Jeff Bezos' Partner Lauren Sánchez Recalls Being Rejected as Southwest Flight Attendant Because of Her Weight
Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for Robin Hood Lauren Sánchez and Jeff Bezos
Jeff Bezos' partner Lauren Sánchez is getting candid about an unpleasant encounter that set her on a new career path.
The Emmy-award-winning journalist and helicopter pilot, 53, told WSJ Magazine in a recent interview that when she was 18, she wanted to become a flight attendant. However, her dreams were dashed when, she says, she failed a mandatory weigh-in for a position with Southwest Airlines in 1989.
"Back then, they weighed you, and I weighed 121 pounds," she explains. "They said, 'You need to be 115.'" She noted that if she had to do it all over again she would say, "I don't want to be a stewardess. I want to be the pilot!"
Southwest Airlines did not immediately respond to PEOPLE's request for comment.
Southwest's current flight attendant careers page states that for prospective candidates, "Weight must be of such proportion to height that a neat appearance is maintained and the physical ability to perform all job functions is not hindered." It also notes potential flight attendants need to be at least 20 years old, maintain "a well-groomed appearance," and be able to lift 50 lbs. to shoulder height among other physical qualifications.
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Sánchez became a reporter, working on-air at KTVK in Phoenix, Ariz. and then at Fox Sports, Extra and Good Day L.A. But she eventually felt called back to flying — as both her parents had been pilots — and signed up for classes at an L.A. flight school to get her helicopter pilot's license.
She tells WSJ that she tries to fly at least three times per week to stay up to date, and often shuttles both her and Bezos' family around.
"I don't know why more women don't do it," she says, adding that when other women find out what she does, they're often shocked. "They're like, "What? You're such a bada--!" And I want to say it's really not that hard. I do want more women to get involved in it."
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Up next, she's hoping to fly somewhere a little higher. She told the publication that she'll be on an upcoming Blue Origin trip to space with an all-female crew of "women who are making a difference in the world and who are impactful and have a message to send."
"I'm super excited about it. And a little nervous," she tells WSJ of the voyage, which is currently slated to take place by early 2024. "I've wanted to be in the rocket from the jump, so [Bezos] is excited to make this happen with all of these women."
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"He's very encouraging and excited, and he's thrilled we're putting this group together," she adds.
But, she also said, Bezos, 59, won't be going. "As much as he wants to go on this flight, I'm going to have to hold him back," she saysin the interview. "He'll be cheering us all on from the sidelines."