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The Canadian Union of Public Employees is celebrating International Flight Attendant Day today, May 31st, and inviting flight attendants around the globe to look back at how far the profession has come.

It’s astonishing to recall that, in 1938, to become a “stewardess” on Trans-Canada Airlines, you had to be a nurse, aged 21 to 25, female, single, no taller than 5’5”, under 125 pounds, and in good health with a personable manner and good vision.

Since that era of restrictive hiring requirements, we’ve seen sweeping changes. Men were eventually given the opportunity to join our ranks. We’ve gained the right to maternity benefits, parental benefits, health and dental benefits, and the implementation of health and safety legislation and workers’ compensation.

As a union, CUPE continues to fight to ensure that our members are treated fairly and with dignity and respect. The commitment, dedication, and unmatched experience and wisdom of all flight attendants must be appreciated and valued.

Flight attendants still have a lot of work to do. Our ever-changing world has created new challenges, which include longer flights, disruptive passengers, negative health effects, and evolving security risks – to name just a few.

We also face continued pressure from employers to work harder, with fewer resources.

But with dedication and fortitude, we will continue to work to make the lives of flight attendants better and safer.

CUPE is Canada’s flight attendant union, representing over 15,000 flight attendants working at ten airlines across Canada.