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15+ Terms to Augment Your Airline & Airport Acumen


Here is an inconclusive list of various airline airport terms, words, phrases, and jargon that are often used by pilots, crew members, airport staff, etc.

Airport Code – Also defined by IATA, this is a 3-letter designation for most major airports around the world (JFK, AUA, CGK, etc.).

Gateway City – A city with an airport, usually an international hub airport, that serves as an arrival and departure point for further connections to outlying cities and/or countries.

Saturday Night Stay – A term used by almost all airlines which refers to this as a requirement for obtaining certain promotional fares. A R/T flight that has a Saturday night stay is usually more economical than a midweek flight.

Standby – Referring to a passenger who does not have a confirmed seat on the intended flight, such as in overbooked flights, and must “stand by” until a seat becomes available or otherwise the next flight.

Mileage Run – Unofficial term adopted by many veteran frequent fliers that distinguishes flights flown for the sole purpose of earning the most “miles” or points in one’s frequent flier program. Most fliers who do mileage runs do so on the weekend, when they have time off of work. Mileage runs are done in earnest towards the end of the year, as fliers scramble to gain the required “miles” needed to ensure the airline status they want for the next year. A representation of this would be a frequent traveler who, in November, realizes they need 9000 more SkyMiles on Delta Airlines so that they can continue as a Gold Medallion for the next full year. The traveler then decides to do a mileage run on one weekend, to earn the miles that they need, while paying the least amount of money. Leaving Friday after work, they do a trip, from ATL-BOS, while making a stop in LHR, SAP, IAD, and CDG (bad example, but you get the point). After returning, the flier now has sufficient SkyMiles to ensure Gold Medallion status on Delta for the next year. One more note, many fliers who do mileage runs may never even leave the airport; if done on the weekend, a roundtrip flight with 2 or 3 layovers each way, which are typical in mileage runs, can leave very little time to leave the airport’s secured area with time enough to get back in for the next flight out.

Mattress Run – Similar to a mileage run, a mattress run is executed when a traveler, who is a member of a hotel chain’s frequent stay program, stays a few nights at a hotel with the sole purpose of bulking up on whatever points the hotel’s program offers. The benefits of doing mattress runs include possible free nights earned, higher status in the program, and more amenities, services, and upgrades offered as the result of the higher status. Hotels typically have offers where guests can earn an increased number of points for stays during these promotions, which are when a lot of mattress runs are undertaken.

Glossary Square ImageMore words to come soon, in other travel categories! For these and more definitions, check out the Dauntless Jaunter Travel Glossary »

Updated: 2017-03-01
Reason: Migration of site from the old, long URL (www.dauntlessjaunter.com) to this long-overdue shorter one 🙂 (we may have updated some typos or metadata while we were at it)

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Written by
Christian Eilers
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