Redefining In-Flight Catering

Corporate Flight Attendant – Elrina Retief

Today we have the pleasure to bring you an exciting interview with Elrina Retief, a corporate flight attendant based in Johannesburg. Get to know more about her and valuable tips based on her experiences in the article below.

Which aircraft have you flown on during your career?

  • MD80-Africa Charter Airlines
  • DC-9
  • 737-200
  • Embraer120

Where did you receive flight attendant training?

Big Sky Cabin Training Academy

When was your last recurrent?

June 2015

What is your base location and ICAO(s)?

At Denel in O.R. Tambo Airport-Johannesburg International (FAOR)

How long have you been a corporate flight attendant?

I started in 2006.

Aside from your corporate flight attendant training, what other education do you have?

I specialize in Employment Equity and Skills Development.

Which languages are you fluent in?

English and Afrikaans, and just formal greetings in Tswana.

What has been your most memorable flight?

I recently had a professional rugby team onboard. That was an honor for me!

What type of cuisine to you prefer?

I stick to local cuisine because I want to know what I am eating.

What are your favorite destinations, and why?

Mauritius for sure, and the Livingston. The thing God created for us to see is the most beautiful to see. Next, I choose New York City; some of the most important people in the world live there.

What are your favorite restaurant?

Tinga’s. They are in Montclair, New Jersey, which is about 12 miles from New York City.

What are some things to do that you would suggest for a corporate flight attendant visiting South Africa for the first time?

Learn to appreciate a power nap, because when you travel to new places you never want to sleep. Just go and explore the outside life.

Any cultural tips for a corporate flight attendant visiting South Africa for the first time?

Always sleep in a hotel’s top floor (to keep you from not hearing the traffic when you need to take a power nap). Never convert your money to home currency; you’ll be poor before you know it. Try not shake hands (you don’t know if people came from Ebola countries) and always keep in mind that you are an extension of the company employing you, even when you are off duty.

What are some in-flight catering challenges you have experienced?
How did you overcome them?

Caterers didn’t pack the pax food on the aircraft. I had to run to terminal building and put together a professional meal for pax. Just improvise.

What made you decide to become a corporate flight attendant?

Passion for travel and helping others.

What do you feel are essential skills for a successful corporate flight attendant?

Professionalism, punctuality, neatness on the outside and inside, never talk negative about any person onboard your aircraft.

What advice would you give someone looking to become a corporate flight attendant?

Never expect things to fall into place at once, it takes time and patience.

What email address should be used to contact you?

This article is part of a series of interviews we are conducting with corporate cabin crew members. If you would like to be considered for an interview, which is posted on our blog and all of our social media accounts, please contact


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