Mile-High Club

Pop Culture’s Craziest Flight Attendants (VIDEO)

As ‘I’m So Excited’ hits theaters, Kevin Fallon looks back at pop culture’s most memorable stewards.


In I’m So Excited, Pedro Almodovar’s new comedy (in theaters Friday), three flight attendants drug the passengers, get exceptionally drunk, and start an orgy—taking a quick break in the middle to perform a carefully rehearsed lipsynced version of the titular Pointer Sisters’ classic. Depending on how you feel about all those activities, the trio is either a dream to be trapped with 30,000 feet in the air, or a nightmare.

But are the antics any better or worse than what we’ve come to expect from flight attendants in movies? Here’s a look back at the craziest stewards and stewardesses on screen.

Helen Hunt and David Spade in Saturday Night Live

Hunt and Spade may not drug their passengers in this 1994 SNL skit, but their incessant, catty repeating of “buh-bye” may make the passengers wish they did.

Britney Spears in ‘Toxic’

Sure, Spears ends up being some crazy femme fatale spy who poisons her boyfriend—but have you seen her in that stewardess outfit? (To say nothing of the diamond-studded nude cat suit she sports in much of the video.) Let’s just put it this way: Spy or not, if Britney Spears were really a flight attendant, suddenly every man in coach would be asking for extra blankets.

Kirsten Dunst in Elizabethtown

The stock character in indie movies known as the “manic pixie dream girl” earned its nickname after Elizabethtown hit theaters. Film critics coined the term after watching Dunst’s performance as a flight attendant in the movie, explaining that the manic pixie dream girl is “that bubbly, shallow cinematic creature that exists solely in the fevered imaginations of writer-directors to teach broodingly soulful young men to embrace life and its infinite mysteries and adventures.” So if you’re an angsty white male in your late 20s, a flight attendant like Dunst would be a godsend. If you’re among the legion of movie buffs who decry the manic pixie dream girl, book another flight.

Pam Grier in Jackie Brown

Need to smuggle drug money in the air? This is your girl.

Julie Hagerty in Airplane!

“There’s no reason to be alarmed, and we hope you’ll enjoy the rest of your flight. By the way, is there anyone on board who knows how to fly a plane?” Batty as she is, we’d book a ticket for the nightmare of flight in Airplane! just to hear Hagerty’s glorious intercom announcements as Elaine Dickinson.

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Zooey Deschanel in Almost Famous

More than a decade before she made “adorkable” a thing with the success of New Girl, Deschanel had a small role in Almost Famous. She played the sister of aspiring rock journalist William as a free spirit who leaves the chokehold of suburban life to travel the world as a flight attendant and encourages similar rebellion in her brother. Plus, she communicates with her family through rock-and-roll records, making her almost impossibly cool.

Gwyneth Paltrow and Kelly Preston in A View From the Top

In A View From the Top, Paltrow and Preston play flight attendants for Sierra Airlines, which boasts the motto “Big hair, short skirts, and service with a smile.” For some (many) unfussy travelers, that’s probably enough reason to fly.

The Cast of Pan Am

CBS’s short-lived drama about the Pan Am stewardesses of the ’60s flopped in its only season. But it’s not for lack of ambition. One character moonlighted as a spy. Another penned op-eds for the Village Voice. Maybe if they centered their focus on their day jobs, Pan Am would still be flying.