Helen Watson, a flight services manager with 26 years experience, was dismissed in August last year and has now launched a personal grievance case against her former employer.
Air New Zealand says it fired Watson after a disciplinary investigation found her actions amounted to serious misconduct.
The airline alleges Watson, when waiting for the departure of her own flight to Rarotonga, saw an Emirates flight at an adjacent boarding gate using a Boeing 777-300 aircraft.
As Air New Zealand was due to get the same model of plane, she asked to have a look on board.
According to Employment Relations Authority documents, what happened next is in dispute.
Watson said she was told no and left.
But the gate agent complained she had gone down the bridge and picked up a document containing the Emirates crew list before leaving.
When approached a short while later by an Emirates representative who asked why she had attempted to go on the plane, Watson allegedly replied: “Curiosity, do you know how to spell it?”
She then accompanied the representative back to the aircraft where she spoke with the chief purser and captain and apologised.
However, Emirates later complained to Air New Zealand, which began the investigation resulting in her dismissal.
Air New Zealand said Watson’s actions were partly responsible for the late departure of her flight, which she failed to disclose.
It also listed “speaking sarcastically” and “breaching security protocols” among its allegations.
Following a meeting, Watson was dismissed by Air New Zealand performance and development manager John Flett on August 21 last year.
The grievance case was lodged on December 8. It will now be referred to a member of the ERA.