In China, becoming a flight attendant is serious business. The positions are considered prestigious and thousands compete for coveted spots despite poor treatment, low pay, and grueling conditions, according to the Global Times.

China Southern Airlines, one of the country's largest carriers, recently held a pageant-style competition to recruit a new class of stewardesses. Tens of thousands applied; the company even turned the interview process into an American Idol-type reality TV show. 98% didn't make it past the first interview.

Here's what China Southern Airlines requires:

  • Women must be 25 or younger
  • They must be single
  • They must be between 5' and 5'9"
  • Their legs cannot be "X or O shaped"
  • There are also restrictions on their weight-to-height ratio
  • No glasses or visible scars

Hong Kong Airlines goes beyond physical requirements and trains all its flight attendants in kungfu.

American airlines imposed similar restrictions on flight attendants' physical characteristics in the 1930s and '40s; those standards were relaxed, although they lingered in some form, through the 1960s. Today such requirements would be considered illegal.

[Republished with permission from Authored by Julie Zeveloff. Image via myfreeco/]