Even after working as a flight attendant for over six decades, Bette Nash still smiles at her passengers like it’s her first day of work. She never gets tired of pushing trolleys, serving food, or repeating safety instructions now engraved in her mind.
When a 16-year-old girl took her first flight back in the early 1950s, she was impressed by the flight attendants walking toward her. Five years later, in 1957, the same girl, Bette Nash, started her career as a flight attendant for Eastern Airlines.
Nash has seen the aviation industry develop over the past 65 years. Her first flight cost only $12, and the uniform she wore back then was nothing like the one she wears today.
“Gone are the days of hand-written tickets, stickers for seat assignments, and chalkboards,” the Manassas, Virginia, flight attendant said. She recalled that passengers used to get life insurance through vending machines, and there was no system of reservations.
Back then, the rules for flight attendants were stricter. Nash said she couldn’t get married because of the airline policies. The airline officials visited flight attendants’ houses to ensure they weren’t living with a partner.
Moreover, flight attendants, who wore “very conservative” uniforms back then, according to Nash, had to maintain their weight. Gaining a few extra pounds meant they could lose their jobs.
A photo of Bette Nash from 1950s displayed in Arlington, Virginia on November 1, 2007. | Source: Getty Images
The Passionate Flight Attendant
Throughout her career of 65 years, Nash has interacted with many different people. Although many things have changed in the aviation industry, Nash shared one thing that is still the same―her passengers. She thinks they still need only two things: love and attention.
While people remember the flights they took with Nash, the flight attendant said there is one flight that will always remain close to her heart.
Nash became a part of American Airlines after it acquired Eastern Airlines, but nothing changed for her. She still greets her passengers with a smile and makes them feel comfortable during their journey in the sky.
After working for decades, Nash has the liberty to choose her routes, but she still sticks to her usual New York-Washington-Boston shuttle because it allows her to return home every night to her son with special needs.
Now 86, she loves working as a flight attendant and passes the yearly test that includes pulling a passenger to the aisle and performing CPR. As of now, she has no plans of retiring.
Nash thinks she was meant to be a flight attendant because her job makes her happy. She enjoys interacting with her passengers and learning new things from them because every person she meets brings with them a different life story.
The World Record
After working as a flight attendant for more than six decades, Nash became the longest-serving flight attendant, according to the Guinness World Records.
Doing the same thing for decades might make people bored, but Nash’s love for her work has only intensified each year. She couldn’t have imagined doing something else for a living other than being a flight attendant.
Passengers who fly with American Airlines regularly can vouch for Nash’s hospitality. Simon Johnson, a regular passenger, said Nash “warms up the entire aircraft” and remembers who you are even if you fly after a month.
Another passenger confessed that the flights he took with Nash were one of the best. She never fails to impress people with her kindness and compassion and is always ready to chat with the people onboard.
While people remember the flights they took with Nash, the flight attendant said there is one flight that will always remain close to her heart―the one where Jackie Kennedy was her passenger.
The Chairman of American Airlines feels Nash has played an essential role in maintaining the company’s reputation. Her smile, friendly nature, and positive attitude have helped her take care of millions of passengers.
“Even when I think I might retire, I come to work, and I think, ‘I can’t do that,’” Nash said. Since she has no plans to retire, you might see her welcome you warmly on one of your next American Airlines flights. We’re sure your journey will be nothing short of a pleasant experience.
We wish Nash all the best and hope she keeps making passengers feel comfortable in the sky. Share her incredible story with your friends and family. It might make their day.
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