Aviation Terms

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Jump to the letter

A

Apron: Any area of the Tarmac that is not part of the runway or Taxiway.

“A” Flight Attendant: Refers to the “Lead” or “Senior” Flight Attendant on a flight. Can also be referred to as a “Purser” on international flights and receives additional pay.

Aborted Takeoff: Unexpected sudden stop of the aircraft following take off due to a mechanical or other type of issue

Aerophobia: Fear of flying in an airplane

AFA: Acronym for Association of Flight Attendants

Agent:  Refers to a Passenger Service Agent

Air Rage: Air rage refers to violent anger directed mainly at inflight personnel due to stress and frustration of air travel.

Air Traffic Control: Commonly referred to as ATC and is the FAA agency that controls aircraft both on the ground and inflight.

Air Turbulence: Also referred to as Turbulence. It is irregular motion of the atmosphere causing a rough ride on the airplane.

Aircraft Aft: The rear section of the aircraft

Aircraft Forward: The forward section of the aircraft

Aircraft Fuselage: Central structure of an aircraft that wings, tail surfaces, and engines are attached. Also includes the cabin and cockpit.

Aircraft Left: The left interior section of the aircraft

Aircraft Rear: The rear section of the aircraft

Aircraft Right: The right interior section of the aircraft

Airfare:  The price of the airplane ticket.

Airline: A company that owns and operates airplanes for commercial travel.

Airline Deregulation:  The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 that removed the governments authority to regulate airfares and routes. Airlines can fly anywhere and charge any price for airfare.

Airport Code: A three letter airport identification code for an airport such as LAX for Los Angeles International airport

Airport Identifier: Same as airport code. The three letter airport identification code.

Airstairs: The stairs that connect an airplane’s entrance to the runway or tarmac.

Aisle Seats:  Seats located closest to the aisle are referred to as aisle seats.

All Call: Request that each flight attendant report to his or her station

Alley: Taxiway or passageway between terminals or ramps

Alternate Airport: The airport that an aircrafts diverts its destination to when it is unable to land at its original destination due to weather or other problems.

APFA: Acronym for Association of Professional Flight Attendants

Area of Weather: Usually refers to a thunderstorm or area of heavy precipitation

Arrival Time:  Acronym for Estimated Time of Arrival

Arrivals:  This refers to the flights that are arriving at the airport.

A-Scale:  The airlines maximum pay scale for contractual agreement

ATC:  Acronym for Air Traffic Control

B

Base: Refers to the geographical location or city the flight attendant is based in and where most flights would start and end.

Base Rate: This is the basic hourly rate a crewmember would be paid.

Beverage Cart: The cart onboard an aircraft used by flight attendants to provide meal and beverage service.

Bid: The process Flight Attendants use on monthly lines, vacations and domiciles. The bid results are usually based on seniority.

Bid Closing Date:  The published date and time noting the end of the bidding period.

Bid Opening Date: The published date and time noting the beginning of the bid period.

Bid Package: The published list of flight pairings and times available usually for one month.

Bid Sharing: Offered at some airlines where two flight attendants can share or split the flight pairings.

Block: A schedule that has specific trip pairings usually for one month.

Block Time:  This is the actual time the aircraft pushes back from the gate to the it arrives at its destination gate. Flight attendants pay is based largely on block time.

Blockholder: A crewmember with a sufficient line of time to hold a regular monthly schedule.

Block-to-Block Time:  Same as block time. The actual time the aircraft pushes back from the gate to the it arrives at its destination gate. Flight attendants pay is based largely on block time.

Boarding: The process of passengers getting on the aircraft, stowing their bags and taking their assigned seats.

Briefing:  A procedure imitated by a senior individual in charge of the group where items of responsibility are reviewed and delegated to crew members. Briefings can also cover emergency procedures and medical emergencies.

B-Scale:  Refers to the second-tier pay scale within an airline.

Buddy Bidding: Two flight attendants are allowed to bid the identical schedule.

Buddy Pass: A reduced rate, space available pass that allows friends and family to travel on an airline for a reduced fee. Generally 50 to 90 percent off the regular price for coach fare.

Bulkhead: The seats located behind the partition that separate various cabins in the aircraft. These seats generally have more leg room.

Bulkhead Seat: The seats located behind the partition that separate various cabins in the aircraft. These seats generally have more leg room.

Business Class: An upgraded service offered on most international flights. May also include larger seats, complimentary cocktails and upgraded meal service.

C

Cabin Crew: Flight attendants assigned to work on the specific flight

Cancelled:  These are scheduled flights that are no longer going to happen and passengers will need another flight to their destination.

Captain: The Captain is the pilot in command of the aircraft.

Cardiopulmonary Resuscitation: First aid procedure that is performed when a person stops breathing. Also referred to as CPR.

Charter Flight: Private non-scheduled flights often booked by a sports team, band or a vacation group.

Check-In Time: Time that you are required to check-in at the airport.

Claim Time:  This is time paid in excess of your regular pay for deadheading or overtime.

Cleaners:  Ground personnel that clean the aircraft after passengers exit the airplane.

Coach: The largest and most basic class of service on the airplane.

Cockpit: This is where the pilot and copilot sit and control the plane.

Cockpit Crew: The crew members responsible for piloting the aircraft. Usually consists of the captain, first officer and occasionally a second officer.

Commute:  The process of traveling by air to a given domicile.

Commuter Airline: Small airlines that are part of the regional airline category. Some have affiliations with major airlines that have the mainline routes.

Commuter Apartment: Apartment shared by several crew members in the airline industry.

Commuter:  An individual who commutes by air to a given domicile.

Companion Pass: A reduced rate, space available pass that allows friends and family to travel on an airline for a reduced fee. Generally 50 to 90 percent off the regular price for coach fare.

Configuration: Refers to the class(es) of service on the airplane such as First class, Business class or Coach.

Contract Negotiations: The working agreement covers pay, benefits, union security, seniority, scheduling, work rules, vacations, sick time, the handling of grievances (complaints), etc.

Contractual Work Rules:  The airline-specific rules published in a labor contract that govern maximum flight hours, on-duty time, days worked, scheduling procedures, etc. Also referred to as “Work Rules.”

Copilot:  The second in command on the aircraft next to the pilot. Also referred to as a First Officer.

CPR: First aid procedure that is performed when a person stops breathing.

Crash Pad: Apartment shared by several crew members in the airline industry.

Crew Base: The city and airport a flight attendant is assigned to.

Crew Legalities: Refers to whether or not a crewmember is abiding by the labor contract that covers hours flown, rest periods, and on-duty times.

Crew Schedulers: The individuals who are responsible for making sure routine and non-routine flights depart on time and have enough crewmembers.

CRM: Acronym for Crew Resource Management

D

Date of Hire: Date a flight attendant graduates from training. Also establishes a seniority number within an airline.

Deadhead: When a Flight Attendant or Pilot travels as a passenger while on duty (often in uniform) to another city to cover a flight departing from another location. Usage: “I had to deadhead to Boston.”

Deadhead Time: This is time paid in excess of your regular pay for deadheading or overtime.

Defibrillator: Medical device carried on a plane to treat victims of cardiac arrest.

Delay: Time period that the aircraft is held before it can depart. Delays can be caused by maintenance, mechanical problems, weather. Etc.

Demo: The FAA mandated demonstration of aircraft and emergency equipment by the flight attendants prior to takeoff.

Department Head:  The head person in charge of a specific department within an airline

Departure Time: The time a flight is scheduled to depart.

Departures:  These are flights that are leaving the airport.

Deplaning: This is the process of passengers getting off the plane once it has arrived at the gate.

Deregulation: The Airline Deregulation Act of 1978 that removed the governments authority to regulate airfares and routes. Airlines can fly anywhere and charge any price for airfare.

Direct Flight:  Single flight with one or more stops before reaching its destination. Many people confuse “direct” flights with “non-stop” flights.

Divert: When the pilot elects to land at an airport other than the intended destination. This can be due to adverse weather, a medical emergency, a closed runway, etc.

Domicile: The city and associated airport a flight attendant is assigned to

Door Arming: The process of preparing the aircraft door so that the escape slide deploys upon opening.

Door Slide: Device used to escape the aircraft during an emergency evacuation.

Duty Time: Time a crewmember is on duty.

E

Economy Class: Same as what is commonly called Coach.

EFC Time: Stands for Expect Further Clearance, also referred to as a release time and the point at which a crew expects to be released from a holding pattern or ground stop

Emergency Exits:  Marked doors and windows located in the center of the airplane to be used during an emergency.

Equipment: Refers to the actual airplane.

ETA: Acronym for Estimated Time of Arrival.

ETD:  Acronym for Estimated Time of Departure.

Evacuation: Emergency procedure for rapid removal of passengers from and aircraft.

Exit Row:  The row of seats located in the emergency exit section of the aircraft.

Extra Section: Additional flights added to a scheduled destination to accommodate additional passengers.

F

F/A Emergency Manual:  Manual required by the FAA to be personally carried at all times by every on-duty flight attendant. Also called an Emergency Procedures Manual.

F/A Jumpseat: The fold down seats used by the flight attendants during take off or heavy turbulence.

F/A:  Acronym for Flight Attendant

FAA: Acronym for Federal Aviation Agency

FAM: Acronym for Federal Air Marshall

FARs: Acronym for Federal Aviation Regulations

Federal Aviation Agency: Government agency that oversees all airline operations

Federal Aviation Regulations: The specific regulations instituted by the FAA

Ferry Flight: Flight with no revenue passengers onboard

FFDO: Acronym for Federal Flight Deck Officer

Final and Immediate Boarding Call: Means to hurry up and board the plane before you miss your flight.

Final Approach: The announcement made right before the airplane is descending and preparing to land.

Firearm Authorization: A notification that is presented to the senior flight attendant identifying passengers carrying authorized firearms.

First Class:  Passengers sitting in the first rows are first class seating. First class has more space for passengers to move around. The seats are usually bigger and more comfortable. First class passengers may also receive special services while on the flight. First class seats are more expensive, and the first class passengers get to board the plane first.

First Officer: Second in command pilot on the airplane. Also referred to as the Copilot.

Flight Attendant: A crewmember responsible for the safety and comfort of all passengers during a flight.

Flight Deck: Means the same thing as the cockpit, where the pilot and copilot sit.

Flight Engineer: Refers to the Second Officer

Flight Hour Option: A bid option offered by some airlines allowing a flight attendant to fly less or fly more than a monthly line of time.

Flight Hours: Number of hours flown in a given pay period.

Flight Level: Refers to how many thousands of feet you are above sea level.

Flight Miles: Miles flown for a given pay period.

Flight Time: Also known as “Airtime,” this is the time that is allowed from takeoff to touchdown for a specific flight.

Flight: A trip made on an airplane between two places

FOB: Acronym for Fuel On Board

Freight Hold/Cargo Hold: This is where the luggage and baggage is stored for passengers during a flight.

Full Month: Refers to the maximum allowed flight hours for any given month.

Furlough:  Refers to a layoff of an airline employee due to a reduction in staff or labor strikes.

Fuselage: The main part of the airplane where passengers sit and where the luggage is stored.

G

Galley: Where the meals and beverages are prepared by the flight attendants.

Gate: The boarding area at the airport for a specific flight number.

Gatehouse: Means the same thing as the gate. The boarding area at the airport for a specific flight number.

Get Your Time In: Maximizing your flight hours in order to get a full month of hours.

Greenwich Mean Time:  The exact time in Greenwich, England. Also known as “Zulu” or “Z” time. Pilot weather packets, clearances, dispatch releases, and other paperwork all use Greenwich Mean Time as a worldwide airline standard.

Grievances:  Refers to complaints issued by a labor union to an airline when it appears that portions of the labor contract are being violated by the company. Grievances are most common in scheduling scenarios.

Ground Stop: The point when departures to one or more destination are curtailed by ATC, usually due to a traffic backlog.

H

Hard Time: This is the actual time the aircraft pushes back from the gate to the it arrives at its destination gate. Flight attendants pay is based largely on block time.

Hijacking:  Act of aggression by a passenger onboard an aircraft where crewmembers and other passengers are taken hostage until the hijacker’s demands are met.

Holding: Procedure used by air traffic controllers to delay arrivals of aircraft due to traffic saturation or bad weather

Holding Pattern: A racetrack-shaped course flown during weather or traffic delays.

Hub:  An airport where the majority of an airline’s traffic passes in order to meet connecting flights.

I

IAM: Acronym for International Association of Machinists.

IBT: Acronym for International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

In range: This is a common gatehouse announcement used during delays, when the plane you’re waiting to board hasn’t yet landed.

In-flight entertainment: Movie that is played for passengers during a flight.

Initial Training: Training that must be completed by all new-hires. Also referred to as “New-Hire Training.”

Instructor:  An individual who conducts initial and recurrent flight attendant training classes. Also referred to as a “Trainer.”

Interline Discounts: Travel industry discounts for airline crewmembers.

International Flight:  A flight that departs from a domestic location and lands at an international destination.

Interviewer: The individual or recruiter who conducts interviews with flight attendant applicants.

J

Jetbridge/Jetway:  The bridge that connects the airplane to the terminal.

Jetway:  Passageway between the gate area and the aircraft that allows passengers to board and deplane.

Jumpseat:  The fold down seats used by the flight attendants during take off or heavy turbulence.

Junior: Term used to measure seniority at an airline.

K

Kosher: Specialty meal for Jewish people who follow certain rules regarding their diets.

L

Labor Contract: A working agreement that covers, pay, benefits, union security, seniority, scheduling, vacation sick time etc.

Labor Union:  Body of members that seek to negotiate labor contracts and handle labor disputes.

Language of Destination or Origin: A flight attendant who is assigned to an international trip as a second language speaker.

Last Minute Paperwork: Usually refers to something to do with the weight-and-balance record, a revision to the flight plan, or waiting for the maintenance guys to deal with a write-up and get the logbook in order.

Layover-FA: Period of time a crewmember is scheduled to remain at a specific location.

Layover – Passenger: When a passenger must get off one plane and board another plane to reach their final destination.

Lead Flight Attendant:  Refers to the “Lead” or “Senior” Flight Attendant on a flight. Can also be referred to as a “Purser” on international flights and receives additional pay.

Leave of Absence:  A period of time granted by an airline in order for a flight attendant to pursue other interests or needs before returning to work.

Leg:  A single departure point to a single destination point. A leg has one takeoff and one landing.

LEO: Acronym for Law Enforcement Officer

Lifeguard: Flight Flight responsible for transporting organs to a medical facility.

Limo Time:  The time the crewmembers are expected to meet in the hotel lobby.

Limo:  Term used by crewmembers that refers to the vehicle that transports crewmembers to and from the hotel.

Line of Time: Refers to a monthly schedule.

Line Sharing: A system where two flight attendants can split a monthly line of time.

Lineholder: A crewmember with a sufficient line of time to hold a regular monthly schedule.

LOD/O:  Acronym for Language of Destination or Origin

Luggage/Baggage Storage: A place where travelers can leave their suitcase if they want to exit the airport during a long layover.

M

Mainline: Refers to an airline that provides both commuter and large jet service

Major Airline: An airline with over $1 billion in annual operating revenue.

Meal Cart: The cart onboard an aircraft used by flight attendants to provide meal and beverage service.

Mechanic: Ground support crew of an airline that is responsible for maintenance and repair of aircraft.

Mechanical: A problem with an aircraft that requires maintenance before departure.

Mediation: Individual hired from outside an airline that assist in reaching terms to a working agreement.

Medical Emergency:  Emergency onboard an aircraft that requires first aid, medical attention, and possible aircraft diversion.

Medlink: Medical agency used by some airlines that provide in-flight personnel direct communication with a physician during medical emergencies.

MEL: Acronym for Minimum Equipment List

Military Time: The time on a 24-hour clock, used by airlines and crewmembers industry-wide in reading trip pairings.

Minimum Guarantee:  Minimum number of hours during a month regardless of number of hours flown. Applies to reserve only.

Monthly Projection:  Projected number of flight hours at the end of the month.

N

Narrow Body: Aircraft with a single aisle.

National Airline: An airline with between $100 million and $1 billion annual operating revenue

New-Hire: A flight attendant who has just completed initial training

New-Hire Training: Training that must be completed by all new-hires. Also referred to as “New-Hire Training.”

No Contact: Flight attendant infraction resulting from a crew scheduler being unable to reach a flight attendant for a trip assignment. Usually applies to reserves only

Non-Rev: Acronym for Non-Revenue that refers to an airline employee who travels using space-available passes.

Non-Stop Flight: Single flight with one takeoff and one landing. Same a direct flight.

O

On Time: When the plane is on time it will arrive or depart at the original scheduled time.

On-Call: Period of time where a reserve flight attendant may be assigned a trip.

On-Duty: The period of time a flight attendant is “working,” from check-in time until off-duty.

Open Time: Uncovered trips open for bid by lineholders

Origination: Refers to the first flight of the day.

Out-and-In: One day trip that flies to a destination and returns. Also referred o as a turnaround.

Out-of-Time: When a flight attendant reaches the maximum flight limit hours and can no longer legally fly for the month.

Over Water Flight: Flight that exceeds 50 nautical miles from the coastline that requires an emergency life vest and raft demo. Also referred to as a Transoceanic Flight.

Overhead Bin: Storage area above passenger seats to stow carry on bags. Also referred to as a overhead compartment.

Overhead Compartment: Storage area above passenger seats to stow carry on bags. Also referred to as a overhead bin.

P

Q

Quick Call: Trip assigned to a reserve lineholder that requires reporting to the flight as soon as possible.

R

Ramp Workers: Maintenance personnel, cleaners, fuelers, caterers, etc.

Ramp: Area around the aircraft where ground personnel perform their duties. This includes maintenance, baggage handling, catering, fueling, etc.

Reach Test: The test instituted by several airlines to determine whether a flight attendant applicant will be tall enough to perform the required duties.

Recall: Calling back a furloughed worker to the job.

Recurrent Training: Refresher training required by the FAA to be completed by all flight attendants.

Red-Eye: Flight, typically from the West Coast that departs late in the evening flying eastbound all night to the destination.

Regional Airline: An airline with less than $100 million in annual operating revenue. Includes commuter airlines.

Regular Line of Time: A schedule that has specific trip pairings usually for one month.

Rejected Takeoff: Unexpected sudden stop of the aircraft following take off due to a mechanical or other type of issue

Report Time: Time you are required to check in at the airport.

Reservationist: Airline representative who books flights and assists passengers with ticket issues or problems.

Reserve: A crewmember with no seniority to have a regular line of time and must fly on reserve with no set schedule.

Reserve Line of Time: A schedule with no set line of time.

RON: Acronym for Remain Overnight

Rows: The row of seats on an airplane start on the left side and goes to the right of the plane. The rows are numbered so passengers will know what seat they have based on the assigned seat number on their boarding pass and the row and seat number on the plane.

S

Scab: Crewmember that crosses a picket line during a strike.

Second Officer: The second officer is third in command and normally a non flying position. It is also referred to as Flight Engineer.

Senior: Term used to measure seniority at an airline.

Seniority List: List published by an airline listing the seniority numbers of flight attendants.

Seniority Number: Unique number assigned to flight attendants based on hire dates.

Seniority: Ranking system based on date of hire.

Show Time: Time that you are required to check-in at the airport.

Space-A Travel: Refers to an airline employee who travels using space-available passes. Also referred to as Non Rev.

Specialty Meals: Meals for passengers with unique diets.

Standard: Standard seating on the airplane that have no restrictions.

Standby: Refers to not having a boarding pass with assigned seat and still trying to get a seat on that flight if one is available after all passengers have boarded.

Sterile Cockpit: The period of time where the cockpit door must be locked and flight attendants cannot enter unless there is an emergency.

Stewardess: Term used to describe flight attendants in the 70’s.

Strike: legal stoppage of work due to a labor dispute.

Supervisor: The flight attendant manager responsible for all flight attendants at a give location.

T

Tarmac: The area of an airport where the aircraft are parked, loaded or unloaded, refueled and boarded.

Taxi: Moving the aircraft on the ground.

Terminal: A large building where passengers get on and off flights. Large airports have several while small airports only have one.

Termination: Refers to the last flight of the day.

Terminator: Aircraft that is finished flying for that day.
The full, Upright and Locked Position: Refers to upright.

The Off Position: To power off items such as cellphones or laptops.

Ticket Agent: The person responsible for passengers from the time they check-in at the gate until the aircraft’s cabin door is closed. Duties include passenger check-in, baggage checking, and assistance with passengers in wheelchairs. Also responsible for confirming that fuel quantity and passenger count is correct before entry door is closed. Also referred to as a “Ticket Agent” or “Agent.”

Trainer: An individual who conducts initial and recurrent flight attendant training classes. Also referred to as a “Trainer.”

Transcontinental Flight: Flight that exceeds 50 nautical miles from the coastline that requires an emergency life vest and raft demo. Also referred to as a Transoceanic Flight.

Trip: Series of flight numbers that complete a trip.

Trip Check-In: Time a flight attendant needs to check in for an assigned trip. Usually one hour prior to departure.

Trip Pairing: Series of flight numbers that complete a trip. Also referred to as a trip.

Tuff Cuffs: Restraining device used by flight attendants to restrain unruly passengers.

Turbulence: It is irregular motion of the atmosphere causing a rough ride on the airplane.

Turnaround: One day trip that flies to a destination and returns. Also referred o as a turnaround.

Two-Tiered Wage System: Refers to the second-tier pay scale within an airline.

TWU: Acronym for Transport Workers Union of American.

Aviation terms are still under construction. Check back soon for updates!

 

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