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Airline Lingo/Airline Terms/Airline Language

On this page, you will find airline terms, airline language, and airline lingo. We are updating the airline terms based on your contributions and our knowledge. Please feel free to contribute.

If the airline crew or airport agents talk to you in terms that are "Greek" to you, ask them the meaning of the words or airline terms or lingo that they are using. And if you want to share it with our readers, please feel free to do so in the form provided below.

Alphabetical Listing of Airline Lingo, Airline Terms, or Airline Language.


An "Add-on" refers to an in flight crew (usually flight-attendants) that are "added-on" the the crew list, not originally on the list of scheduled flight attendants for a certain flights. Usually, there are flight attendants that are already scheduled to work a certain flight. But, in some occasions, for a variety of reasons, another flight attendant or attendants are "added-on" to the list of flight attendants working that particular flight.  You will hear the gate agents talking to a flight attendant who checks in for a flight "Oh - I see  - you are an "add-on".

ACARS - ACARS is Aircraft Communications Addressing and Reporting System. One pilot calls this a test messaging for pilots. The messages sent are short and brief, that sometimes,  like a telegraph, sent via satellite or radio. This was developed in 1978 using the telex format, by Aeronautical Radio Incorporated (ARINC). Later on, radio stations were added in providing ACARS messages. One of the major uses of ACARS is to send messages regarding aircraft status (OOOI - Out of the Gate; Off the Ground; On the Ground, and Into the Gate).

Black Box  - Special Feature for Today. See here.


The term bumping is commonly used in the airline industry for non-revenue passengers (those using pass and other airline employee perks, except "positive space"),  to denote the act of being "removed" from the flight after a seat has already been given. This happens when the flight, which originally had lots of seats, all of a sudden became full, either because of passengers who purchased their tickets at the very last moment, passengers who missed their earlier flights, or passengers who had later flights but were being accommodated on earlier flights either by purchasing a "stand-by" fee for a seat, or perhaps their tickets were fully changeable that they could fly on any flight that is available. When that happens, the gate agent, who has already given the seat to an employee or non-revenue passenger, would now has to tell the employee that she/he is being "bumped" to accommodate paying passengers. A non-revenue passenger can be "bumped" from First or Business Class to the economy or coach class. This happened to me one time on the flight from San Francisco (SFO) to Narita, Tokyo (NRT). I was already comfortably seated, sipping a champagne, when my manager informed me that a Platinum Elite passenger (who was late and whose seat I was occupying),  who just came on a connecting flight is now running to the gate and wanted to the airline to hold his seat for him.

A revenue passenger (paying passenger) can also be bumped for some reasons. An example is when a flight is "weight-critical", a gate agent usually notifies the passengers waiting to board that the flight is "weight-critical", and the agent will be asking volunteers to give up their seats. When there are no volunteers, the gate will "bump" or "deny boarding" the last passenger who boarded the flight (after all the non-revenue employees have been removed). The passenger that was removed can be termed "bumped" or "involuntarily denied boarding".

"Bumping" is one of those things we airline employees had to contend and live with as long as we are flying standby.

Cargo Bin 

This is the part of the aircraft where cargo is held (at the belly of the aircraft). Only cargoes are held here. Cargoes may contain live animals, which are usually held at a special heated/pressurized part of the cargo hold for safety purposes. When live animals are to be kept in the cargo hold, the captain is informed through a document. The document is given by an airline agent to the flight attendant who, informs the passenger that the precious animal cargo has been boarded.

Charter Flights - These are flights that are usually pre-arranged by a group or company so that only their group members are allowed to join. The passengers on this flight are checked separately, away from military authorities. An example of a charter flight is when The Twins sports team had to go a a certain city. The team rented the whole flight for that day.


Airline crew members who are "deadheading" are those that need to ride a certain air flight to get to the destination where he/she is going to start his/her assigned flight. For example, Captain Smith is in San Francisco. According to his schedule, he needs to fly Flight No. 333 with routing from New York (JFK Airport) to Atlanta (ATL Airport). Captain Smith will be deadheading a flight (on his own airline), from San Francisco (SFO) to fly to JFK. "Deadheading" crew members are classified as "need to fly". They need to have a seat on the flight that will take them to the airport where they will start their scheduled flight. Deadheading crew members sometimes are already wearing a uniform when they deadhead.

Ferry Flight

A "ferry flight" is a special flight that was not on schedule, but will be put on schedule for departure from a certain airport to another, for a purpose of "positioning" the aircraft to be used for a different purpose, or to be used, in place of an aircraft that was disabled due to maintenance or other reasons. For example, when I worked in San Francisco (SFO), I came to Minneapolis (MSP) on a regular flight on August 31, 2001. Because of the terrorism at the Twin Towers in New York, all flights were cancelled. A day later, I was told that a special flight from MSP would be leaving in a few hours, to carry only crew and employees who were stranded in MSP. That flight was a ferry flight, for the purpose of positioning it, from MSP to leave out of SFO for whatever flight they might have planned to use it. 

Fly Confirmed for Less   - This is the term for a ticket that can be bought by Airline Employees for themselves and their dependents, that are not standby tickets, but lower in price than the revenue fares sold by the airlines and/or travel agency. Airline employees have a website that they go to to book flights using this kind of ticket.


This lingo refers to the big, wide body aircraft. When pilots communicate wth the Control Tower or Gate Control, they use this word so that the control centers are aware of the size of the aircraft (although these control centers already knew what size of aircraft are coming in); helpful especially in assigning gates to the incoming aircraft.

Jet Bridge 

A jet bridge is similar to the jet way. (See Jet Way meaning below).

Jet Way 

A jet-way is the moving (or not moving) covered bridge-like structure that connects the airplane to the gate at the airport. It is the passageway (covered) for the passengers and airline employees' use to get to the airplane. A Jetway, like Colgate, is a trademark, but is widely used to refer to the "covered bridge" from the airport to the airplane.


KTN stands for Known Travelers Number. This is the number given to travelers who applied for TSA Pre-Check Program. This is a paid program for U.S. citizens who are frequent fliers and who would like access through security faster and less cumbersome (no more taking off shoes). Once you receive the KTN,. make sure that it is printed in your boarding pass and your itinerary. If it not in the boarding pass, you still have to go through the lone lines.


A passenger is stopping in one city before continuing his/her trip to another city. For example, you are flying from New York, you stop in Minneapolis for four (4) hours, continued on to San Francisco after four hours.  discount airline tickets usually are not allowed for long "lay-overs", meaning more than 4 hours.  If you are planning to stay more than four hours (except when something wrong happens to your flight, or because of any weather problem),  your ticket can cost more.

For airline crew members, a layover means that they are not spending the night at a hotel in their city of destination.  They are there to wait for the next scheduled flight. 

Seat-belt Extender

A seat-belt extender is an extension of the seat-belt that you use on board the plane. A seat-belt extender is used by heavy-weight passengers if the original seat-belt is not enough. This is usually free of charge upon request. You may request a seat-belt extender when you make your reservation. Some airline will put the request in your record and will ask you to follow it up on the day of departure, or ask the flight attendant before boarding. Just to make sure that it is available, mention it to an airline representative when you are checking in. There has been instances when seat-belt extenders are not available on a particular flight (i.e., there are a lot of heavy-weight passengers on board), so if you do not want to miss a flight or an important appointment, mention your need to an airline representative.

Straight-Back Chair

The term "straight-back" refers to the chair used to help a passenger who could not walk to his/her airplane seat. It is called "straight-back" because the back is straight (and long). It is narrow so that the width easily fits on the airplane aisle. 

The straight-back chair is usually requested by passenger who could not walk to their seats due to temporary or permanent disability. The airline personnel (usually two), lifts the chair with the passenger on it, from the Jetway to the passenger's seat. Usually, the passengers are transferred from a wheelchair to the "straight-back" chair. This chair can be requested in advance but needs to be followed up when the passenger checks in on the day of departure. Notify the airline representative that the passenger is not able to walk from the jet way to the chair.

What does CAD$ mean in airline lingo?

The CAD$ is not really an airline lingo, or specific to airline language. You usually see this - CAD$ on flight itineraries or paper tickets. What that means is there is a Canadian dollar equivalent to the fare that is listed in your ticket. 

Have some airline lingo, terms or language? Please share!

Please share it for our readers! They will thank you!

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