Description American Airlines flight attendant service lapel pin belonging to Betty Ann Ong. The pin features the American Airlines emblem inlaid in black against gold with a small diamond stone below the talons of the eagle.
Historical Notes A native of San Francisco, California, Betty Ong lived in Andover, Massachusetts. She was known for a distinctive laugh that she punctuated by slapping her knees. During her 14 years with American Airlines, Betty rose to the position of head flight attendant. Working on board Flight 11 on September 11, Betty telephoned authorities on the ground to tell them a hijacking was under way. She was 45 years old.
Curator's Comment American Airlines flight attendant Betty Ong usually served in a senior supervisory role in the first-class section of the aircraft in which she worked. However, on the morning of September 11, 2001, Ong was working an extra flight and was stationed in the rear galley of the Los Angeles bound Flight 11 as it departed from Boston’s Logan International Airport. Minutes after the flight was hijacked, Ong used an Air-fone to place a call to American Airlines ground personnel. She remained on the phone for about 25 minutes, relaying information about the hijackers’ actions until they intentionally crashed the Boeing 767 into the North Tower of the World Trade Center at 8:46 a.m.
Ong’s telephone call alerted the nation to the unfolding hijackings. With the aid of several of her crewmates, she relayed the perpetrators’ seat assignments, enabling authorities to determine their identities. Although she knew that a passenger had been killed and that two flight attendants in first class had been stabbed, Ong’s voice remained professional and focused throughout the ordeal.
Ong’s family found an extra uniform coat and a duplicate set of American Airlines flight attendant wings at her Andover, Massachusetts, apartment. They donated the coat, wings pin, and a recording of Ong’s historic telephone call from the hijacked plane to the 9/11 Memorial Museum. HIDE