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Bette Nash, longest-serving flight attendant, dies at 88

Bette Nash celebrates her 60th anniversary as a flight attendant in 2017 with American Airlines chairman and chief executive officer Doug Parker. Nash, who was the longest-serving flight attendant in the world, died May 17 at the age of 88. Photo courtesy of American Airlines
Bette Nash celebrates her 60th anniversary as a flight attendant in 2017 with American Airlines chairman and chief executive officer Doug Parker. Nash, who was the longest-serving flight attendant in the world, died May 17 at the age of 88. Photo courtesy of American Airlines

May 27 (UPI) -- Bette Nash, who was named the world's longest-serving flight attendant by the Guinness World Records two years ago, has died at the age of 88.

"We mourn the passing of Bette Nash, who spent nearly seven decades warmly caring for our customers in the air," American Airlines, where Nash was employed, wrote in a statement over the weekend.

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"She started in 1957 and held the Guinness World Record for longest-serving flight attendant. Bette inspired generations of flight attendants. Fly high, Bette."

Nash, who was from Boston, started working as a flight attendant in 1957 for Eastern Airlines before it became part of American Airlines. She was named the longest-serving flight attendant in 2022 at the age of 86, and was also named the oldest flight attendant at the time.

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In 2017, told WJLA-TV that the job had changed over the decades.

"You had to be a certain height. You had to be a certain weight. It used to be horrible," Nash said. "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."

That same year, Nash celebrated her 60th anniversary with a party at Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport.

"I'm so pleased to be here in the terminal where I decided I wanted to be a flight attendant, and to be here celebrating my 60th anniversary still wanting to be a flight attendant means the world to me," Nash said. "My favorite part of flying over the years has been greeting my passengers as they board and deplane. People really are fascinating and it's truly been a joy."

Nash spent her entire career as a single mom on the New York-Boston-Washington shuttle in order to be home every night.

"I have my handicap son. I wanted to be home every night. It wasn't a choice for me," she said.

While Nash's career was uninterrupted, she said she almost lost her job in 1989 when Eastern Airlines discontinued the route. Her career was saved when the flight was picked up by Trump Shuttle, owned by Donald Trump, before that airline failed and the route eventually ended up back with American Airlines.

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On Saturday, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants paid tribute to Nash in a post on Facebook.

"Bette's remarkable career spanned over six decades, during which she touched countless lives with her warmth, dedication and unparalleled service," the Association of Professional Flight Attendants wrote.

"Her passion for flying and her commitment to her passengers were truly inspiring. Bette's legacy will forever be remembered in the aviation community and by all who had the privilege of knowing her."

Notable deaths of 2024

Jerry West
NBA legend Jerry West is presented with the Presidential Medal of Freedom by President Donald Trump at the White House in Washington on September 5, 2019. The Hall of Famer, who was the inspiration behind the NBA's logo, died at the age of 86 on June 12. Pool Photo by Tom Brenner/UPI | License Photo

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