Over the last 80 years, the flight attendant uniform insignia at United has gone through a number of changes. Based on the extensive research of current United Airlines flight attendant John Corpening and aviation memorabilia collector and historian Dr. Charles Quarles, the history of the United “wing” is presented below. Photographs are provided courtesy of UAHF Director Carole Fry Tye.
Click on any image to enlarge
1930 – 1932 (Jacket wing)
"Original Eight" sterling silver stewardess pin was issued by United’s predecessor company, Boeing Air Transport. Called the Boeing Bug or Boeing Totem pole, stewardesses were issued two pins, one for each lapel of their uniform jacket. The insignia was patterned after a totem pole and is still worn on Boeing company employee insignia pins.
1932 – 1937 (Jacket wing)
Curved gold tone design featured red, blue and black enamel and depicted United’s transcontinental route structure. This pin was also issued to pilots and worn on their uniform hat.
1937 – 1941 (Jacket wing)
Summer 1939 and 1941-1954 (Hat Wing)
During this period, United Air Lines introduced a variety of uniform styling variations of the stewardess uniform, sometimes every season. The large sterling silver half-wing was worn as the jacket or hat insignia as the dates indicate.
5/1941 - 1/1942
This wing in sterling silver with red and blue enamel was worn for only a brief time when United introduced male couriers on its DST (Douglas Sleeper Transports) on May 19, 1941. Because of the war, the couriers were eliminated from the DST in January of 1942. The same insignia was also worn by other United ground personnel but featured their job title below the wing.
1944 – 1951(Jacket wing)
Sterling silver wing with Red and blue enamel was inscribed “Mainliner Service” a term that United adopted with the introduction of the DC-3 in 1936. United aircraft were called Mainliners and they traveled mainline routes on United’s system.
1951 – 1957 (Jacket wing)
This jacket insignia was issued in sterling silver and red, white and blue enamel. It was reissued from 1954 – 1957 in a silver tone finish and was also worn on the jacket.
1954 – 1957 (Hat wing)
During this period stewardesses also wore a hat insignia of sterling silver and red and blue enamel that featured a more angled wing.
1957 – 1963 (Jacket wing)
A new logo insignia was introduced in sterling silver and red and blue color fill. Later versions were issued in a silver tone finish.
1957 – 1968 (Hat wing)
This half-wing was issued in sterling silver with red and blue color fill. It was reissued from 1963 - 1968 in silver tone finish with red and blue color fill and was also worn on the hat. . 1963 – 1968 (Hat wing)
Issued in silver tone finish with red and blue color fill.
1963 - 1968 (Jacket and blouse wing)
From 1963 to 1965 this silvertone wing with red and blue color fill was worn on the jacket. It featured an engraved bar with black color with that was customized with the the stewardess’ name. From 1965 to 1968, this wing was worn just below the neckline on the front of the uniform ascot drape blouse.
1968 – 1970 (Hat wing)
This larger version of the 1957-1963 jacket wing of silver tone finish with red and blue color fill enamel was worn in the center of the “Kepi” style hat.
1970 – 1973 (Sweater or blouse wing – female only)
Introduced in goldtone with red and blue color fill with the name bar engraved with black color fill. It was worn below neckline of uniform issue black sweater or white blouse.
Variations of this wing were issued with one single ruby or emerald stone that signified outstanding customer service.
1970 – 1976 (Jacket wing - male)
This larger goldtone wing with red and blue color fill was worn by United’s Hawaiian stewards who worked the routes between Hawaii and the Mainland starting in 1970, and by Mainland male flight attendants starting in 1972. 1973 – 1976 (Jacket wing – female)
Goldtone wing with red and blue color fill was smaller in size than the male issue of the same time period and it is pictured above the male wing.
1976 – 1990 (Jacket wing – male and female)
United introduced its famous “tulip” style logo by Saul Bass in a highly polished goldtone finish.
1990 – current (Jacket wing – male and female)
This pewtertone wing with red and blue color fill features four stars over the United Air Lines insignia. Each star represents one of United’s four predecessor airlines – Varney Airlines, Boeing Air Transport, National Air Transport and Pacific Air Transport.
This insignia also serves to recognize years of service with the company. A diamond chip designating 10 years of service was added to the wing and then an additional diamond was added after each five years of service up to 50 years of service (9 diamonds).
Wings from a second manufacturer were darker in appearance (gun metal gray) and some of the fine detailing was eliminated.
1990 PurserWings (Temporary Design)
Pursers at United were issued this pewtertone wing with red and blue color fill. The style to the left with a rounded top and bottom was worn briefly while the final design was voted on.
1990 Style II Purser Wings (Final Design)
The final design was pewtertone with red and blue color fill in the United logo. The top of the wing featured an engraved name bar with black color fill. Diamond chips would be added for years of service, utilizing the customary UA recognition for years of service that is on the current non purser jacket wings.