cover image Fly Girl: A Memoir

Fly Girl: A Memoir

Ann Hood. Norton, $26.95 (288p) ISBN 978-1-324-00623-7

The “demanding, sexist, exciting, [and] glorious” golden age of air travel sets the spectacular stage for this sparkling account from former flight attendant and novelist Hood (Kitchen Yarns). Trained at Trans World Airlines’ selective Breech Training Academy in 1978 at age 21, Hood’s airline career began in the glitzy days of Ralph Lauren uniforms, high heels, and chateaubriand carving stations, and dramatically ended eight years later in a picket line, as the combined forces of deregulation, bankruptcies, and labor strikes sent the industry into a tailspin. Despite occasionally didactic forays into the history of air travel (“Qantas Airlines operated the world’s first international passenger service in 1935 between Brisbane and Singapore”), Hood’s companionable storytelling paired with her bold skewering an oft-glamorized world—riddled with surprise weight checks and aggressive male passengers—make for an enthralling account. Equally effective is her moving story of overcoming entrenched stereotypes—“glorified waitress, a sex kitten, an archaic symbol of women”—within the industry to become a writer, drafting stories late at night on long international flights “as passengers slept” and powering through jet lag in “hotel rooms in Zurich and Paris and Rome” to craft her first novel. From takeoff to landing, this entertains and inspires. (May)