Entrant in the 1967 Miss International Air Hostess Quest

Between 1963 and 1969, the Gold Coast hosted the Miss International Air Hostess Quest.

It lived up to its name, attracting contestants from countries as diverse as the United States, West Germany, Sweden, India, Canada, Ireland, Malaysia, New Zealand, and Peru. It was intended partially as an opportunity for flight attendants to compare notes on how different airlines approached in-flight service.

Despite the name, its founder, former Surfer’s Paradise newspaper editor Alex McRobbie, insisted that it was not a beauty contest with contestants ‘judged solely on their ability as flight attendants’. (In 1967, the entrant from QANTAS was the former beauty queen Miss Carolyn Haby. This was, no doubt, a wise choice, as the previous year, Peggy McCullough, ‘the North Carolina photo queen’, was placed second. In 1963, second place went to India’s Perin Spencer, who was also Miss Bombay 1962 and 1963.)

Protests notwithstanding, beauty was generally considered an essential quality for an air hostess in the 1960s and airlines often imposed strict guidelines monitoring their hostesses’ appearances, including their beauty routines and weight. Being married or over thirty were disqualifying factors.

Hostesses were also required to wear a range of striking uniforms. (Japanese hostesses flying with QANTAS between Australia and Japan were required to wear kimonos and hostesses working as part of Ansett-ANA’s ‘Golden Supper Club Service’ wore gold lame dresses.) The competition did have a charitable side. In 1969, it collected donations for the International Multiple Sclerosis Society. It also provided an opportunity to showcase the Gold Coast, with entrants in 1967 being photographed with a lobster, in a vintage car, and feeding lorikeets at Currumbin Wildlife Sanctuary.