86-Year-Old Flight Attendant Sets New World Record

86-Year-Old Flight Attendant Sets New World Record

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American Airlines loyalists may already be familiar with Bette Nash, and most of us assumed that she was the longest serving flight attendant out there. This has now been confirmed by the Guinness World Records.

Flight attendant celebrates 65th work anniversary

Bette Nash is an American Airlines flight attendant based in Boston, and she has just been recognized by Guinness World Records for being the world’s longest serving flight attendant. She started her career as a flight attendant back in 1957.

Bette Nash at her 60th anniversary work party

At the age of 86, she’s currently the world’s oldest flight attendant. As American’s most senior flight attendant, she could fly any route she wants. So while senior flight attendants generally choose long haul flights, that’s not what Bette chooses. Rather she flies almost exclusively from Boston to New York and Washington, so that she can be home every night. That’s because she has a special needs son who she cares for.

While Bette is the oldest and most senior flight attendant in the world right now, she’s not the oldest flight attendant ever. In 2014, a 90-year-old Delta flight attendant was forced to retire. He had been at the airline for just under 63 years, and it seems he wasn’t happy about needing to retire, as it was described as a “seven-month stressful and unfortunate ordeal.”

Bob Reardon worked at Delta until the age of 90

She’s also not American’s most senior employee, as the airline has a 96-year-old mechanic who has been at the airline for 80 years.

Bette Nash is such a good vibe

Admittedly the concept of an 86-year-old working in a frontline customer service role is kind of hard for many people to wrap their heads around. That’s especially true outside the United States, where you’ll almost never seen flight attendants that are 65+ years old (meanwhile in the United States that’s incredibly common).

I find that the most senior flight attendants can be a mixed bag, and service can be on both ends of the spectrum. I’ve had so many amazing, passionate, friendly, professional, happy senior flight attendants, and I’ve also had many senior flight attendants who are… not those things.

But Bette Nash deserves endless credit for simply being an amazing human being. Here’s how she described her attitude:

“I love my people, and I love being on the same flight all the time, that I know my customers, you know what they want. The airline thinks names are important, but I think a lot of times peoples’ needs are very important. Everybody wants a little love.”

Below is a video CNN did about her around five years ago, back when she was “only” celebrating her 60th anniversary of flying.

Bottom line

Guinness World Records has recognized Bette Nash as being the world’s most senior flight attendant. The 86-year-old has been at American Airlines for 65 years, and she’s totally awesome. Congrats, Bette, and keep it up!

Has anyone had the pleasure of flying with Bette?

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  1. James Guest

    I congratulate her on her long career with the airline. But I wonder god forbid if there is an emergency situation flight attendants are suppose assist other passengers with whatever is needed and some involves strength. How will she handle those situations?

  2. Steven Guest

    Bette is my aunt, although I have never been on a flight with her despite being a million-miler on AA.

  3. Exec Plat Cat Guest

    As a recently retired sales rep, I can tell you that it is not always about the money. Most times it's the enjoyment and fulfillment of the job that keeps you working. My last job of 6 years was one of great success until the last couple of years. Covid and new management made it no fun anymore. So I retired, but will be consulting. I always said "I will work as long as I...

    As a recently retired sales rep, I can tell you that it is not always about the money. Most times it's the enjoyment and fulfillment of the job that keeps you working. My last job of 6 years was one of great success until the last couple of years. Covid and new management made it no fun anymore. So I retired, but will be consulting. I always said "I will work as long as I continue to have fun and succeed in selling. Once that wasn't the case I would retire." BTW, I'm 74 and still enjoying life.

  4. Jean Adams Guest

    Congrats to a trooper who shows that age IS just a number. She is extremely special, and I wish I had the chance to meet her.

  5. Long Way Around Guest

    It's one of those stories that USAmericans think are heartwarming, and the rest of us look with utter disgust at a society where an 86 year old woman has to keep working a high intensity job in order to survive, and to support her special needs son. And then she is paraded as if it's anything to celebrate. Yikes!!!

    1. Tim Dunn Diamond

      who ever said she HAS TO work? Did it occur to you that she contiues to work because she WANTS TO and does her job well.
      She said she works flights in the NE BECAUSE she wants to come home for her son, not that she works because she needs to do so for her special needs son.
      Don't project your interpretation of her situation into what she did not say.

    2. Koggerj Guest

      She chooses to keep working

  6. Lisa hurdle Guest

    Congrats Betty u go live your life to the fullest and u take care of your son that's what woman and mother's do who runs the world be safe and God bless everyone

    1. Paul Augustine Guest

      Great comment Bette looks 40 years old.

  7. SkyKai Guest

    Factual Innacuracy, she is based at DCA.

  8. Petri Diamond

    Life is good. The rich life is also about sharing positive, encouraging news. Not only concentrating on personal, economic gains.

  9. iamhere Guest

    How does this affect my points and miles strategy?
    After all, I thought this was the primary point of this blog.

  10. Neil Guest

    Only in the USA ! !. Personally I find it very sad that a lady of some 86 years old has to still work to live and care for her special needs son. It would be better if the airlines retired their FA,s at the normal retirement age of 65 as their job can be both physical and very stressful dealing with a often very ignorant and extremely rude public. Personal experience on long haul...

    Only in the USA ! !. Personally I find it very sad that a lady of some 86 years old has to still work to live and care for her special needs son. It would be better if the airlines retired their FA,s at the normal retirement age of 65 as their job can be both physical and very stressful dealing with a often very ignorant and extremely rude public. Personal experience on long haul from Australia to USA most do very little and leave virtually all of the work to the younger crew members, to their chagrin.

  11. Michael Gerard Guest

    What a lovely inspiring story about a beautiful amazing lady, i imagine working as a junior learning from her would be a great experience, my friend is 75 and still works as a nurse on night duty and is a great inspiration to me as i am only 64 still working as a nurse on day duty.

  12. Regis Guest

    I anyone surprised she works for AA?

  13. Monica Merchant Guest

    I just had the pleasure of flying on one of Bette Nash's trips from Washington, DC to Portland Maine. She was delightful and her cheeriness was reflected in the rest of the cabin crew, who were also "senior" flight attendants. It was a very enjoyable flight.

  14. Howard Koch Guest

    Nowhere in the article did it say that she has to work to provide for her special needs child. It said that she likes to be home at night to care for her special needs child. I’m assuming that she works because she wants to work. Her child most likely receives Social Security disability income, and she very likely receives Social Security. I doubt that money has anything to do with it. She goes home at night because she loves her child.

  15. Terry Guest

    It’s great that people can work as long as they want. And as long as they’re capable.

  16. HK Guest

    I've been lucky enough to be on a flight with her. She was an absolute delight. Good for her.

  17. Stuart Guest

    Was just thinking as well, given that U.S. FA's like to compare themselves to first responders.....(insert response here).

    1. Jojo Guest

      I'm friends with few 80+ years old that don't work but are strong mentally and physically and they feel so useless without working, and if they complain, it's they have too much time on their hands to think about dying, especially because peers their age pass away on the yearly or more often bases. Betty has saved herself from it and is an inspiration for others besides that.

  18. John T Guest

    I'm sure she gives excellent service but an 86 year old should be retired with her feet up.

  19. BenjaminGuttery Gold

    Good for her! I like reading a "feel good" airline story now and then, especially about my hometown airline of AA. Congrats!

  20. AC Guest

    I don't understand why more companies don't have mandatory retirement ages. Pilots have to retire by 65 and in the past many companies had similar policies. I don't know if it is need to retain workers or concerns about discriminating against old people but this is frankly ridiculous. IMHO no one should be allowed to work past 70 (at the latest). They can't be as productive as younger employees and are taking the spot of...

    I don't understand why more companies don't have mandatory retirement ages. Pilots have to retire by 65 and in the past many companies had similar policies. I don't know if it is need to retain workers or concerns about discriminating against old people but this is frankly ridiculous. IMHO no one should be allowed to work past 70 (at the latest). They can't be as productive as younger employees and are taking the spot of someone that needs to be moved up. A similar case (not in the airline industry is Tony Fauci who is 81 and still taking his government paycheck).

    BTW - I am 64 and been retired for over 3 years so it can be done people

    1. PC Texas Guest

      Do you realize people like to work? Not everyone wants to sit on their butts and eat bonbons!

  21. Mary S Guest

    are any US based flight attendants under the age of 86?

    bing! Zow!

  22. Alec Guest

    Any idea what you think her pay would look like at this point?

    1. CHRIS Guest

      These is an absolutely ZERO percentage chance of her dragging passenger's limp bodies out of a burning fuselage.....like they all tell us they routinely do.

  23. Alex Guest

    Good for her and happy that she stayed healthy to take care of her son. Sad for the state of affairs of the richest country on earth that this is required for lack of a care system for her and the son.

    1. DEE Guest

      what are u taking about??Care is available in every Emergency ROom in the US!!!No insurance questions asked.,,this has been a federal law since the late 70's...also her son has to be on Medicare by now????

    2. Mike Guest

      You do realize that hospitals are only required to stabilize individuals to the point where their condition will not worsen upon leaving said facility. They aren't obligated to provide any care beyond that.

      If you show up without insurance, you do, eventually, get a bill for that stabilization treatment, and you are obligated to pay for said treatment, and it can eventually go to collections, depending on the specific hospital and which state you...

      You do realize that hospitals are only required to stabilize individuals to the point where their condition will not worsen upon leaving said facility. They aren't obligated to provide any care beyond that.

      If you show up without insurance, you do, eventually, get a bill for that stabilization treatment, and you are obligated to pay for said treatment, and it can eventually go to collections, depending on the specific hospital and which state you are in. Some hospitals just write the payment off as a loss, others will definitely send the bill to collections, and investigate if you truly are unable to pay.

    3. Parker Guest

      Contrary to your belief, emergency room care isn’t free in the United States; patients with the means to pay can, should, and will be billed for their care. The only thing the emergency room is required to do under EMTALA is to stabilize you.

    4. Regis Figur Guest

      It is true that no insurance or payment is required of anyone as a condition of treatment in Emergency Rooms in the United States. But this does not mean an ER visit will be free. First that emergency care is limited to stabilizing a patient suffering from an acute, life-threatening condition, so you won't get treatment for chronic conditions, like cancer. After this initial care is provided, and your life is no longer in immediate...

      It is true that no insurance or payment is required of anyone as a condition of treatment in Emergency Rooms in the United States. But this does not mean an ER visit will be free. First that emergency care is limited to stabilizing a patient suffering from an acute, life-threatening condition, so you won't get treatment for chronic conditions, like cancer. After this initial care is provided, and your life is no longer in immediate danger, you will be presented with a bill for all the services rendered. The patient is always on the hook to pay for ER cares, the only thing is that no upfront payment can demanded. Afterwards, however, the hospital and their collection agencies will come after you for every cent.

    5. BenjaminGuttery Gold

      In many countries her adult child with special needs would have been aborted, given up for adoption, or passed by now. Also you have ZERO idea about her, her son, her life, her financial situation, or what AA has probably stepped up and provided her and her family over the years. So just stop it already with the political preaching on a feel good article about an amazing career achievement on her part.

    6. Ralph4878 Guest

      Right, @BenjaminGuttery, no "political preaching" or conjecturing in your response at all...

    7. Ivan Bou Guest

      She must be doing it to spend time with him. I have a special needs child and people with special needs in the US have a broad range of support available including free medical insurance under Medicaid or Medicare , disability cash payments from social security and other home care assistance. With her pension benefits she doesn’t need to work as she has maxed out her pension, and is legible for Medicare and retiree health....

      She must be doing it to spend time with him. I have a special needs child and people with special needs in the US have a broad range of support available including free medical insurance under Medicaid or Medicare , disability cash payments from social security and other home care assistance. With her pension benefits she doesn’t need to work as she has maxed out her pension, and is legible for Medicare and retiree health. She wants to work and spend time with her child. The cracks in our healthcare system are more for working middle class adults where many states refused the expansion of Medicaid benefits offered under the affordable care act and that health out of pocket costs are high for many people but in most cases people with social needs have broad based support.

  24. AA70 Gold

    His excellency Akbar Al Baker wasn’t kidding. Jokes aside good for her!

  25. Stuart Guest

    It's the Turkey Pastrami Sandwiches. I have been telling people they promote longevity, here is your proof.

    1. Ralph4878 Guest

      Thank you, @Stuart...this made me LMAO.

  26. Tim Dunn Diamond

    She not only looks great but she seems to have all of the energy necessary to do the job. Staying employed as a flight attendant is about passing tests some of which involve demonstrating physical strength. Some people know when it is no longer safe for them to fly while others need to be given a little push.
    The fact that she cares for someone else at her age and still works is nothing...

    She not only looks great but she seems to have all of the energy necessary to do the job. Staying employed as a flight attendant is about passing tests some of which involve demonstrating physical strength. Some people know when it is no longer safe for them to fly while others need to be given a little push.
    The fact that she cares for someone else at her age and still works is nothing short of amazing.
    She has seen nearly all of the jet age so she has seen volumes of aviation history. Maybe someone will get her to sit down long enough to write a book.

    My hat is completely off to her!

  27. West Coast Flyer Guest

    Just 65 more years and she'll have that American Dream everyone keeps going on about!

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Tim Dunn Diamond

She not only looks great but she seems to have all of the energy necessary to do the job. Staying employed as a flight attendant is about passing tests some of which involve demonstrating physical strength. Some people know when it is no longer safe for them to fly while others need to be given a little push. The fact that she cares for someone else at her age and still works is nothing short of amazing. She has seen nearly all of the jet age so she has seen volumes of aviation history. Maybe someone will get her to sit down long enough to write a book. My hat is completely off to her!

3
Michael Gerard Guest

What a lovely inspiring story about a beautiful amazing lady, i imagine working as a junior learning from her would be a great experience, my friend is 75 and still works as a nurse on night duty and is a great inspiration to me as i am only 64 still working as a nurse on day duty.

2
Monica Merchant Guest

I just had the pleasure of flying on one of Bette Nash's trips from Washington, DC to Portland Maine. She was delightful and her cheeriness was reflected in the rest of the cabin crew, who were also "senior" flight attendants. It was a very enjoyable flight.

2
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