Do you ever wonder what it would be like to have had a 30+ year career with the airlines? I know people who are currently working in the airline industry, but I’ve never had the chance to really sit down and talk to an airline veteran of so many years… until the other day. I was on one of my walks in Coronado making notes for my Coronado / San Diego series when I struck up a conversation with a woman who was also taking a walk. I figured she was a Coronado local, which she was, but I came to find out she was also retired from a 30+ year career with the airlines. So later that week, over coffee and scones at Tartines, I talked with Janet. I figured if I was intrigued by the changes she’d seen in all those years, and her other impressions of the airline industry, as well as any places she’d been and enjoyed, you might want to eavesdrop on our conversation and hear what I learned from Janet.
I’ve always wondered how people got started when they work for the airlines for so many years. Janet had one of those I-guess-it-was-meant-to-be stories. In her early 20s, she and a girlfriend came out to San Diego from the east coast. No job. No plans. They stayed with a friend and, one day, a neighbor came by. Naturally, he asked Janet what she would do for work, and when she said she had no idea, he said he worked for the airlines, they were hiring, and she should come by and see about getting a job.
That was the summer of 1968 and the airline was PSA! Pacific Southwest Airlines was the first large discount airline and billed itself as the “World’s Friendliest Airline”. Maybe you remember PSA, I sure do! At first, they only flew intra-state in California. So imagine a lot of up and down and up and down in one day kind of flights. Janet mentioned that this was great for the women crew because they could be home with their kids every night.
Another interesting fact she mentioned was that one of the reasons the PSA crews were so young was because they could hire 18 year olds. PSA didn’t cross state lines. They did, however, serve small bottles of alcohol, but didn’t open them for you. The bigger airline carriers did serve alcohol, so they couldn’t hire anyone younger than 21! The crews were young and fun, and Janet told me they still have PSA get togethers and parties :)
PSA Pacific Southwest Airlines flight attendants. Image source: http://www.psa-history.org/sights_and_sounds/stewardesses