the daring pilot, both of whom serve to make flight so unique. A stewardess knows everything and can do anything. People carry the image so far as to ask her which train they should take if they see her on the train platform. When in uniform, she is an authority figure. If she doesn’t know, who does? At least, that’s how we see her.

Stewardess

The face of KLM

In her role as a stewardess, she is the face of KLM—inside and outside her working environment. When she’s not in uniform, we still want to share our experiences with her. People like talking to her at parties. We want to tell her about the luggage we lost, that inedible meal, or that grumpy colleague (of hers), on such-and-such a flight to such-and-such a place. All of this places quite a responsibility on her shoulders. A stewardess is invulnerable and is trained to keep her head, even in the most extreme circumstances. She is approachable but must remain separate—a delicate balance. Sick passengers, drunk passengers, angry passengers, nice passengers, sad passengers—or any combination of the above. Old people, children, people who represent cultures unknown to her—she has an answer to everything and for everyone. In outlook and in deed, sometimes soothing, resolute, and clear—and yet always friendly. Alert and at your service. Practiced, but not routinely, she serves coffee or a hot meal. Smiling but never hollow. After all, she’s a person, not a robot.

Stewardess

Safety

And she is there for our safety. Just prior to takeoff, she checks to see that we all have our seat backs and tray tables in a full upright position and our seatbelts fastened. She shows us the safety instructions. It might seem like no one is watching, yet she performs the duty as if no has ever seen it. Even so, we can all imitate those same instructions. So we must have been watching after all. Ever tried to use the toilet during the landing? That’s not happening. Once again, it’s just not safe. A passenger could very easily fall and hurt himself, and that would be the airline’s responsibility. So it’s her responsibility as well.

Stewardess

The human dimension

In the event of turbulence, she keeps a cool head—and in such a way that we know we can rely on her. Clearly she is aware of that. What is she doing? How does she do that? As far as I can tell, it’s not so much what she’s doing but rather the feeling she conveys. Once upon a time, I had a considerable fear of flying. That came to a head during a pretty awful flight to Zurich involving a fair amount of shake, rattle and roll. I froze. And, all at once, there she was right next to me. “Another beer for you? “Should I? I’d already had one. “Sure! That would taste good right about now. Wouldn’t it?” The human dimension—that was she. She can turn any flight into your flight. And if you consider the idea that there are more than a hundred people sitting in this aircraft… Together with her colleagues—not only stewardesses, but stewards, too—she’s got her hands full. She is the receiving committee when she greets you at the door. She sees to it that we are known, in most cases without knowing our names.

It’s quite a job you’ve got. Stewardess—woman of the world, worldly woman

Posted by: Frido Ogier |
Join the conversation Show comments

Stephen

Hi Frido

Another brilliant blog! Thank you!

I guess Cabin Crew are the face of KLM and when KLM hire crew they are looking for “are they the face of KLM, Do they represent us?”

It must be a hard job, Especially the being in one country then another and not seeing loved ones for a while.

Frido Ogier

Hi Stephen,

Thanks! I suppose that KLM still does. :-) And, yes, I think that one must be quite flexible to be a steward or a stewardess, because of different time zones and sometimes being separated from friends or family. That’s why I also wrote this homage :-)

Best regards and till next time,

Frido

Yvonne Couzijn

O, what a great blog (again), Frido!
I am one of the lucky few for the past 38 years who could call myself a stewardess with KLM.
Or Flight Attendant.
And I feel truly priviliged.
However, it is also an addiction.
Once you start to fly around the world it is (almost) impossible to stop! To be able to see the wonders of the world, and there are so many, with colleagues you don’t know before you start the flight, but get to know within the first hour.
To be able to make so many passengers happy, comfortable, relaxed, less anxious, fed, and most important: safe, to their destinations, is extremely fulfilling.
Never a dull moment, except on very long night-flights, trying to keep your eyes open, because you need to be available and alert.
Sometimes being awake for 26 hours, because of long flights and large time-differences.
But what a reward!
Compliments in gestures, or spoken out loud. In the eyes of someone you helped in an extra kind of way, or even written to the Company and put in your file. It never ceases to amaze me how grateful passengers can be over the littlest of things.
That feeling is also addictive.
And ofcourse, maybe most of all: the “Blue Feeling”.
From the first day until now, being able to say you work for KLM still makes me enormously proud.
I should retire, but I’m not: I’m not done yet! Not by a long shot!

Frido Ogier

Hi Yvonne,

Thanks for your compliment! That’s the spirit :-)

Best regards,

Frido

Joseph B. Cassidy, III

For a long time, I too, wanted to be a flight attendant, and filled out application, after application, after application. And for the same reason most everyone else did, and that was to see the world. But alas, it wasn’t to be. I later found my calling in communications, so I do get to travel the world…at least my voice does, as I serve customers from corporations that have operations in different parts of the world.
Still, it is not the same as actually being able to see all those places in the physical being, and I still wish I could do what others were so fortunate of doing. I commend all those who do the job, for it is not always as dreamy as it would appear. But what an experience. And for those few instances that you read about, that a flight attendant was less then courteous…there are always two sides to every story.
But again…what an experience!!

Martinvg70

Reading these blogs always looking forward to travel to fly. I will fly soon on October 16the to Iran. The atmosphere at the airport but also visiting Aviodome , the museum about Dutch aviation two years ago about these beautiful history is encouraging my passion for airplanes more.

Frido Ogier

Dear Martin,

Nice to read that I can contribute a bit to your positive experience with KLM and the Dutch aviation. :-) Hope to continue!

Kind regards,

Frido

Ria van der Zon

I deeply respect the work of a stewardess and stewards, I fly at least once a year with KLM and also as a companion with my daughter as she is a stewardess for KLM! The work they do is amazing!
This is the reason I’m giving a big applause to the Homage to the stewardesses, keep up the good work!

Frido Ogier

Thanks Ria for your very nice comment. We’ll keep up the good spirit!

Kind regards,

Frido

Jeroenw

Cabin crew is were the difference between KLM and Air France is most apparent

Frits

Don’t want to sound fresh but I know that Anna M. Bon-Muller was a stewardess from 1956 till 1960 and is travelling to-morrow on KL 611, any chance of giving her a ” break “. Thank You and Regards.

Frido Ogier

Dear Frits,

Thant would be nice! I’ve forwarded your request to the right department. Hope they can do something nice for Mrs Bon.

Kind regards,

Frido

Frits

Nothing, too bad, had hoped for some acknowledgment.
Connect with me via my email address if you feel like it.

Frido Ogier

Dear Frits,

I’m sorry that my request didn’t had the result I had hoped for. Still I hope that Mrs Bon has had a pleasant flight.
Kind regards,

Frido

Henk Wiersma.

I have traveled many times with K L M ,it”s a matter of fact my first on was to Canada ,on May 4/5 of 1959to Montreal air port ( DORVAL) my Question to you is ,My brother”s say I went with a SUPER CONSTALATION and I Know I went by a STRETCHED D/C 7 C it was the First NON STOP Amsterdam to Dorval air port ?For my family vacations when our children were young our vacation”s always started at the airport !Last spring May 19/20 I flew with my son to Holland with one of the last flights by the name MARIA MONTESSORIE and we flew back by the sametype of plane called AUDRIE HEPBURN .The Staff was ALWAYS FANTASTIC !My next flight will be in 2016 as far as I know ,So -Long !!

Henk Wiersma.

I have traveled many times with K L M ,it”s a matter of fact my first on was to Canada ,on May 4/5 of 1959to Montreal air port ( DORVAL) my Question to you is ,My brother”s say I went with a SUPER CONSTALATION and I Know I went by a STRETCHED D/C 7 C it was the First NON STOP Amsterdam to Dorval air port ?For my family vacations when our children were young our vacation”s always started at the airport !Last spring May19/20 I flew with my son to Holland with one of the last flights by the name MARIA MONTESSORIE and we flew backon June 06/07 by the sametype of plane called AUDRIE HEPBURN .The Staff was ALWAYS FANTASTIC !My next flight will be in 2016 as far as I know ,So -Long !!

Frido Ogier

Dear Henk,

Thank you for your very enthusiatic comment. I can imagine that your flight with one of our last MD-11’s must be quite an experience. Hope to welcome your on board next year!

Kind regards,

Frido

christinewindsor@yahoo.com

Wow – where are earth did you find those old pictures – very good as they might be I doubt if there are many of your bloggers who still relate to those times (I am 75 years old) and hardly remember the old type uniforms in the picture, but what I do remember is how smart they always looked, and still today the uniform is great – but what I really like about the KLM Hostesses at present is that they are all definately not young,slim and glamourous, on my last two/three flights they was a much more mature group of ladies who were superb and so helpful, I thought it was refreshing to see them on board. So a big round of applause to KLM for keeping those ladies on and not putting them out to pasture for a younger group.

Frido Ogier

Dear Mrs Windsor,

Fortunately KLM still does have a huge archive of historical photo’s. Our collection of negatives on glass is unique in the world. This is one of the reasons why I like to show some to the readers en tell a story about it. And I might say that it all works very well :-) I will certainly convey your compliments!

Kind regards,

Frido Ogier

Frank van der Voet

Frido, like other readers who have already commented, another wonderful blog. Thanks.
What you say is all too true. The connection we have with KLM (or any other airline for that matter) is the cabin crew. From the moment they greet us onboard until the farewell statement upon de-planing, those folks are the FACE of the airline. From the few flights I’ve taken with KLM, KLMers take this role on very well. In this day and age, with so much choice when it comes to flying, the small things exemplified by KLM cabin personnel, is what favorably separates this airline from so many other airlines. I hope that the Company’s Senior Management team recognizes this too.

Frido Ogier

Thanks Frank! Well, what can I say? :-) I totally agree with you of course. One of the distinctive elements nowadays in flying is service and attention, and our cabin staff, the stewards as well of course, although I hardly mentioned them, is quite good at it. Even on a short flight when you can hardly drink your coffee or eat a sandwich. I’ll forward your compliments to the cabin crew division. They will be happy with it.

Best regards,

Frido

Jacqui Dudzik

Klm flight attendants are the best in the world

Frido Ogier

Thanks Jacqui!

piedad

Ser azafata, es una de las. Profesiones más nobles qué existen, nos reconfortan, nos salvan la vida, nos guían, atienden nuestras debilidades con tanto amor, sin perder nunca la calma y su comprensión! ME QUITO EL SOMBRERO! LAS Y LOS ADMIRO MUUUCHO!

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