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.

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.

A Purser Makes Good Money

According to Glassdoor, in the U.S., the estimated total pay for a flight purser is $66,921 per year, with an average salary of $62,329 per year.

Qualifications to Become a Purser


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.


Pursers will generally need:

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

Becoming a Purser Takes 3-5 Years

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 to Spot a Purser on Your Next Flight

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 and oldest airline in the world, KLM, a purser’s uniform will have four silver stripes.

Patricia is a senior flight attendant with over 20 years of experience working for a major U.S. airline, primarily on international long haul flights.
Patricia is passionate about sharing her knowledge and expertise about the unique lives flight attendants lead, offers valuable insights on what it takes to become a flight attendant and what the job entails.
Patricia has been quoted or mentioned in major publications, including Newsweek.