Flight Attendant vs Stewardess: What’s the Difference?

Are you one of those people who wonder about the difference between a flight attendant and a stewardess?

Well, you can take it easy now: “flight attendant” and “stewardess” refer to the same profession. So why do we have two different names for the same job? Isn’t that confusing?



During the early days of commercial passenger flights–way back in the 1950’s–the name “stewardess” took on a negative meaning. The women who worked as stewardesses were seen as little more than just “models in the sky”–whose work was little more than to look good for the (male) passengers.
This sexist notion was not true, of course, and later in the 1960’s and 1970’s the aviation industry pushed to remove the gender bias of the job. They changed the name to “flight attendant” to refer to both male and female cabin crews.  They also made the qualifications more specific when it comes to customer relations.


Qualification and responsibilities

Before the 1950s, a  “stewardess” must be a registered nurse, or had attended 2 years in college. The candidate must also possess the following traits: female, white, ages between 21 to 26, 5’2” to 5’6” tall and weigh no more than 135 pounds, and single (never been married, divorced, or widowed).

Right after “stewardess” was replaced by the term “flight attendants”, the qualification was also changed appropriately. Now, the flight attendant candidate must be at least 18 years old. Candidates must have finished any of these college degrees: hospitality, tourism, communications, or public relations. They must also pass a physical exam, be tall enough to reach the overhead cabins, and must have a weight that’s proportional to his or her height. Fluency in a foreign language is also a big factor for international positions.

Whether referred to as a stewardess or a flight attendant, such a person has the same responsibilities: assist the passengers to make them feel safe and accommodated; explain safety procedures on the plane; and teaching passengers about emergency and evacuation procedures.


At the end of the day, whether members of the cabin crew are referred to as stewardesses, stewards, or flight attendants, they all play very important roles to keep passengers comfortable, safe, and ready to enjoy the flight.

If you dream of becoming a flight attendant yourself, then visit to learn how you can succeed in the aviation industry.


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