Bothwell stewardess who survived hijacking retires from the skies

Charmaine McCall-Hagan, one of the UK's longest-serving cabin crew who has flown her final flight after a career spanning more than 44 years. Pic: Loganair/PA Wire
Charmaine McCall-Hagan, one of the UK's longest-serving cabin crew who has flown her final flight after a career spanning more than 44 years. Pic: Loganair/PA Wire

One of the UK’s longest-serving cabin crew has flown her final flight after a career spanning more than 44 years.

Charmaine McCall-Hagan (65) from Bothwell completed her final flight on Friday on a Loganair service from Shetland to Edinburgh.

She started her career in 1973 at the age of 21 with British Airways with her first flight to Belfast.

It was on the Belfast route that she met her husband, now retired pilot Captain Bill Hagan, who earned fame for saving the lives of 400 passengers after a hijacking attempt on a British Airways 747 bound for Nairobi, Kenya in 2000.

A male Kenyan passenger stormed the flight deck, sending the jumbo jet into a 10,000ft nosedive, with Mr Hagan having to resort to sticking his finger in the hijacker’s eye to neutralise him.

Mrs McCall-Hagan said: “I was on board with the children and Bill was flying the aircraft. I wouldn’t like to do it again.

“Afterwards we said it was like winning the lottery because we survived it.

“It wasn’t nice and it’s a shame because when you hear about plane crashes the passengers know they are going down and it’s not pleasant at all.”

Mrs McCall-Hagan’s aviation career was primarily spent in Scotland, apart from six years when she worked with British Airways’ long-haul fleet travelling to destinations in the US and Africa.

The mother-of-two has looked after many well-known passengers during her extensive career including George Best, Prince Andrew and Princess Anne.

She joined Loganair in 2011 and the Scottish regional airline marked her departure by holding an informal ceremony in Sumburgh Airport’s departure lounge and announcing to passengers it would be her final flight.

Mrs McCall-Hagan said: “I’ve had a fantastic career and when you think about it I can’t go on forever - I must be the oldest stewardess in Britain. I’m just embarrassed about all the fuss.

“I’ve had a great time from start to finish. We own a boat in Largs so I could be swapping the skies for the ocean.”

Jonathan Hinkles, Loganair’s managing director said: “Congratulations to Charmaine on her well-deserved retirement.

“It’s extremely fitting for her to finish a long and successful career with Loganair, operating routes across the Highlands and Islands as she began her flying life 44-years ago.”

Orkney Islands MSP Liam McArthur submitted a motion to the Scottish parliament to mark Mrs McCall-Hagan’s retiral.

It read: “The Parliament acknowledges the exemplary dedication and professionalism that Charmaine has displayed towards her work; believes that regular passengers on Loganair’s routes will miss the unfailingly cheery demeanour that has been the hallmark of Charmaine’s approach to her work over the years, and warmly wishes her all the best with her retirement.”