Eighty three year old Ron Akana is believed to be the longest serving flight attendant in the United States.
RA: In 1949, United was looking for some stewards.
I showed up along with four hundred applicants and we applied for eight positions.
I looked around and thought, I’ll never get this job.
There’s four hundred other guys, half of them had coats and ties, all I had was an Aloha shirt.
My name is Ron Akana and I’ve been with United for sixty –three years.
I’m number one in seniority in United and I enjoy it.
I’ve flown probably an excess of ten to fifteen million miles.
This was the uniform that we first had.
This is me up in this corner here.
He was one of the first male stewards to work steadily at Boeing Stratocruiser which was built in the 1940’s and featured a bar on the lower deck.
RA: I’ve had many of the Hollywood people on board abroad.
Who cast the “From Here to Eternity”, Burt Lancaster, Frank Sinatra, Montgomery Clifft.
Burt Lancaster had twelve or thirteen martinis then came and bartended with me as if he hadn’t had one.
I mean this guy was tough, you know, genuine tough guy, I think.
Seniority in the airlines gives flight attendants the power to choose their schedules.
These days Mr. Akana chooses to fly the Denver - Hawaii route, which gives him a chance to visit his childhood home.
A decade ago, he was among the highest paid flight attendants at United, earning a hundred and six thousand dollars in salary, pension, and social security.
He jokes that flying is how he earns his vacation money and he’s not quite ready to give up working but he has started to consider retirement.
RA: Aloha means, hello, goodbye, I love you, so in this case it’s goodbye.
Woman: And we’re gonna miss him, we’re gonna miss him.
RA: Makes me start to cry.
Woman: I know, we’re gonna miss him.