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Could a Policy Change at American Airlines Mean the World’s Oldest Serving Flight Attendant Finally Has to Hang Up Her Wings For Good?

Could a Policy Change at American Airlines Mean the World’s Oldest Serving Flight Attendant Finally Has to Hang Up Her Wings For Good?

A major change in policy at American Airlines could be the end of the road for 86-year-old flight attendant Bette Nash who holds the Guinness World Record as the oldest flight attendant in the world and the longest-ever serving flight attendant.

Having been flying for more than 65 years, Bette’s career has outlasted 12 Presidents, but it may soon come the time for AA’s #1 most senior flight attendant to finally hang up her wings.

Markus Mainka /

After six decades in the business, the spritely octogenarian understandably doesn’t do a huge amount of flying nowadays, and she’s normally found operating the short hop between her base in Boston and Washington DC.

In fact, Bette’s presence on the early morning service is so routine that the flight has been affectionately dubbed the “Nash Dash”.

The roughly one-hour flight is operated on an Airbus A319 – the smallest aircraft in the American Airlines fleet with a capacity for 128 passengers. Bette is understood to be solely trained on AA’s Airbus fleet as she doesn’t operate long-haul flights anymore.

But by the end of 2023, American Airlines will require all of its flight attendants to be trained on all aircraft types in the fleet. As well as Airbus A320 series aircraft, American Airlines also operates single-aisle Boeing 737 aircraft, along with widebody Boeing 777s and 787 Dreamliners.

In terms of operational resilience, this policy change makes sense and compared to many other carriers, this isn’t anything new. However, it’s been difficult for an airline like American, with lots of senior crew who joined the carrier from various mergers and acquisitions, to standardise aircraft qualifications.

At long last, American Airlines is setting a deadline to change that, but as aviation insider JonNYC notes, this could “be the end of the road for some extremely senior FAs [flight attendants] if they need to get 777/787 trained.”

According to JonNYC, crew bases that serve so-called ‘international premium destinations’ will be the first to require all flight attendants to be trained across all aircraft types, while non-IPD bases will be required to meet the new standard by the end of 2023.

Along with learning safety and emergency drills for all aircraft types, flight attendants will also need to be trained in different inflight service routines.

Of course, there’s nothing to stop very senior flight attendants from going through this training, but whether they would want to is, perhaps, another matter altogether.

So, will Bette Nash also have to be cross-trained on all aircraft types? Could we see Bette working on long-haul flights again at some point in the future? We reached out to American Airlines but, unfortunately, their team wasn’t willing to discuss the matter.

View Comments (5)
  • They keep reminding us of the superhuman powers they possess to rescue people……there is an absolute ZERO chance of her providing any meaningful assistance during an emergency.

    • Precisely. Their shiuld be a mandatory retirement age for flight attendants. Many US carriers have FA’s that are too lazy, old, or fat to be competent at serving drinks, let alone coordinating an emergency

      • Well, there are plenty of the young one’s that are too consumed with their Social Media and electronic devices that even getting their attention and dealing with their rudeness and blatant disregard for policies and procedures will really change your opinion. Trust Me, I know…..been a Crew Member many years and the Gen X’ers suck in many areas.

        • Have you been doing hard time? There’s Gen Xers in their late 50s now. Heck, there are Millenials in their late 30s early 40s. I don’t think I will trust you….. There are good and bad in every generation. Yes, there are safety concerns. And yes some people are on their phones too much. In general, crew members at every airline work a difficult customer service job and I’m thankful that the vast majority do their jobs in an outstanding manner. Trust me. I’m an airline captain.

  • I am actually quite shocked that AA doesn’t already require this. I fly for a network competitor operating a large and diverse aircraft fleet. At our annual recurrent emergency training we train on all the different doors types that reflect each aircraft type in the fleet. We practice shouting our commands to evacuate at each door type as well as at the different types of over wing window exits as they vary between Airbus and Boeing.

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