Saturday, September 08, 2007

Sex sells seats, Southwest Airlines used to say

Sex used to sell seats. Now being sexy gets you kicked out of your seat.

Kyla Ebbert was hassled recently as she boarded a Southwest Airlines flight because a prudish stewardess, um, excuse me, a prudish flight attendant decided Kyla's clothing was too "revealing." She was asked to not board the plane, or to "adjust" her clothing.

Oddly, Ms. Ebbert wore the same outfit on the return flight and no one said a word or raised an eyebrow.

At left is a photo of Kyla's attire.

No, wait.

That's not Ms. Ebbert. That's the uniform the self-righteous flight attendant would have had to wear had she been a Southwest Airlines stewardess in the early 1970s. At that time Southwest Airline's internal marketing motto was actually "sex sells seats." The hot pants-clad stewardesses handed out drinks called "Love Potion" and "Passion Punch" while sauntering down the aisles wearing high-heeled go-go boots.

In a 1981 court case, Southwest Airlines attempted to defend its policy of hiring only attractive female flight attendants. Southwest argued that female sex appeal was a bona fide occupational qualification under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act because it wanted to project a "sexy image and fulfill its public promise to take passengers skyward with 'love.'" The Court disagreed and Southwest lost. The Court determined that Southwest was not in a business where "vicarious sex entertainment is the primary service provided."

Image: Southwest Airlines stewardesses circa 1970

Update, Sat. Sept. 8: Here's a Southwest Airlines television commercial, circa 1972. My thanks to an alert reader for unearthing this video.

| | | | | |


  1. Did the Taliban or Saudi Arabia buy Southwest Airlines or something?

  2. My daughters--ages 15 and 16--wear outfits like that of the passenger (but not as skimpy as the original Southwest uniform). I don't have a problem either.

    If you've got it, flaunt it.

    Fraternally yours,
    The Libertarian


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.