86-year-old woman is longest-serving flight attendant, Guinness says

Bette Nash will celebrate 65 years in-flight this fall.

July 1, 2022, 5:03 PM

At 86 years old, American Airlines flight attendant Bette Nash is the oldest and longest-serving flight attendant in the world, according to Guinness World Records.

Nash started flying back in 1957 and will celebrate 65 years in-flight this fall.

She can choose any route she wants and for most of her career she has been loyal to the New York-Washington-Boston Shuttle.

Nash prefers this route because she says it allows her to be home every night with her handicapped son who she continues to care for to this day.

PHOTO: In this Nov. 9, 2017, file photo, American Airlines Flight Attendant Bette Nash checks on her passengers en route from Boston to DCA.
In this Nov. 9, 2017, file photo, American Airlines Flight Attendant Bette Nash checks on her passengers en route from Boston to DCA.
The Washington Post via Getty Images, FILE

When she first started flying, she says passengers bought life insurance from a vending machine before boarding and the airline would check on her at home to ensure she wasn’t living with a man because flight attendants had to be single. The airline also weighed her before shifts and could suspend her if she gained too much weight, she said.

“You had to be a certain height, you had to be a certain weight. It used to be horrible. You put on a few pounds and you had to keep weighing yourself, and then if you stayed that way, they would take you off the payroll,” Nash said during a flight in 2017 with ABC affiliate WJLA cameras onboard.

PHOTO: In this Dec. 19, 2017, file photo, American Airlines longest serving flight attendant, Bette Nash, 81 years old, walks in the airport after disembarking from her daily return flight to Boston at Ronald Reagan Washington Airport in Arlington, Va.
In this Dec. 19, 2017, file photo, American Airlines longest serving flight attendant, Bette Nash, 81 years old, walks in the airport corridors after disembarking from her daily return flight to Boston at Ronald Reagan Washington Airport in Arlington, Va.
Eric Baradat/AFP via Getty Images, FILE

Nash started flying with Eastern Airlines and through a number of mergers, including with Donald Trump’s airline in the late 1980’s, ended up at American Airlines.

In the early days, passengers paid the flight attendant when they boarded; Nash says her early flights cost $12 between New York and Washington.

“We used to pass out cigarettes and matches...on the flight, after the meal service, I would go around with Kent’s and Marlboros,” she told WJLA on her 60th anniversary.

Nash still attends regular flight attendant training per Federal Aviation Administration rules.

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