American Airlines’ longest-serving flight attendant has taken her last ever journey in the role as she steps down after a staggering 53 years.
Barbara Beckett, 72, took her last flight with American Airlines on Monday. The airline threw her a retirement party before she boarded her last flight to London Heathrow from Miami. She was given a cake with her picture and a thank you message for her service, the Daily Mail reports.
She returned from London back to Miami on Wednesday as she lives in Florida. After more than five decades with the company, Beckett is now retired.
“I love the people and the job,” Beckett said. “On those airplanes, we’re all family.”
Throughout her long career, she watched the airline industry change. She saw aircrafts get bigger and women’s right broaden. When she first started, she faced a weight and age requirement and flight attendants were also supposed to be single.
“If I weighed 130 pounds, they would put me on a scale every time I reported to work,’ said Beckett, who weighed 118 pounds for years. “They put the fear of God into you until you lost the weight.”
In the 1980’s, the no marriage rule ended and the weight limit stopped in the 1990’s.
Beckett graduated flight attendant training on July 29, 1960. She remembers the exact moment that she knew she wanted to become a flight attendant.
“My parents took me to the airport in Baltimore, and I saw the stewardesses coming off the airplane, and I thought, ‘I would really like to do that, they’re absolutely beautiful'” she told NBC Miami. “It was an American Airlines flight.”
During her career, Beckett worked on more than 8,000 American Airlines flights. She often flew around the world and went to places such as Hawaii, Japan and Argentina.
In her long time with the airline, Beckett has a lot of interesting stories to tell.
“I’ve had passengers who were close to having a birth on the plane. I’ve had heart attacks, strokes, a seizure,” she said.
Beckett’s longtime partner, her colleagues and friends, and some passengers wished her well at the gate before her Heathrow flight. Beckett said the first thing she wants to do once she retires is travel – but she and her partner joked that she will be grounded for a while before booking a trip to Hawaii.