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What Does it Take to Become a Purser for Virgin Atlantic? Meet Scott Coley, Who Reveals All…

What Does it Take to Become a Purser for Virgin Atlantic? Meet Scott Coley, Who Reveals All…

What Does it Take to Become a Purser or Virgin Atlantic? Meet Scott Coley, Who Reveals All...
Story Highlights
  • Scott has been a senior cabin crew member for the last four years
  • He’s responsible for everything that happens in the cabin
  • Other cabin crew look for him for direction when things go wrong
  • Responsible for the welfare for all the cabin crew during layovers

Scott Coley has been what Virgin Atlantic calls a Flight Services Manager (FSM) for the last four years and as the senior cabin crew member, he’s responsible for everything that goes on in the cabin… long before passengers even start boarding the plane.  Recently, he shared what goes into becoming an FSM and what “one of the most varied and valued jobs in the airline world” entails.

Scott started off his airline career at the turn of the millennium when he started working as cabin crew for a low-cost carrier doing short-haul turns.  It wasn’t until 2006 that he managed to land his dream with Virgin Atlantic, working long-haul flights from the airline’s two bases at Heathrow and Gatwick in London.

Photo Credit: Virgin Atlantic

Clearly, Scott made quite the impression and after nine years of hard graft working up the ranks, he became an FSM… The most senior cabin crew member on any given flight and what Virgin says requires an “exceptional kind of person”.  Promotion is hard to come by at Virgin, although this kind of opportunity isn’t quite so rare at some other airlines.

“They need to retain a vast amount of information, pass stringent annual checks, be a superb team manager and deal with anything from a misbehaving TV screen to a full-blown crisis,” Virgin says of its senior crew members.

So what does the day in the life of an FSM entail?  Here we follow Scott as he takes a flight out from Gatwick to the sunnier climes of Barbados.  The day starts off with a pre-flight briefing, running through a carefully scripted briefing that covers safety and security, meeting the pilots, assigning roles, discussing the service and giving a quick but inspiring pep talk.

Then comes any FSM’s busiest and most intense part of the day.  It should only take half an hour from the moment the crew gets on the plane to the aircraft pushing back for departure – It’s a massive team effort but Scott is at the centre of it all.  From completing safety and security checks, making sure the catering is onboard, dealing with engineering and sorting out seating issues as they arise.

Thankfully, on this occasion, the team get it all done with five minutes to spare and the flight pushes back early.

Photo Credit: Virgin Atlantic

“On a normal flight, my job is the same as any cabin crew; to deliver great service,” Scott explains. “But when a problem arises, that’s when I have to step up to the mark.”

“As the FSM I need to take responsibility and deal with the situation, and a lot of it is about being able to manage time and delegate. But I know I can rely on the help of the highly trained team I have with me,” he continues.

So what kind of problems is Scott talking about?  Along with countless medical emergencies, Scott has also had to keep a cool head when a passenger passed away during a long-haul flight and deal with the restraint of an aggressive customer.

Of course, it’s not just about taking charge of the situation when things go wrong.  Scott is also a leader and mentor.

“The best thing is when someone tells me I’ve helped them,” he says. “If someone asks me to mentor them and I think they’re going to learn from the experience I’ll go above and beyond to help.”

And don’t be thinking that FSM’s can just relax once they get to their destination.  Scott might be able to enjoy the winter sun in Barbados but he’s also responsible for the welfare of all the other crew members during their layover.  If someone is taken sick, it will be Scott’s job to coordinate what happens next.

Lucky for Scott, there are no incidents to deal with on this layover and before you know it, it’s time to head back to London.  There’s just one last job entrusted in Scott’s hands before he heads off for a few days off – dropping off the charity money collected in-flight.


Courtesy Ruby blog.

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