Heinrich Kubis: The First Flight Attendant
Flight attendants as they are mostly referred to today have been around since 1912. The history of the flight attendant began as soon as passenger air travel began. In fact the first reported known flight attendant was in Germany named Heinrich Kubis.
In March, 1912, Heinrich Kubis became the first flight attendant in history when he began taking care of passengers and serving meals on the German airline DELAG.
Kubis began working as an air steward one month before the sinking of the Titanic, and more than 18 years before Ellen Church became the world’s first stewardess on May 15, 1930.
Heinrich Kubis was born on June 16th, 1888, and had worked in some of the most fashionable hotels in Europe, such as the Carlton in London and the Ritz in Paris, before plying his trade on Zeppelins. Chief Steward Heinrich Kubis held the distinction of being the world’s first air steward, having served Zeppelin passengers in-flight since March of 1912, when he began contract catering on the DELAG airship Schwaben.
Kubis almost missed the Hindenburg’s first North American flight of 1937 due to illness. Steward Rudolf Staberoh had been contacted and was ready to stand in for Kubis as Chief Steward for the flight, but Kubis recovered in time to make the trip on May 3rd, and Staberoh flew on the Graf Zeppelin’s flight to Rio that same week instead.
Kubis was in Hindenburg’s dining room when the ship burst into flame at Lakehurst, New Jersey on May 6, 1937. When the Hindenburg sank close enough to the ground, Kubis encouraged passengers and crew to jump from the windows and jumped to safety himself. Kubis landed without injury and was not hurt in the disaster.
He had also evaded injury when working on the Schwaben when it caught fire in 1912.