Tūmau Waka Rererangi
Flight attendants make sure that passengers travelling in aeroplanes are safe and comfortable.
Flight attendants usually earn
$47K-$48K per year
Inflight service managers usually earn
$47K-$60K per year
Source: Air New Zealand, 2021.
Pay for flight attendants varies depending on whether they work on domestic, trans-Tasman or international flights.
- Flight attendants usually earn between minimum wage and $48,000 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, 2021.
- PAYE.net.nz website - use this calculator to convert pay and salary information
- Employment New Zealand website - information about minimum pay rates
(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.
- 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?
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)
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.
There are no specific requirements to become a flight attendant. However, a New Zealand Certificate in Aviation (Flight Attendants) Level 4 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.
- Air New Zealand website - information on becoming a flight attendant with Air New Zealand
- Jetstar website - information on careers with Jetstar
- ServiceIQ website - information on the New Zealand Certificate in Aviation (Flight Attendants)
There are no specific secondary education requirements to become a flight attendant. However, languages and English are useful.
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 for flight attendants includes:
- customer service
- tourism or hospitality work
- work in a travel agency
- work that involves speaking another language.
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 under 2 minutes unaided
- have a certain standard of eyesight to carry out emergency procedures without glasses.
Find out more about training
- New Zealand School of Tourism
- 0800 102 020 - www.nzschooloftourism.co.nz
- Service IQ
- 0800 863 693 - firstname.lastname@example.org - www.serviceiq.org.nz
What are the chances of getting a job?
COVID-19 pandemic decreases demand for flight attendants
Job opportunities for flight attendants are poor because the COVID-19 pandemic caused a major reduction in passenger flights. As a result, Air New Zealand – the largest employer of flight attendants in the country – had to make over 1,300 cabin crew (flight attendants) redundant in 2020.
Some affected staff have had the option to freeze their employment agreement (furlough) and be hired back when demand picks up. This could make it harder for new flight attendants to enter the role.
Air New Zealand predicts that it could take years to get back to its previous staffing levels due to the fall in demand for:
- international flights, which previously made up two-thirds of its profits
- domestic flights from the 1.5 million international tourists who previously visited New Zealand each year.
According to the Census, 3,015 flight attendants worked in New Zealand in 2018.
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:
Air New Zealand key employer
Air New Zealand is the biggest employer of flight attendants.
Flight attendants may also work for:
- the Royal NZ Air Force.
- Air New Zealand, careers.govt.nz interview, Jan 2021.
- Bradley, G, 'COVID-19 Coronavirus: Air New Zealand Slashes Jobs, Greg Foran Lays it on the Line', 31 March 2020, (www.nzherald.co.nz).
- Newshub, 'Air New Zealand Cabin Crew Given Option of Furlough', 21 May 2020, (www.newshub.co.nz).
- Radio NZ, 'COVID-19: Air New Zealand to Start Cutting Staff After Revenue Slashed', 31 March 2020, (www.rnz.co.nz).
- Stats NZ, '2018 Census Data', 2019.
(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.
Last updated 4 April 2023