Flight Attendant

Tūmau Waka Rererangi

Alternative titles for this job

Flight attendants make sure that passengers travelling in aeroplanes are safe and comfortable.

Pay

Flight attendants usually earn

$37K-$45K per year

Inflight service managers usually earn

$45K-$60K per year

Source: Air New Zealand, 2018.

Job opportunities

Chances of getting a job as a flight attendant are average because job numbers are increasing, but vacancies are mainly limited to Auckland and Christchurch.

Pay

Pay for flight attendants varies depending on whether they are working on domestic, trans-Tasman or international flights.

  • Flight attendants usually earn between minimum wage and $45,000 a year.
  • Inflight service managers can earn up to $60,000.

Flight attendants also get meal, accommodation, uniform and grooming allowances. Allowances are usually between $7,000 and $12,000 a year.

Source: Air New Zealand, 2018.

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our pay information)

What you will do

Flight attendants may do some or all of the following:

  • look after passengers 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
  • use their knowledge of first aid to help sick passengers.

Skills and knowledge

Flight attendants need to have:

  • knowledge of flight and emergency procedures
  • ability to operate emergency equipment, such as defibrillators
  • hospitality skills for serving food and drinks
  • strong customer service skills
  • first aid and medical skills
  • ability to assist people with special needs, such as young children or people with disabilities.

Working conditions

Flight attendants:

  • do shift work, including evenings, weekends and public holidays. International flight attendants may be rostered up to 18 hours a shift, and may spend many days away from home depending on where they are flying
  • work at altitude, often in cramped conditions
  • may work in conditions that are uncomfortable or dangerous, and may have to deal with stressful or difficult situations such as turbulence
  • travel locally or internationally.

What's the job really like?

Jacqui Chapman

Flight Attendant

Travelling for work has its perks

Jacqui Chapman 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 never have got the chance to see that otherwise.'

"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."

Flight steward video

Sarah Anderson talks about her career as a flight steward with the Royal NZ Air Force – 1.50 mins. (Video courtesy of Defence Careers)

Sarah: Welcome aboard, my name is Sergeant Sarah Anderson [and I’m] a flight steward in the Royal New Zealand Air Force.

I’ve always had a passion for wanting to travel the world and seeing different countries and cultures has always been something I’ve been interested in. I’ve had the opportunity to travel from my small hometown of Havelock to Antarctica, Dubai, Hawaii and up to Russia and Japan.

My most favourite place that I’ve been to is Antarctica and my first time there we were told there was penguins outside. So we raced outside and we realised that they weren’t real, it turns out there was three cardboard cut-outs. So that was kind of a bummer but still really, really cool.

My most favourite person that I’ve had the honour to serve is Prince Charles and Camilla. They came to New Zealand last year and we got to serve them and show them New Zealand.

Your roles and responsibilities as a flight attendant involve emergencies and how to deal with them, that’s our first and foremost responsibility, followed closely by customer service of our passengers.

It’s not 24/7, you can have your own life. For example, this weekend is duck-shooting weekend so I’m all ready to go for that. I am also in the pageant world. I have been able to represent New Zealand overseas in Singapore and Bangkok. I like it because I can be in the military and I can also experience the glitz and glamour of the pageant world.

It has been the best experience and I encourage anyone who wants to travel and get paid to do it to join that dotted line and come along and be in the Air Force.

Making new friends, travelling the world, and serving the country are my three passions. Choose yours below to find the career you love.

Entry requirements

There are no specific requirements to become a flight attendant. However, a New Zealand Certificate in Aviation (Flight Attendants) may be useful.

Once accepted for work on an airline, trainee flight attendants usually attend a training course and complete assessments before starting work. Each airline has its own training programme that helps flight attendants maintain and develop their skills and knowledge.

Secondary education

There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a flight attendant. However, languages and English are useful.

Personal requirements

Flight attendants need to be:

  • customer-focused and friendly
  • good communicators
  • able to relate to people from a range of cultures and backgrounds
  • responsible and professional
  • resilient and calm in stressful situations
  • able to work well in a team
  • organised, resourceful and alert.

Useful experience

Useful experience for flight attendants includes:

  • customer service
  • nursing
  • teaching
  • nannying
  • tourism or hospitality work
  • work in a travel agency
  • work that involves speaking another language.

Physical requirements

Depending on the airline, flight attendants may need to:

  • pass a lift and reach test, which usually requires flight attendants to be between 160 and 185 centimetres tall, and able to lift heavy bags and emergency equipment
  • pass a medical exam
  • be able to swim 50 metres unaided
  • have a certain standard of eyesight to carry out emergency procedures without glasses
  • have no visible body art or tattoos.

Find out more about training

New Zealand School of Tourism
0800 102 020 - www.nzschooloftourism.co.nz
Service IQ
0800 863 693 - intel@serviceiq.org.nz - www.serviceiq.org.nz
Check out related courses

What are the chances of getting a job?

Best opportunities for flight attendants in Auckland and Christchurch

Flight attendant numbers are expected to rise steadily through to 2021, with strong demand for flight attendants in Auckland and Christchurch.

This is because tourism is growing, so Air New Zealand – the main employer of flight attendants – is flying to more destinations. The organisation is expanding its fleets in Auckland and Christchurch, where New Zealand's largest domestic and international airports are based.

Outside these two locations, opportunities for flight attendants are poor.

Advantage if you speak more than one language

Being able to speak more than one language increases your chances of getting a job as a flight attendant.

Useful languages to know include:

  • Cantonese
  • Fijian
  • French
  • German
  • Japanese
  • Mandarin
  • Samoan
  • Spanish 
  • Tongan.

Air New Zealand key employer

Air New Zealand is the biggest employer of flight attendants.

Flight attendants may also work for other international airlines, or regional and corporate carriers. These include:

  • Jetstar
  • Qantas
  • the Royal NZ Air Force.

Sources

  • Air New Zealand, careers.govt.nz interview, May 2018.
  • Stats NZ, 'Annual Visitor Arrivals Up More than 1.2 Million in Five Years' (media release), 27 April 2018, (www.stats.govt.nz).

(This information is a guide only. Find out more about the sources of our job opportunities information)

Progression and specialisations

Flight attendants usually progress from working on domestic flights to working on international flights, or into 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.

A flight attendant secures an overhead storage container

Flight attendants greet passengers and help them stow their luggage safely

Last updated 14 September 2019