Iris Peterson

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Iris Peterson
Born 1922
Occupation flight attendant
Known for flight attendant #1 in terms of seniority

Iris Peterson (born 1922) is a retired flight attendant who flew for United Airlines for 60 years between 1946 and 2007. At the time of her retirement at the age of 85, she was #1 in terms of seniority.


Iris Peterson began her career in 1946. She held various leadership positions in the flight attendants' union. In 1953, she became the first lobbyist for the Air Line Stewards and Stewardesses Association. In 1968, she helped develop safety plans for the first jumbo aircraft. Working with aircraft engineers, 17 safety items were accepted, including the evacuation alarm, now standard equipment on aircraft worldwide. She retired on April 23, 2007.

When she started her career, job restrictions included age, gender, ethnicity and weight, which favored men and discriminated against women. A tribute to Peterson by the United Airlines Association of Flight Attendants notes that she and her peers helped to destroy discriminatory practices, advancing the rights of women and uprooting gender discrimination (example flight attendants' right to be married, which wasn't allowed until 1968).

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