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Former TWA flight attendants reveal what they do and don't miss about the 'golden age' of flying

The 1950s and 1960s are often perceived as the golden age of air travel. But is the reputation deserved?


Here two former flight attendants who worked in the skies in the mid-to-late 20th century reveal the things they do – and don't - miss about this chapter of aviation, as well as outlining where they feel that contemporary airlines are going wrong.


Kathy Kompare and Stephanie Johnson each spent more than two decades working as cabin crew for U.S carrier Trans World Airlines (TWA), which they say was known as the 'epitome of sophistication' in the airline industry in its heyday.


Speaking to MailOnline Travel, they reveal that 'service with a smile' is one of the features of these so-called 'glamour' years that they miss in contemporary air travel.


They also look back fondly on the 'wonderful food, replete with caviar and all the sides for it' and 'Chateaubriand [a beef dish] and rack of lamb cooked to order'.


Kompare and Johnson similarly reminisce over how the crew could avail of limo transfers to the plane, were put up in five-star hotels with room service and 'beautiful pools' during layovers - and got their hair done in the luxury department store Harrods whilst in London.


There are plenty of vintage features that airlines ought to bring back for contemporary cabin crew, they believe, such as 'quality' uniforms; 'beautiful' food services; 'graciousness of service'; 'smiling flight attendants'; more leg room ('more comfort for passengers would calm everyone down') and larger seats.


Another habit they feel ought to be revived? 'Knowing and using names in first class,' they reveal.


Detailing where they believe modern airlines go wrong, they say that one issue is 'not stressing to their front-line employees that they are still in a business to provide customer service in a professional and pleasant way'.


The pair - who recently published a book about their time in the skies, True Tales of TWA Flight Attendants - explain: 'Small acts of kindness are remembered by customers. And your passengers are your customers!'


When asked what modern-day flight attendants could learn from TWA flight attendants of yesteryear, Kompare and Johnson say: 'Professional attitudes, manners and actually how to have fun with your passengers.'


However, there are also certain traits in 21st-century flight attendants that the authors admire. They say: 'Southwest Airlines in the States has lots of comedians! Their PA announcements are clever.'


Which airlines get it right? According to the authors, Singapore Airlines, Japan Airlines and Qatar Airways top the podium thanks to the standard of their customer service.

But when it comes to glamour, Kompare and Johnson feel that Emirates trumps its rival airlines in this day and age.


Nostalgia aside, there's plenty from the 'glamour' years of aviation that Kompare and Johnson are glad to see the back of.


One major downside were the 'grooming' rules that flight attendants were required to adhere to, which included wearing a girdle, only wearing a certain shade of lipstick and ensuring that fingernails were polished.


There were also strict rules they had to stick to when it came to the length and colour of their hair.


Undergoing weight checks was another factor - Kompare and Johnson reveal they were expected to be 'fit not fat', with this attitude leading to three flight attendants getting sent home from TWA training for weighing a quarter of a pound over the weight limit.


When it came to jewellery, there was an unyielding limit on the number of rings flight attendants could wear and they were only allowed to wear one necklace.


And something they look back on with disbelief? It's the fact that flight attendants were required to pick up rubbish from passengers on silver trays, they reveal.


True Tales of TWA Flight Attendants: Memoirs and Memories from the Golden Age of Flying by Kathy Kompare and Stephanie Johnson and published by Telemachus Press is on sale now for £13.


This article originally appeared on The Mail Online

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