Air France began hiring its first air hostesses at the beginning of 1946. Following an interview at Le Bourget airport, eleven of them were selected.
The conditions for hiring were detailed in the press – have a kindly face, nice personality and be well groomed and have a certain class, be aged between 21 and 30, have a minimum height of 1.55 metres and a maximum height of 1.70 metres, a waste measurement above 70 centimetres would be fatal. The other pre-requisites were to have obtained one’s high school diploma, speak fluent English, and be single without children. More than 600 applications flooded in in a matter of a few days. Applicants included young women from affluent backgrounds along with former IPSA (flying nurses in the air force during the war) and even a heroin from the résistance movement, Alix d’Unionville. They carried out their first flights in austere uniforms, with the memories of wartime still very much on people’s minds. Their presence gradually became more familiar, especially as there was no limitation on the number of hours they worked, following travellers from the start to the end of a rotation; three and a half days for a flight to and from Paris and Mauritius! A new Air France profession came into being, currently performed by thousands of women around the world. Women have also marked the history of Air France!