In 1969, Fiji Airways had 10 air hostesses, one of whom openly admitted that it was not a glamorous job and required work.
Interestingly, only three races were recognised at the time for the job of air hostess only because "others" did not have a national costume.
One of the prerequisites of the job was to have a First Aid certificate. In Emelita Wendt's full page story on July 17, 1969, the role of air hostesses unfolds on board the national airline. Here is part of the story. A Fiji Airways HS748 stood parked on the runway at Nausori Airport. The passengers were gone but two tall attractive girls in salmon-pink outfits appeared in the doorway of the plane, linked arms and laughed as they shared a joke before they descended the gangway and disappeared into the terminal building.
Little is seen or heard of our girls who work up in the clouds. A glamorous job, you say? Far from it.
In fact, if she isn't serving breakfast or lunch or attending to her passengers, an air hostess is seeing to the needs of her pilot or sweeping or tidying up her kitchenette, or brewing more tea or coffee.
But the job has its compensations. New friends and new places to see. Perhaps that is why there is such stiff competition overseas for a post as air hostess. But necessary qualifications become higher as time goes on and often girls give up trying for the job when they find they cannot cope with the work. In Fiji, things have been kept simple. So far, there are 10 air hostesses - seven Fijians, two Indians and a Rotuman - all of whom have had to possess the qualities of charm, personality and a good command of English.
Personality and charm were the two that counted most, Adi Litia Cakobau, then 26 and an air hostess with the airline for the past three years had said at the time on a flight to Tonga. Adi Litia, the daughter of Ratu George Cakobau was accompanied on the flight by Premila Raman, 22 at the time who trained for a job about a year ago.
Both ladies chose their careers for the same reason - to meet new people, make new friends and to see the world. Adi Litia said there wasn't anything glamorous about the job, that they're kept busy all the time and that the job required hard work. "We have met a lot of VIPs too. Big business directors, our Government ministers, the Governor and Lady Foster, the President of Nauru and even an English actress. Most times we have had very pleasant and considerate passengers. Other times, we got those who were difficult, but managed to treat everyone the same," Adi Litia said.
Responding to questions by Wendt over the qualification requirements to work on the board the aircraft, Adi Litia said: "Aspirants don't have to be as tall as my five feet nine inches but they must be over 21, otherwise they produce written permission from their parents allowing them to become air hostesses.
"She must also have a First Aid certificate." Each hostess does one flight a day. Work starts an hour before take-off when she must report to the aircraft. After flight formalities, she checks that all her passengers are comfortable before serving breakfast or lunch.
"She is constantly on the go until the plane reaches its destination." Meanwhile, the roar of aircraft engines was exchanged for the peal of wedding bells when Ms Raman, daughter of Alfred Raman of Suva married Paul Brown, managing director of Guadalcanal Plains Limited in Honiara.
She was thankful that she could visit Mr Brown twice a week on the airline's weekly trips to Honiara.
The five feet seven inch tall air hostess wore salmon-pink coloured sari edged with black lace complemented by a similar number that Adi Litia bearing tapa designed borders. Ms Raman indulged in the latest mod fashions complete with pairs of fancy dark glasses which she bought on a trip to San Francisco and said she was crazy about soul dancing. Air hostesses for the national airline were given two weeks annual leave at the time. The absence of other local races in the air hostess line up was later found to be owed to the fact that "the "others" had no particular national costume. "This is the only drawback. The Fijian girl has her sulu, the Indian girl a sari, but what have the others got?" Ms Raman said.