World's Longest-Serving Flight Attendant Dies

'Fly high, Bette,' American Airlines says
By Rob Quinn,  Newser Staff
Posted May 27, 2024 4:22 PM CDT

Bette Nash, who started working as a flight attendant before Boeing launched its first jetliner and never officially retired, has died at age 88. Nash, who started flying with Eastern Airlines in November 1957, held the Guinness World Record for the longest career as a flight attendant. ABC News reports that she died May 17 after a recent breast cancer diagnosis.

  • "We mourn the passing of Bette Nash, who spent nearly seven decades warmly caring for our customers in the air," American Airlines, which took over many Eastern routes after the airline went bust in 1991, said in a post on X. "Bette inspired generations of flight attendants. Fly high, Bette."

  • In 2016, she told CNN that she was attracted to the job by the romance and glamour. She said she decided it was the job for her when she was 16 and saw a TWA crew at the airport before she flew for the first time. "The pilot and the flight attendant walked across the hall and I thought 'Oh my God,' and I said that was for me."
  • Nash, who was based at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, could have had her pick of routes, but she stuck to the DC-Boston shuttle so she could be home every night to care for her son, who has Down syndrome.
  • In a 2022 interview with ABC, she reflected on how the industry had changed over the decades. She said that when she started flying, passengers routinely bought life insurance from vending machines before flights. Nash said flight attendants had to be single, and the airline would sometimes check her home to make sure she wasn't living with a man. Airlines also had strict weight requirements for flight attendants. She said she was weighed before shifts and could be suspended if she put on too many pounds.
  • "She touched many with her warmth, dedication, and service," her union, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants, said in a statement. "RIP, Bette. You won't be forgotten."
(More flight attendant stories.)

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