Flight Attendant - About the job
Tūmau Waka RererangiAlternative titles
Flight attendants make sure that passengers travelling in aeroplanes are safe and comfortable.
Flight attendants usually earn
$30K-$45K per year
Source: Air New Zealand
Current job prospects
How many people are doing this job?
Source: Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupation Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
New flight attendants typically earn between $31,000 and $35,000 a year, depending on whether they are working on domestic, trans-Tasman or international flights.
- With five or more years' experience, flight attendants can expect to earn $40,000 to $45,000, plus allowances.
- Flight service managers can earn $60,000 or more.
Flight attendants receive discounted travel benefits, and may also get meal, accommodation, uniforms and grooming allowances. Allowances increase as flight attendants gain more senior positions, and may be worth more than $15,000 a year.
Source: Air New Zealand
- MoreBusiness.com website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment website - information about minimum pay rates
(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the figures and diagrams in our job information)
What you will do
Flight attendants may do some or all of the following:
- look after passengers' comforts, needs and safety during flights
- check emergency and safety equipment before each flight
- prepare and check the catering, bar and cabin before each flight
- greet passengers, help them stow their luggage and check that they are seated safely
- demonstrate aircraft emergency procedures and safety features to passengers
- serve and clear away food and drinks
- hand out, and help passengers complete arrival documentation on international flights
- keep in contact with other members of the flight crew
- use their knowledge of first aid to help sick passengers.
Skills and knowledge
Flight attendants need to have:
- knowledge of flight and emergency procedures
- the ability to operate emergency equipment
- hospitality skills for serving food and drinks
- first-aid and medical skills
- the ability to assist people with special needs, such as young children or people with disabilities
- the ability to give tourists tips and guidance on their stay in New Zealand.
- may work on a temporary basis, part time or full time, and work shifts including evenings, public holidays and weekends, which may involve crossing time zones
- work at altitude, often in cramped conditions, spending a lot of time on their feet
- work in conditions which can be uncomfortable or dangerous, and may have to deal with stressful or difficult situations
- may be rostered up to 18 hours a shift, and may spend up to 10 to 18 days away from home, depending on whether they are working domestically or internationally.
What's the job really like?
Jacqui Chapman - Flight Attendant
Jacqui thrives on the constant travel involved in her job as a flight attendant. "Many times when I've been in Wellington and there's an exhibition at Te Papa, I've thought, 'I would have never otherwise got the chance to see that'.
"If you do a six-day trip, you build up a rapport with the people you've worked with, and then you might have the opportunity to go to a Robbie Williams concert in Brisbane with four or five work buddies – it's great!"
Physical effects of working at high altitude
"This job does take a toll on your body and sleep. You need to be more proactive about your diet and sleeping habits than you normally would. So, I find out where I can buy fresh food at each stopover. You just have to be a little creative."
Watching others develop
Jacqui has moved up to the role of cabin supervisor, and helps train staff. "Sometimes I work with people who are shy, so I really enjoy seeing them gain confidence. It's not just about building up your own skills. You get an intrinsic reward from helping someone else out, and seeing them develop."
- Enjoying the romance of travel.
- Socialising with workmates in exotic locations.
- The physical effects of working at altitude.
- Having to be vigilant about keeping good sleeping and eating habits.
To become a flight attendant you must:
- be a New Zealand resident
- be at least 18 years old
- hold a current first aid certificate
- hold a current passport without restrictions
- pass aviation security clearance checks.
Individual airlines may have additional entry requirements. For instance, some airlines have height restrictions or require flight attendants to be able to swim at least 50 metres. Most airlines require prospective flight attendants to be assessed as part of the interview process or complete a pre-employment training course.
Once accepted for work on an airline, trainee flight attendants attend a training course and complete assessments before starting work as flight attendants. Each airline has its own training programme that helps flight attendants maintain and develop their skills and knowledge on the job. Some airlines incorporate training into each staff meeting, while others require staff to take part in an annual refresher course.
Flight attendants usually need to have a minimum of three years' secondary education. It is also useful for flight attendants to be fluent in another language such as:
Flight attendants need to be:
- customer-focused and friendly
- good communicators who can interact well with people from a range of cultures
- responsible, practical, and professional
- able to work well in a team
- efficient, organised, resourceful and alert.
Useful experience for flight attendants includes:
- customer-service work
- tourism or hospitality work
- restaurant or catering work
- work as a nanny
- travel agency work.
Depending on the airline, flight attendants may need to:
- be between 160cm and 185cm tall
- pass a reach test and medical exam
- have a certain standard of eyesight in order to carry out emergency procedures without glasses
- be able to swim 50m unaided
- be reasonably strong because they may have to lift heavy bags and emergency equipment.
Find out more about training
- Air New Zealand Aviation Institute
- 09 255 5701 - firstname.lastname@example.org
- Service IQ
- 0800 863 693 - www.serviceiq.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
Air New Zealand biggest employers of flight attendants
Air New Zealand is the single biggest employer of flight attendants. Most years the airline conducts recruitment drives and take on new staff.
A growing fleet and expanding flight routes means Air New Zealand expects flight attendant numbers to increase over the next five years.
Increasing tourism numbers sees demand for flight attendants rise
Opportunities for flight attendants are heavily influenced by the number of international visitors to New Zealand. Visitor numbers reached a record 2.8 million in the year to July 2014, a 5.8% increase on the previous year, according to Statistics New Zealand. The Ministry of Tourism expects the industry to keep growing, reaching almost 3 million visitors a year by late 2015.
Speaking a second language will increase your chances of getting a job as a flight attendant.
Air New Zealand is the largest employer
Most flight attendants work for Air New Zealand. There are also opportunities with other international airlines, or regional and corporate carriers. These include:
- Jetconnect (Qantas subsidiary that flies trans-Tasman and international routes from New Zealand)
- Virgin Pacific (flies trans-Tasman and New Zealand to Asia flights).
- Centre for Aviation, 'Air New Zealand 2014 Outlook: Long-Haul Expansion Continues as 787-9s and 777-300s are Delivered', September 2014.
- E, Holley, Air New Zealand human resources, Careers New Zealand interview, September 2014.
- Ministry of Business, Innovation and Employment, '2003-2012 Occupational Data' (prepared for Careers New Zealand), 2012.
- Statistics New Zealand, 'International Visitor Numbers to New Zealand: 2014', accessed April 2014.
Progression and specialisations
Flight attendants may work on short-haul (to destinations no more than four hours away) or long-haul (international) flights. They may work up from domestic flight work to senior roles such as lead flight attendant or purser. They may also choose to transfer to ground-based jobs such as check-in agent, or customer service roles.
Last updated 9 February 2016