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Meet the world's oldest flight attendant

Easyvoyage logo Easyvoyage 28-12-2016 The editorial team

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Bette Nash has spent almost six decades at 30,000 feet. The 80-year-old flight attendant, who will turn 81 on New Year's Eve, works for American Airlines and could just be the oldest serving air hostess in the world.

She flies American Airlines' route from Washington National to Boston Logan, looking after first-class cabin customers, many of whom are good friends. She says one of the biggest things she's learnt from her job is that people need love and attention, something she says she can give them for free.

"I love my people. I know my customers. I know what they want," she told CNN earlier this year. "The airline thinks names are important, but I think people's needs are very important. Everybody wants a little love."

Bette began her career as a flight attendant back in November 1957. After studying for a college degree, she decided to follow her childhood dream and applied for a job with Eastern Airlines.

She says it was the romance and respectability of the role that initially attracted her. "I wanted to be a flight attendant from the time I got on the first airplane - I was 16 years old, I was sitting with my mother on a green leather couch at Washington [Reagan National Airport], and this crew came up from TWA," she said.

"The pilot and the flight attendant walked across the hall and I thought 'oh my God,' and I said that was for me."

Much has changed in the world of aviation since she began flying 60 years ago. Planes have transformed from places of luxury, the exclusive domain of the rich dressed to the nines and served three-course meals, to a service which is accessible to the majority.

Nash has lived through all those changes, as well as the uniforms that went with them. Gone are the days of white-gloved stewardesses, beautified and sent off to 'Charm School', even the 70s-style short dresses and bold colours.

"At one point, we even went to hot pants. We had the hot pants, the go-go boots, a turtleneck shirt that came up to here and buttoned underneath. After that, then things started calming down a little bit," she recalls.

But Bette says the change she struggled with most was new technology. Paper manuals and hand-written flight times have been replaced with tablets and computer screens, a challenge which Bette says made her think about quitting.

"Technology really made the difference of, 'Am I going to stay or am I going to go?' But even when I think I might retire or something, then I come to work and think, 'Oh, I couldn't do that.' It's stimulating coming out here," she said. "The airlines are evolving continuously, and you have to evolve with them."

Let's hope she's taking to the skies for many more years to come.

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In pics: Golden age of air travel
circa 1965: Flight crew serving food and beverages to passengers aboard an airplane, 1960s. (Photo by R. Gates/Hulton Archive/Getty Images) Golden age of air travel


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