Air India Saree

by Guruprasad

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In one of the prev pics in this album, we saw how Air India hired Anglo-Indians as flight attendants and had an European dress code

We had questions about when did they change the dress code to saris. Also, I had mentioned that some of the business tycoons fell in love with flight attendants and eventually married them. Lets see all those in today’s story.

For almost 2 decades Air India was happy with the European style of dresses but slowly as they started advertising India as a tourist destination in foreign newspapers, they realized that it was time to give a royal treatment to passengers in Indian style. They started hiring Indian girls and had 2 kinds of dress code. One was totally royal with the cabin decorated in palace style with flight attendants in Ghagra Choli as shown in the left side ad. Another dress code was the Sari worn in the most elegant manner. By 1970s, the Sari went on to become the permanent dress code in Air India.

The era of 1970s was the peak time for these flight attendants because in those days, such job was done out of passion and not as a means of livelihood. These attendants were in heavy demand by the advertising industry as well. There was a time when someone wanted to make an ad, the first thing they would do was approach Air India for auditions. It was the one stop place for advertising, modelling, and also a place of match making for high profile businessmen :)

It was during this time, some of the business tycoons fell in love with these flight attendants.
Some of the popular ones include:
-Adi Godrej, head of Godrej industries, married Parmeshwar Godrej.
-Nusli Wadia, head of Bombay Dyeing, married Maureen Wadia.
-Liquor Baron Vijay Mallya met his first wife Sameera Mallya in a Plane.
-Biscuit king Rajan Pillai married Nina Pillai.

Now these beauty queens have grown old but they are still leading an active social life. Maureen heads Gladrags magazine. Parmeshwar is into social awareness, philanthropy and a mentor in the fashion industry. Nina is a Mumbai socialite.

Some recent pics:

Parmeshwar Godrej

Maureen Wadia

Nina Pillai

Air India and its service was considered to be one of the best in the world in 1970s. In fact, Singapore Airlines flight attendants were given training by our very own Air India. Today, Singapore Airlines, which learnt from us, is considered as the best, while ours has lost the charm.

Why did Air India’s service start going downhill? Was it because of some wrong decisions taken by it’s management or due to Govt? How did such an airline which stressed on having the most beautiful flight attendants end up having aunties?
All these questions will be answered using different photos and narrations later :)