If all his travel miles counted, 83-year-old Ron Akana would have racked up 200 million frequent flier miles. Alas, it is not the case for him; as it turns out, flight attendants don’t get credit for work miles, but they can qualify for the Guinness World Records book. With his final flight shift, a Denver to Kauai, Hawaii flight, a record-breaking 63-year career as a flight attendant has ended. That’s right, Ron Akana is the longest-tenured flight attendant in world history.
“We didn’t even know what a flight steward was,” admitted Akana, who got his job with United in 1949 while a student at the University of Hawaii. ”But it meant getting to the mainland, which was a huge deal in those days. It seemed pretty exciting and it proved to be more than that.” There was a second reason Akana liked the job: ”We just liked working with girls.”
But don’t think Akana, one of United’s first male flight attendants, is going to rest easy in his retirement. The frequent flier has plans… traveling plans. Akana, a Korean War veteran, plans on traveling with his wife, Elizabeth. He will get to see United’s new Boeing 787 fleet from the passenger seats: no more angry passengers, crying babies, or fist fights to deal with.
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