Like every industry, airlines have developed their own jargon, neologisms, and slang terms to use. Perhaps it is to not make something said aloud known to us common passengers, or maybe they’ve just used these terms enough as to be unable to separate these words and phrases from their everyday vocabulary.
Here are some interesting words and phrases from our travel glossary that pilots, flight attendants, and other airline staff (and even passengers) have adopted and created and use now as their own lingo and slang:
A/C – Crew-speak for the aircraft.
Add-On – A member of the flight that was added to the itinerary at the last minute, such as a flight attendant who was not listed on the flight schedule but was penciled in due to another calling in sick.
“Arm the Doors” – Pre-flight task meaning to make sure that the door is secure and evacuation slides are properly set according to the exits.
Base – Flight crew term for their home airport; where the flights originate from and terminate at.
Bid – When a flight attendant puts in a request for a specific route or schedule, they are bidding.
Blue Juice – The water in the toilet in the restroom, presumably from the days when toilets used those disinfectant bricks in the tanks which colored the water blue; most toilets in airplane restrooms these days don’t usually have a pool of water at the bottom, but rather a small flap.
Blue Room – In airline slang, it is used to refer to the lav/bathroom, due to the other popular term, “blue juice.” The Blue Room can also refer to the airport lounge of the Virgin Australia airline, as it was once named Virgin Blue.
Bottle to Throttle – Curfew hours. In airline parlance, it is the time that a person has between the time they must not have another alcoholic beverage and the time of their next flight; often 12 hours.
Commute – Process of getting to starting destination or base. Pilots and flight attendants may live in one city but have another city as their base, and thus may have to commute there.
Crash Pad – The term used by flight attendants (and sometimes pilots) to refer to a rented apartment; crash pads are usually shared by several flight attendants at a time.
Crotch Watch – Also referred to as a “groin scan,” this is the rounds that the flight attendants make prior to liftoff and descent that ensures that all passengers’ seat belts are on and properly fastened.
Crumb Crunchers – A not-so-diplomatic term that flight attendants use to refer to children passengers.
Deadhead – When an airline employee, such as a pilot or flight attendant, flies as a passenger, they are deadheading if it is part of their job, such as when they aren’t on the clock but need to return to another airport for some reason. Usually a deadheader stays in uniform.
Equipment – The plane itself. When there is an “equipment change,” it usually means they are switching out the aircraft for a different one.
F/A – Flight attendant.
Ferry Flight – Delivery of an aircraft to a specific destination without paying passengers aboard.
Gate Lice – The term used for the crowd of people who amass around the gate and gate agents when anticipating boarding the plane. When the gate lice are thick, that means that this crowd is not letting others board first by blocking the gate.
George – A colloquial term for “autopilot.” This comes from the early days of flight, when pilots found the idea so magical and novel that it felt that they had another pilot in the cockpit with them.
Green Aircraft – Slang term referring to a plane fresh from the factory, and one which has an interior that still isn’t complete.
Groin Scan – Another name for the “crotch watch,” which is when the flight attendants make their rounds to ensure that all seat belts are properly fastened.
Holding Pen – Airport slang for the waiting area at an airport gate where passengers wait prior to boarding the aircraft.
Illegal – A working member of an aircraft, whether it be a pilot or flight attendant, who crosses over the maximum hours allowed to work per flight, day, or schedule without sleep or a break.
Interphone – The phones located throughout the cabin, allowing the cabin crew to speak to each other in various cabins, as well as to reach the flight deck and pilots when the door is shut.
Jump Seat – A flight term referring to an auxiliary (extra) seat for persons who are not operating the aircraft, such as the cabin crew or perhaps a trainee pilot in the flight deck. Often used to denote the drop-down seat that flight attendants strap themselves into during takeoff and landing.
Kettle Class – A mocking term for economy or coach class, taken from the hillbilly characters of Ma and Pa Kettle.
Landing Lips – A term originally referring to when flight attendants (overwhelmingly female in the past) would put on their lipstick and other makeup to make themselves presentable to passengers as they bid them farewell on the way out. Today, passengers also use this term to mean that they are getting ready to deplane.
Line – The schedule of trips a flight attendant is offered each month, referring to the entire sequence.
Line Holder – A flight attendant working a line, and not on reserve.
Lounge Lizard – A flight attendant who is working the line currently and who would skip the use of a crash pad, instead sleeping in the lounge at the airport, usually to save money.
Narrowbody – A plane with one aisle down the center. As opposed to a widebody.
Non-rev – Short for “Non-revenue,” it is an airline employee or a family member who takes advantage of the company perks to fly at a nominal cost, or free.
Offline City – A city to which an airline or flight does not fly.
Pax – An abbreviation for “passengers” that has been adopted into everyday usage by many in the airline industry.
Slam-Click – In general slang, this means to go straight to one’s room and lock the door (slam the door, click it shut/locked). In airline parlance, a flight attendant who is working and stuck in a foreign city for the night may be called a slam-clicker if he/she just goes straight to bed, instead of perhaps partying with the rest of the flight crew.
Spinners – Term used by flight crew to denote a kind of unwanted passenger. For some, a “spinner” is one who gets on late and doesn’t have a seat assignment or know which seat is theirs, so they “spin around” looking for it. Some use the term to denote a passenger who, upon exiting the plane and entering the airport after the jetway, “spins around” to get their bearings as they don’t know where to go. Another definition states that a spinner is one who is unhappy with their seat assignment, and thus walks down the aisle of the plane looking for a better option, “spinning around” at the very end and making their way back. In all cases, “spinners” are all but unwelcome.
Transcon – A transcontinental flight – across one continent or country.
Turn – A flight that leaves base and returns back to base in the same day. Also known as a turnaround.
Two-for-One Special – When the plane hits the runway upon landing, bounces up for a moment, then slams down again for good. Contrary to what your anxiety might be telling you, pilots often do this on purpose; when the runway appears slick, such as during rain or snow, the pilots have to slam the plane down so that the wheels break the water plane and can gain traction.
Widebody – A large plane with a row of seats going down the center, meaning there are two aisles in the main cabin. As opposed to a narrowbody.
Working the Village – Working in coach or economy class; airline employees aren’t the most diplomatic of people, apparently.
Z Time – Pilot-speak for Greenwich Mean Time, Mean Solar Time.
For more airplane and flight related words and lingo, as well as words, phrases, and terms related to travel in general, please check out the Dauntless Jaunter travel glossary. Got another one to add, post a comment below 🙂
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)