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Flight pursers: The masters of air travel

A flight purser manages the cabin crew, coordinates inflight service, and handles challenges that may arise during the flight. [File, Standard]

It is easy to assume that a plane just needs a pilot and a first officer to take off and touch down at airports across the globe - turning the world into a global village, as they say.

But as passengers enjoy the skies, there is always one key person in the flight who serves as a liaison between the flight deck and the cabin, overseeing all aspects of in-flight service and safety.

He or she is more of a ‘prefect’ tasked with managing the cabin crew, coordinating inflight service, and handling challenges that may arise during the flight.

The coveted title for the job is Flight Purser.

In the dynamic world of aviation where Boeings crisscross the skies day and night, safety for both the crew and passengers is paramount and this is a well-cut job for the flight purser whose key role is orchestrating the seamless operation of the commercial flight.

Beyond the traditional duties of a flight attendant, the flight purser embodies leadership, diplomacy, and impeccable service, ensuring that passengers' needs are met and that each flight is executed with military precision.

He or she is also in charge of discipline in the flight and can always be seen shuffling between the cabin and flight deck overseeing all aspects of in-flight service and safety.

A flight purser in action at Kenya Airways. [KQ]

Qualities of a purser

Flight pursers have years of experience and are always undergoing extensive training.

This involves coordinating inflight service, managing cabin crew, and other challenges that might arise during the flight, including but not limited to passengers falling sick.

The Standard spoke to a senior purser at the national carrier, Kenya Airways (KQ) on a quest to establish what it takes for one to be elevated to such a position.

"One of the distinguishing features of a flight purser is their ability to lead by example, setting the standard for professionalism and excellence among the cabin crew," he said while requesting for anonymity due to protocol issues.

Our source says a purser is supposed to inspire confidence and foster a collaborative environment, empowering their team to deliver exceptional service to the airline's customers and at the same time, maintain the highest safety standards.

"It is key to note that apart from their leadership role, flight pursers must be skilled communicators, adept at managing diverse passenger needs and preferences," said Evans Nyale, a retired flight attendant at KQ.

Beyond their operational duties, they also take care of passengers with disabilities making sure they are comfortable, well cared for, and accommodated.

They also play a key role in assisting with special meal requests, not forgetting supervision of the presentation of meals to passengers whether in flying business or economy.

"Their job is not limited to just taking care of the passengers, no. It trickles down to maintaining the overall ambiance, cleanliness, and atmosphere of the cabin with meticulous attention to detail.”

Emergencies

Flight pursers are trained to handle emergencies with composure and efficiency. They are at the forefront to ensure that calmness reigns even during emergencies such as crash landing and when a passenger falls sick or becomes rowdy.

In cases of an accident, pursers take charge thanks to their extensive training in onboard safety procedures and crisis management.

Next time you board a flight, remember to smile at the purser and salute them for their indispensable contributions to the aviation industry and their embodiment of hospitality and professionalism in the skies.

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