New manual rules the air for trolley dollies

16:00, Mar 20 2010

NEVER SAY "bun", don't wear blue eyeshadow, pluck your monobrow, trim your nasal hair, stand up straight, use deodorant, and on no account put more than six teabags in the pot.

Got that? Then you too can be an Air New Zealand trolley dolly.

But you'll also need to familiarise yourself with hundreds of pages of dos, don'ts, rules and regulations that govern the lives of cabin crew.

The airline has this month released new manuals for flight crew so detailed they even cover where to buy armpit "sweat pads" for excessive perspirers, the need to avoid garlicky food, and how "sparkly, shimmery disco-type eyeshadow" is a fashion faux pas.

Not since the days when stewardesses on National Airways Corporation flights clung to the backs of seats during turbulence because they were forbidden from sitting down has a Kiwi airline gone to such lengths about the grooming, deportment and duties of its cabin crews.

Helpfully, the manuals also include cultural profiles of passengers, noting that Koreans will expect good manners, Tongans will want to drink the inflight bar dry and not be shouted at, Thais will expect a souvenir from the airline and Samoans will appreciate a rug because it's hot where they come from.


As for cabin crew being banned from using "terms like bun" when serving passengers, the reasoning is something of a mystery. Perhaps it's too easily confused with "bum", but whatever the reason staff must instead describe the different varieties of bread on offer.

Similarly wine must never be referred to as "red" or "white" (instead the grape variety must be named); napkins must be placed so the Air New Zealand logo faces the customer; and glasses must never be passed to a customer upside-down on a can of soft drink.

While Air New Zealand prides itself on having particularly well turned-out cabin crew, it is understood some staff have found the tone of the latest additions to the manuals rather patronising, particularly in the grooming section where the most personal of advice is proffered.

"We want you to be you, not someone else," it gushes in a tone reminiscent of a guide for 1950s housewives. "Feel natural, so accentuate your good points and don't overdo what you don't need."

Female staff are then told to "always pluck the hair between the brows", and that "blending is the key to natural looking make-up".

On the unacceptable list is too much make-up, no make-up, blue or pink eyeshadow, bright red, pink, purple or orange lipstick, unnatural looking tans, scaly hands and smelly breath.

Unacceptable in the hair department are fringes that conceal eyebrows, excessive frosting, obvious hair extensions, towelling elastic bands or bands with a metal joint.

Male staff get similarly precise advice. They are told to cleanse their skin daily "to keep it looking its best" and to clean-shave neck hair. Pilots can't have beards (for safety reasons, apparently) and goatees must be trimmed 1.5cm past the corner of the mouth. Lips must be clearly visible. Ear and nose hair must be trimmed but in a concession to modern fashion, men are allowed to wear one solid bangle – though not earrings.

For unexpected delays staff are advised to have fruit, packets or soup or instant noodles nearby. Failing that there might be a leftover bun.



"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.

Sunday Star Times