In 1928, Boeing introduced America’s first airliner designed specifically for passenger comfort and convenience. The Model 80’s fuselage was made of welded-steel tubing covered with fabric, and its wooden wingtips were removable so the airplane could fit into the primitive hangars along its route.
Despite complaints by pilots accustomed to flying in an open cockpit, the size of the Model 80 required a separate, enclosed flightdeck. The Model 80 carried passengers in a spacious cabin appointed with leather upholstery, reading lamps, forced-air ventilation, and hot and cold running water. The first version carried 12 people, and it was followed by the larger, 18-passenger Model 80A, which made its first flight, Sept. 12, 1929. Ten Model 80As flew for the Boeing airlines.
Ellen Church, a registered nurse, convinced Boeing managers that women could work as stewards, so nurses serving aboard the Model 80A became aviation’s first female flight attendants. They earned $125 for flying 100 hours a month.