Air New Zealand’s dodgy cabin crew manual

ANZ crew.jpgAir New Zealand has had a weekend to forget after having to apologise for the racial profiling of some of its customers in a 2008 cabin crew manual. The airline says that the manual has since been “updated”.

But among the more controversial aspects of the old manual, which the Sunday Star Times wrote about, are advice that Tongans will “drink the bar dry”, and that the female Japanese customer needs a male customer to answer on her behalf.

There are some funny things too – it helpfully advises its cabin crew that “chipped nail polish is unattractive” and “fragrance and body sprays can be attractive when used in moderation”. Hmmm, if the crew don’t already know that, ANZ has bigger problems that its dodgy manual!

Two bits of stomach-churning advice for its staff were “we want you to be you, not someone else” and “feel natural, so accentuate your good points and don’t overdo what you don’t need.”

Every airline has its cabin crew manual but this one takes it a little bit too far (and puts in black and white what is passed down by word of mouth), or am I being simply naive here? Anyone out there knows how other airlines do this?

In any case, here is a selection of some of Air New Zealand’s suggestions and expectations:


“A little bit of sparkle is good, a lot is a distraction.”


“You may find it helpful to wear a pedometer, which will measure how many steps you are taking each day and hence give you a measure of how active you are and can aim to be.”


“Make the most of your features and be confident that you’re looking your best.”


“Cleansing each night is important to help prevent clogged pores and allow your skin to breathe.”

“Chipped nail polish is unattractive.”

“Fragrance and body sprays can be attractive when used in moderation.”

“Sleep – in a peaceful environment – is a key factor in preventing puffy eyes and dull skin.”

“While on duty regularly use mouth freshener, breath spray or mints to maintain fresh breath.”


“Adopt a concerned body posture, voice tone and facial expression.”


Koreans: Expect good manners and patience from crew.

Japanese: Expect reading material, water with meal. “Do not be surprised if you ask a Japanese female a question and a male customer answers on her behalf.”

Chinese: Mainland Chinese aren’t fussy. Hong Kong Chinese are extremely demanding.

Tongans: There is “no need to shout at customer” as “they tend to be a softly-spoken, reserved people”. Watch out though: “As alcohol is free on board a lot will be trying to drink the bar dry.” Also “many young Tongan males look older than their actual age; if unsure ask for ID. This will not offend them.”

Samoans: Coming from a tropical climate, they greatly appreciate rugs.


3 Responses to Air New Zealand’s dodgy cabin crew manual

  1. Dan Bockner 27 March, 2010 at 1:31 am #

    I come from a cold climate yet I too greatly appreciate rugs.

  2. Siva Govindasamy 29 March, 2010 at 9:55 am #

    My problem is that I simply don’t get what they are trying to say about the rugs!

  3. ניר ברקת 2 October, 2013 at 10:54 am #

    Normally I do not read article on blogs, but I would like to say that this write-up very pressured me to try and do so! Your writing taste has been surprised me. Thanks, quite great article.

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