Oldest Active Flight Attendant Turns 90

In terms of generally awesome things, the oldest active flight attendant turned 90 on Thursday. Via A Fly Guy’s Cabin Crew Lounge, Bob Reardon has been flying for Delta/Northwest for 63 years.



Filed Under: Delta
  1. I have flown with him several times on transpacific NW 747 flights to Japan. Nice guy. Hadn’t seen him since the merger, though. One of the lady FAs told me that when he dies, he hoped it was somewhere overseas so that Northwest would have to return his body home, LOL.

  2. I don’t want to sound like a curmudgeon, but this scares me a bit. Does Delta put an extra person on his flights to help, in case safety stuff needs to happen? Like pushing and pulling on emergency exits, or rushing people to slides?

  3. Congratulation to this older gent,he must love his job.
    I would feel so bad having him serving me the whole time, it is like asking your grandpa to bring some wine to you.
    I had on several occasion have over 70 years old FA and not sure if they will good for emergency situation.

  4. This shows just how in need of a overhaul the flight attendant position needs.

    I say this as a new-ish pilot at a major airline who has seen way to many F/A’s who are unable to do their main job over my first year on the line.

    F/A’s main reason for being there is to safely help passengers exit the plane in case of an emergency, period. And yet there is no current test or review in place to ensure that they can do that job.

    The Miracle on the Hudson flight showed us just how vital this position can be when it comes to passenger safety.

    I’m not one of these guys who thinks they should all be hot 23 year old’s al la Pan Am days. But the ability to not only exit q burning/smokey/in the water aircraft, but to assist the 100-400 passengers first, is the only job requirement.

    And yet, I have seen countless F/A’s who I do not feel are physically capable of completing this task. This man, bless him, is a perfect example. If there is a cabin fire on a 747, do you trust him with taking control of the situation and safely helping you to a emergency slide to safety, or would his presences become a liability?

    There needs to be a physical test, there needs to be a age limit.

  5. If a pilot gets older and his health deteriorates even an inch they kick him out of his job no matter how much he loves flying. Flight Attendants are allowed to work unlimited with almost no checkups and irrespective of their attitude. I’m not saying that FAs are equally important as pilots but for a group that constantly cries out ‘We are here primarily for your safety’ this approach seems to be on very shaky grounds IMHO.

    He seems to be an awesome guy who loves his job and has dedicated his life to it but as far as the function of a crew member goes I would be willing to bet that he can not physically fulfill the required duties in an emergency situation. And that’s not even his fault. Everyone gets old – but there is a time when you have to quit. I actually find it scandalous that Delta let’s employees work this long (I’m sure he also earns a pretty penny!).

  6. Well, I think this undermines the notion that FAs are there primarily for passenger safety!

  7. i actually trust that this guy has seen it all and would want him to be part of any team responding to an emergency. The physical labor is a minor part of the job… as we have seen in countless aviation stories… it’s the communication and leadership that counts! Congrats to him!

  8. I think the same way as many of you. However, flight attendants go through an annual recurrent training where they are test on drills, evacuations, emergencies, etc. If he can pass these year after year, he must still have it. – Hard to imagine, but if he does then all the power to him. I agree, I’d feel bad for him serving me for a 15 hour flight!

  9. Wonder if he’s still working because he’s financially unable to retire? DL FAs have no pensions irrespective of the number of years of service and, last I heard, their pay was below industry average.

  10. Actually as nice as this sounds for him turning 90 years old it is also a TRAGIC statement on how little FA’s are paid and how they have NOTHING to retire on these days and NEED to work to make ends meet. Just flew from SYD-SFO in First and honestly the FA I had was in his late 70’s (possibly 80’s) and was with out a doubt suffering from senility. He couldn’t remember a single drink order and placed 3 place setting on my table. The other younger FA kept covering for him. It was actually a sad statement on United.

  11. No, he doesn’t need to be working at this age, and no, it’s not really good for anyone. He’s doing it because he wants to (in that sense it’s good for him) and because FAs are untouchable on US airlines.

  12. He has to take annual recertification training just like every other US Based flight attendant. This includes FAA required evacuation drills. Clearly he passes em. So to answer everyone who keeps saying “there needs to be a physical test,” there is. All he has to do is open those exits and yell at you to get your fat ass off the plane, he isn’t required to pick anyone up and carry them off.

  13. I remember reading that he usually only flies long haul flights. If that’s the case, those flights are usually staffed by more than the FAA minimums.

  14. I want to say he was already in his 80s the last time I saw him. At that time he looked perfectly fine. He gave an interview IIRC saying he was hired in the Northwest days back when they had a poker room (or was it a bar?) on the planes and needed a strong man to keep control. I mean, 90 is 90, but he appeared stronger than the average bear in his 80s so…He also said at that time that he loved flying and wanted to work as long as he was allowed. I don’t think it’s all about money. I was wondering if he’d passed away, so it’s amazing to see he’s still going strong. I think he’s trying to be an inspiration so good on him.

  15. Only things older than the equipment that Northwest and Delta flew were the flight attendants on board. Rumor has it they are the original F/A’s who were pulling boarding passes at Kitty Hawk snarking “Second Cabin” and “You can’t bring that on board, you’ll need to check it at the gate.” And they’re still flying today. Amazing what JP4 and Duck Tape can do for both an aging DC9 and an aging space waitress.

  16. I would love to have Bob as my flight attendant..I was cabin crew for EAL,CAL,and now UAL..and would be thrilled to work with him! What an amazing journey!

  17. Per Bob’s Facebook page, he is retiring Aug. 30, 2014, “not of his choosing”. There are no plans of a company celebration for the world’s oldest and longest serving flight attendant of 62 years and 11 months. He started with Northwest Orient on October 1, 1951 and has been flying full-time since, normally three times a month roundtrip between Minneapolis and Tokyo. Bob reportedly did not have an official celebratory last flight, common among retiring flight attendants and pilots.


  18. I beg to differ! I work for Delta as a pilot. The flight attendants have recurrent training every nine months under the AQP (advanced qualification program). They must pass every test or they are subject to more training or finding another job. Just like the pilots.

  19. Flew with Bob back in 1968 – 1976 and he would put on a new shirt at least once a flight to be fresh for the First Class Service. Hard worker and I heard he made 6-figures with SS and the best Purser routes with that extra pay. Great guy that never married so that shows he was smart too.

  20. Why does everyone automatically assume he can’t do the job.I have see overweight pilots and flight attendants that couldn’t get out of a revolving door without gps or a guide dog.
    Is this the only area where discrimination is encouraged.He looks great and should sue for age discrimination or maybe waddle when he walks through the cabin.

  21. What is to moderate,I am saying the posts or some of them were discriminatory with respect to his age,that if he couldn’t walk properly it would be age; but he can

  22. Hey you age racist people. I rather fly with experienced crew than with these Chewingum-iPhone-Facebook-Instagram generation wanna-be FA`s.
    Good that long-haul aircrafts are big and all wanna-be`s can stay in Y and experienced FA`s with style in F and C.

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