Joan Murphy was one of the airline's first Chief Stewardesses. There are no colour photographs of any of the uniforms for quite some time in our time line. It seems that this uniform was worn by all stewardesses (Dan Air did not employ male stewards until the 1980s) The colour we are told was Navy Blue. The shirt was white cotton and the look was complemented by white gloves and black shoes.
The Dan Air magazine from 1983 celebrating thirty years of flying had a montage sketch of Dan Air aircraft and staff. The picture shows stewardesses in the pale blue summer dresses with slightly darker hats. If this is true, this outfit lasted well into the 1960s.
Above is a picture of Miss. Elizabeth Allen who was with Dan-Air from 1958. She was maade chief stewardess in 1962 aged 26. She had studied at Jarrow Grammar School before attending finishing school at the Alliance Francais and the Sorbonne. When she took on the job she had 3,000 flying hours to her credit. She lived in Kensington.
Jean Broadhurst in 1965
The 1967/68 uniform was still in charcoal blue. The only feature that had been changed it. seems was the hat.
1970 saw the intorduction of a brand new uniform. The airline had decided to have a look unique to it's girls. We are not sure of the designer, but names put forward have been Mary Quant and Mansfield. This uniform was popular as it was very fashionable. Perhaps it was too fashionable as by the time it was replaced just three years later it had become out of style. The hat may appear to look black, but was in fact a dark blue.
When the 1974 uniform was presented, it was saw the company revert to blue as the main colour. This time it was described as "French Blue" It can be seen above, worn by Airleen Levis. On first appraisal it could be seen as a classic design. However, of all the comments we have had - this uniform is the one that is constantly derided. Chceck out these comments!
- "The white neck tie that we had
to wear when the aircraft was on the ground was a nightmare. When you
opened the door it flew in your face. As it did outside at the first
hint of a breeze."
- "Oh I hated
that blouse. It was such a funny material. If you were in a hot country
the hotter it got the more sticky the blouse became"
blouse was vile, if you were in the galley the big, flouncy sleeves
were always dropping into something, food, drink, (Wine and Coffee being
- "I hated the skirt,
it was an awkward length. neither a mini nor a knee length, I took mine
up two hemlines and was brought into the office when I was spotted."
whole thing was horrible. I think it was crimpolene. If you were in
Palma in July with that on with your tights as well, it stuck to
everything, it never breathed."
blouse was never out of soak. You couldn't get half of the stains out
of the arms, and there were many - it always dipped into things - We got
dry cleaning tokens for our suits but had to do the blouses ourselves. I
don't know if people officially complained, but I don't know of anyone
who liked it."
- I never liked
any part of it - the sleeves were too baggy, the neck tie flew
everywhere, the material was awful, I even hated the hat. I stitched a
hair comb in the front and back to keep it in place. It flew off at
gatwick and landed in a filthy puddle. I tried to steam the grime off
with a kettle. It sort of worked but the hat was then mis shaped. I was
brought in because of that, and told to be more careful as replacememts
As much as the 74-76 uniform was critisized. The 1976 replacement was complimented. The staff had a choice of two colours with the blouse, red or blue. There was a short sleeved option for summer as well. The house of Mansfield came up with the design. Although the uniform looks black on most pictures, it was, in fact the darkest blue. By having such a dark blue the uniform matched the aircraft. One critisism came from one stewardess who said "I always thought the hat was a bit on the high side! I prefered the blue one that came after it. now THAT was a uniform." Other comments included
- "I felt so proud wearing that uniform. I even drove to work in the hat."
- "I thought everything about that uniform was stylish. It fitted well and was cool in hot climates. The blouses washed well."
- "I've still got mine. I can't fit into it mind you - But it still hangs beautifully on the hanger. My daughter tried it on and it still looked lovely."
- "One of the girls from Monarch I knew came over to me at Manchester and said how she hated her uniform. She thought we looked like hostesses and that they looked like a walking banana."
In some respects it's slightly misleading to say that this uniform lasted 12 years. But in many ways it did. There were slight changes to it, but the jacket, hat, skirt and hat stayed unchanged. Some of the girls preferred trousers, but they stopped being a part of the uniform in the late eightes. There were some changes too in the overcoat. The cream option was dropped in favour of the cornflower blue one that had always been one of the options. This uniform was called "Mix and match" at the time of its conception. The designers, the house of Mansfield had initially chosen a brown uniform. This was quickly shelved. Tank tops or jumpers were an option too. In 1978 the uniform was launched. The blouse and dress in lemon had the company's compass and flag logo as a pattern. Shortly after the girls began wearing it they realised that at normal washing temperature, the whole design 'ran' this in turn made the lemon background a rather dull colour. It was changed in 1979 to a pale lemon, available in a blouse or dress. The outsize collars on this lasted until 1983 when a new look was debuted. The 1985 more changes had been introduced. This time, a white short or long sleeved blouse complemented the look. Comments included.
- This was my favourite of all the uniforms I ever wore
- How I hated that hat
- The coat was just awful - it buried eveyone who wore it
- I felt ten feet tall walking through the airport with this on.
Once again the House Of Mansfield was called in to work on the design for a new look. The bowler style hat was dropped in fabour of a felt hat. Cornflower blue remained the colour. The uniform was more tailored. The skirt length had increased. the kick pleat at the front was also to stay. A new, dotted pattern appeared on long and short sleeved blouses.This was available as a Summer dress too. The tank top was changed to match the blue of skirts and jackets. A much neater bow was introduced which was allowed to be worn in four styles. Comments included.
- Never liked the hat it was floppy and looked a mess if it got wet - which it did - A lot!
- The blouse was cheap and nasty
- The blouse was lovely - good quality cotton much better than what I wear now.....
- The tank top was lambs wool - good quality
- The uniform store was not the friendliest of places if you had ruined your hat - as I did more than once.
Very little changed in the 1989 uniform apart from a slightly lighter blue on the fabric. The main change was the introduction of a bright, bold print on the white blouse and Summer dress. Seen up close it can be seen to bear some resemblence to a bird in flight. The prnt featured the red and blue that adorned the aircraft in the fleet. Now the airline wanted to present itself as a smart scheduled airline targeting business travellers. The cut of the jacket left the 1980s giant shoulder pads out too. A significant streamlining in style had been achieved. By now men were working as cabin crew and a simple grey trouser with black blazer uniform was designed. This saw a white shirt with company tie and pin as accessories.
- Now that was a uniform
- No matter how much I complained they wouldn't change that bloody hat
- I put a little bit of weight on and they didn't have my size - I was told to make sure I fit in the skirt quickly
- I think we looked better than a lot of our contemporaries.
- I think the passengers liked this one - I was told by a few regulars who had noticed the change straight away.
The uniform that came on stream in 1991 was hardly a change at all. The hat had been dropped, causing relief to some, but consternation to others. It is worth noting that ground grew who worked with Class Elite passengers wore a black uniform. All other ground crew had worn the same uniform as cabin crew. Except at Gatwick where the familiar brown Gatwick Handling uniform was worn.
- The hat - thank God it was dropped
- We were not given the option to wear a hat - were were just told to stop
Whilst we were looking at the pictures of the cabin crew and what they wore - it is worth also mentioning the hard work that they had to do with the airline. In a lot of cases those early flights were at very unsociable hours. To do the job when you did not live near an airport could mean reloacting to a place where one did not know any other people. Many did just that. The crew had to work long hours under a great deal of pressure. They were very well trained, not least in safety proceedures. They had to engage in training in water as well as in mock ups of aircraft cabins. Far from being just a waitress in the sky the crew would have to deal with cash and stock and to satisfy customs requirements. This would mean ensuring that bonded stores had to be sealed in readiness at the UK. On flights that were very short the airlines would add extra touches to lure customers. A full cooked breakfast on a flight of less than an hour from London to Glasgow was not an easy task for more than a hundred passengers. Add in a complimentary drinks service and a hot drinks service and you eally had to work fast. Some of the crew who worked in the 1960s often had to work several sectors in one day. A shift pattern that saw Gatwick - Jersey - Gatwick - Guernsey - Gatwick - Ostend - Gatwick was not uncommon. Dan - Air did commence long haul flights in the early 1970s. This would mean that crews would disembark at the US end and wait a few days for the next incoming flight to work their way home. Later on the company concentrated on European charters and schedules. On occasion this would mean a 5.5 hour trip to Eilat or Luxor with a turn around and working flight home. When one considers that crew had been at the airport for briefing perhaps two hours before a flight and after it returned for debriefing and cashing up, once can see that it was a gruelling life. That said, the crew were renowned for their spirit and their sense of fun. All the stories I have heard lament the passing of the airline and most pepple tell me that their days at "Dans" were the best of their life.
Let's have a look at some company documents to demonstrate just what they had to undertake on each flight. Viewing the documents will give the reader an insight into how much more cabin crew were expected to do than today. The standards were exceptionally high. Today it is not unusual to be handed a drink with the bottle inside the glass. Cans handed to passengers is normal on airlines like Easy Jet - this would never happen with Dan - Air - have a look at these and next time you fly - observe and you will see why, the secret WAS service.
CABIN SERVICE MANUAL
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