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Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Nicki Minaj took my seat in business class, plus a visit with Flight Girl Daniela!

Okay, so where am I?

I'm down on the ground once again. And not a second too soon because flying coach is a special trip to hell. I have to tell you that years of flying business and first class has spoiled me to the point where I need my mimosa before taking off or the whole experience is a bust.

Guess who was the loudest a-hole on my flight?
My flight featured a guy who insisted on being overly loud and half-naked, a twentysomething reading the latest issue of Guns & Ammo (always refreshing in a post-9/11 apocalypse), a psychic in the back of the plane doing some seance with her entourage in the back of the plane, candy bar lunches, and (rumor has it) Nicki Minaj in my business class seat.

Apparently Ms. Minaj took a break from her various Twitter scorned earth campaigns to harass a couple of the first class flight attendants. The stories of her belittling behavior floated back to the cheap seats pretty fast with reports of her ordering vodka cranberries at warp speed and once the flight attendant delivered the drink, she would take a single sip and demand another. She wasn't alone, as her entire crew did the same thing until all of the mini bottles were gone.

Yeah, uh, you stay classy San Diego!

This story prompted a long overdue visit with one of my best buddies: Flight Girl Daniela. I know what you are thinking, "Flight Girl"?, why in the world would I call her that? You I know she's a flight attendant. However, sorry folks, Daniela doesn't take herself that seriously and actually makes passengers call her Flight Girl. For those of you who don't know, the two columns we teamed on (December 2012's "Flying the Friendly Skies" and April 2014's "Daniela::Deux") are still ranked in the top 10 Media Guy Struggles all-time reads, combining for 200,000+ page views.

We met at a Hollywood deli. She had the matzo ball soup and I had bagel chips with a side of well-done pickles. She arrived in uniform with perfect make-up and a pilot's hat she lifted from her last flight with the promise to return it at her leisure. I asked her about Nicki's action in first class and she said that's normal for a the divas. She reported that even the divas of yesteryear can be a nightmare when the drink orders come in.

"One of the legendary stories they always tell us is about Lucy (Lucille Ball). On flights, no one could not speak to her, even for drink orders -- you had to ask her assistant what Lucy wanted to drink. Another time, one of our sisters in flight accidentally dropped a glass of water on her and Lucy insisted it was okay, but when another glass was delivered, Lucy tossed the contents in her face and screeched, 'How do you like it now?'".

None of all of this bad behavior bothered the flight attendants (aka stewardesses, aka sexy stews) of the 1950s, 60s and 70s more than the way airlines used women and sex to sell air travel. There was even a secret public relations push to glorify the Mile High Club to make being in the air sexier that being on the ground.

"From objectifying women as maps to the promise of someone getting a wife out of their cross-country flight, airlines have long used women to sell tickets'" says Daniela.

With that, we spent lunch talking about fifteen of the most recognizable Triple S ("Sex Sells Seats") ads that appeared in the pages of some of the biggest magazines ever in print:
1. Finnair - Summer Routes Ad (1968). No need for a real map. Use the back of a curvy brunette. Once you get to Finland, you can plan your pleasure route.
2. United Airlines  - The former Miss Butterfingers Ad (1967): The ad reads "...two months ago, Sheri Woodruff couldn't even balance a cup of coffee. But she was friendly, intelligent, and attractive..." I am so glad she was at least attractive!
3. United Airlines - Old Maid ad (1967). They called her an old maid because she's been flying for almost three years! None of that matters because "...everyone gets warmth, friendliness and extra care. And someone may get a wife..." Wow, coffee, tea or a wife! Sheesh!
4. PSA Airlines - Famous Stewardesses Radio ad (1969). Imagine hearing this on the radio today: 
“Right now PSA, the airline that is famous for its stewardesses, is looking for girls. Yes..girls to fill a cute orange mini-uniform…girls who smile and mean it…girls who give other people a lift. Now if you’re single, 18 1/2 to 26 years old, 5 foot 1 to 5 foot 9, 105 to 135 pounds, have a high school diploma or better–come in for an interview at the Los Angeles International Airport stewardesses department Tuesday or Thursday. PSA is an Equal Opportunity Employer” 
Yeah, uh, equal opportunity except the age, sex, height, weight, and marital status parts!
5. United Airlines - The Glamorous Life ad (1966). How great is it that that evolved from the specs of the original stewardess?: "Registered nurse, not over 25 years of age, weighing 115 lbs. or less, not over five feet four inches tall." The consolation is at least they edited out "bride ready' in the final copy.
6. American Airlines - Beautiful Girls (1967). I mean thank the heavens for American Airlines because they couldn't possibly '...afford the sweet young thing who just stands there...' and we were so much better for it.
7. United Airlines - Come Back Soon ad (1966): Only on United...a special brand of work prostitution: "You went to sleep after dinner. Why not? You work hard. When the flight landed, the stewardess smiled goodbye like she really meant it. She does. She even straightened your boutonniere. You get this kind of 'extra care' every time you fly with us." What else do you get?
8. TWA - It’s A Man’s World ad (1953). The only airline ad we could find that didn't devalue women and refused to trade on a woman's body and racial profile as the core checklist in their advertising campaigns.
9. TWA - Foreign Accents ad (1968). It's a shame the TWA ads of the late 1960s couldn't mimic their predecessors from the 1950s. Really, how great would it be to select one of your four hostesses on TWA?: "...they come in four styles with hostesses to match: Italian (see toga), French (see gold mini), Olde English (see wench). And Manhattan penthouse (see hostess pajamas—after all all hostesses should look like this, right?)" Toga? Wench? This is about as low as it gets."

  10. British Overseas Airways Corporation - She's an Art in Herself ad (1965). She's a renaissance woman. She can do it all, just take their word for it: "Whether she's decorating a house, or cooking Moo Goo Gai Pen, the result is always beautiful. If Lancy's aboard your next BOAC flight to the Orient, watch every move closely. She's an art in herself."

11. Japan Airlines - How to Train and Airline Hostess (1959). This ad could also be called How to Train Your Future Foreign Wife...take a read: "A Japanese girl is taught from childhood the satisfaction of doing something for its own sake....You feel her real desire to please you, and only you. For she satisfies herself only as she succeeds in making you happy."
12. American Airlines - Conrad Hilton ad (1966). American somehow tried to justify that women are just products with this stellar copy: "Flying just isn't much of a thrill for Mr. Hilton anymore. He expects attention for his money."

13. Delta - One Girl ad (1967). The Me Decade was thirteen years ahead of us, but Delta still found a way to make it all about you: "Only one girl is important. The one on your flight. The one who serves you."

14. British Overseas Airways Corporation - all her Suki ad (1964). Isn't it great she is more thank just beautiful? After all, she "can serve you sake, sushi, and teriyaki steak with ancestral grace."

15. Air France - Beautiful French Hostess (1967). Hook 'em with the beautiful French hostess, devalue them in very next sentence of copy and then on with the sales pitch..."Beautiful French girls alone do not make Air France, Air France."

Part 2:
Read part one of Daniela and Michael here.

Part 3:
Read part three of Daniela and Michael here.