Everyone is familiar with flight attendants and the role they play on a flight, but there is another lesser known job role that you may not have heard much about – a purser.

A purser can fulfill the same role of a flight attendant, but also takes on additional management responsibilities and tasks.

Essentially, a purser is in charge of the cabin crew and plays a larger role in handling cabin safety, the experience of passengers, and completes flight paperwork.

Purser Duties and Responsibilities

Depending on the airline, a purser may have the following duties and responsibilities:

  • Contacts the gate agent to coordinate the boarding procedure
  • In charge of the cabin crew and assign their duties
  • Reviews all relevant flight information
  • Check with passengers who may require special assistance
  • Shares any important passenger information with the captain
  • Ensures there are enough meals onboard for all the passengers
  • Conducts announcements throughout the flight
  • Informs pilots of the situation in the cabin
  • Attempts to resolve unexpected situations during the flight
  • Handles the administrative duties of the flight, such as recording duty-free purchases
  • Writes an evaluation about the flight attendants

Is a Purser the Same as a Flight Attendant?

A purser may fulfill some of the same roles as a flight attendant, but they have more responsibility and perform tasks that flight attendants typically won’t perform.

Is There a Purser on Every Flight?

Whether there is a purser on every flight can depend on the airline and flight route.

Some airlines may only have pursers on those long transoceanic flights, whereas in the U.S., there is usually a purser on both domestic and international flights.

How Much Does a Purser Make?

According to Glassdoor, in the U.S., the estimated total pay for a flight purser is $62,078 per year, with an average salary of $50,341 per year.

How Can You Become a Purser?

Education

Pursers typically need at least a high school diploma or GED certificate.

A bachelor’s degree is more common, with 54% of flight pursers holding a bachelor’s degree and 13% holding a master’s degree.

Communication, human resources management or linguistics are the most popular degrees.

Training and Experience

Pursers receive on-the-job training from working as a flight attendant.

Additional training is required to take on the new responsibilities and duties, especially those that are more managerial.

Training may include greater insight into the airline’s policies and procedures, safety guidelines, emergency procedures and more.

Skills

Pursers will generally need:

  • Strong communication skills
  • Strong customer service skills
  • Excellent attention to detail
  • Willingness to adhere to a flexible schedule

How Long Does it Take to Become a Purser?

While every airline will have a different process, candidates to become pursers are typically flight attendants who have at least a few years of experience working as a flight attendant, at which point they have gained some seniority.

The earliest a flight attendant can become a purser is around 3-5 years.

How Can You Recognize a Purser?

There is no universal uniform that a purser wears, as it varies by airline.

A purser will look different to other members of the cabin crew by what they wear, though.

Pursers who work for Emirates wear a brown color compared to every other crew member that dresses the same, whereas on the Dutch airline, KLM, a purser’s uniform will have four silver stripes.

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