A New Zealand woman who worked as a flight attendant who had been groped by passengers has a blunt message to them:

"Keep your bloody hands to yourselves."

She worked for two airlines in her late teens and early 20s and had been grabbed by men on the second one she was with.

She asked that her identity and that of the airlines she worked with were witheld and said there was a big difference in the attitude of each.


One carrier had a "three second reflex rule" where if staff were touched inappropriately they could swat the culprit's hand away.

"It could be like a reflex action and that was quite good."

The woman said she was shocked at the difference between that and the second airline.

She was told there that if they were touched by some groups of men, attendants should smile and look the other way.

"I've had my thigh and my bum and everything grabbed - you feel pretty bad about it. You're in the middle of the cabin and people just look and they look away especially when the wife of the man who does it is just sitting there looking," she said.

"The women won't talk to you but their men will feel you - it's bizarre."

It didn't happen on every flight but it left her feeling bitter and was one of the main reasons she gave up the job.

Flight attendants for most airlines were all vulnerable to sexual harassment.

You're wearing a tight skirt and your arse is at eye level so I guess it puts you in a vulnerable position as it is

"You're wearing a tight skirt and your arse is at eye level so I guess it puts you in a vulnerable position as it is."

Another former flight attendant who worked for three years for an airline that flies here said she hadn't been harassed herself but was aware of the risks.

"I was lucky I guess."

She said flight attendants needed to be treated with respect. They were trained to keep passengers safe in case of medical emergencies or in an accident.

"There should be some level of respect. Some people looked at us as trolley dollies just serving food on the plane. Everyone, no matter what their title or job is should be respected."