• Bette Nash, the world's longest-serving flight attendant, has died from cancer at age 88.
  • Nash started her career in 1957 with Eastern Airlines. 
  • She witnessed major changes in air travel, from the jet age to post-9/11 security measures.

The world's longest-serving flight attendant has died from cancer at the age of 88.

In a statement on X, formerly Twitter, American Airlines said: "We mourn the passing of Bette Nash, who spent nearly seven decades warmly caring for our customers in the air."

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

Nash never officially retired from her role with American Airlines. She died in hospice after a recent breast cancer diagnosis.

Bette Nash began her career as an Eastern Airlines stewardess in 1957. Foto: James M. Thresher/The The Washington Post via Getty Images

Nash got her first job as a flight attendant with Eastern Airlines — which later became American Airlines — in 1957, when Dwight D. Eisenhower was in the White House.

"You had to be a certain height, you had to be a certain weight. It used to be horrible. 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," Nash previously told ABC affiliate WJLA about the early days of her career.

She told ABC News in 2022 that a ticket for a flight between New York and Washington, DC, cost just $12 at the time, adding that passengers could even purchase life insurance from a vending machine before boarding their plane.

Bette Nash boarding her flight on November 9, 2017. Foto: The Washington Post/Getty Images

Over the course of her career, Nash saw huge changes to the aviation industry, including the effects of deregulation, the computer revolution, and the heightened security measures that came into effect following the September 11 terrorist attacks in 2001.

She also saw flying become increasingly accessible following a boom in commercial air travel in the 1950s.

By 1955, more people in the US traveled by air than by train, and by 1957, airplanes had also replaced ocean liners as the preferred means of crossing the Atlantic, according to the National Air and Space Museum.

A Douglas DC-8 at Amsterdam's Schiphol airport on March 13, 1985. Foto: Sepia Times/Getty Images

Just as Nash was starting out, jet passenger service also began in the US with the arrival of the Boeing 707 and Douglas DC-8 airliners.

"The jet engine revolutionized air travel. Powerful and durable, jets enabled aircraft manufacturers to build bigger, faster, and more productive airliners," the National Air and Space Museum says on its website, adding that almost half of all Americans had flown by 1972.

In an X statement, the Association of Professional Flight Attendants said Nash "touched many with her warmth, dedication, and service."

"RIP, Bette. You won't be forgotten," it added.

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