My first flight alone was at the age of 19 and I had barely managed to decipher half of the lingo in the first attempt. Now after 9 years of flying I still find the information thrown at me in airports, air tickets and flight cabins- full of jargons, abbreviations and euphemisms.
If you are yet to fly for the first time, the following explanations will definitely make you a better-informed flier than your co-passenger with a vague understanding of these.
If you are linked to the aviation industry or you are a know-it-all frequent flier, this will make you remember your first flying experience.
Layover: A break between two flights taking you to your destination. Typically, a layover is a short break (mostly a few hours, extending up to 24 hours).
It is a term used by the airlines to denote the maximum amount of time you can spend between two flights.
For example, if you look for a flight between Mumbai, India (BOM) and Sydney, Australia (SYD) on the Cathay Pacific Airlines, it will never show you a connection from Hong Kong to Sydney after 24 hours of your arrival at Hong Kong as part of the same itinerary.
Stopover: A break in the journey between two destinations, mostly with an overnight stay at the connection point. Unlike a layover, which is typically required by the airline itinerary due to the connection schedules, a stopover is a voluntary interruption of the journey by the passenger.
In most cases, the airline will charge a stopover fee if you intend to extend your stay at the connection point beyond 24 hours.
I am sure you will hear people saying layover and stopover are one and the same, but it’s just not true from an airline or IATA perspective
Codeshare: The next time you reach a departure gate and find the flight number displayed on the gate isn’t matching the one on your boarding pass, don’t panic – your airline must be having a codeshare with another airline.
A Codeshare is an agreement between two or more airlines on sharing a flight. The airline that actually operates the flight (provides the crew, aircraft and ground services) is the operating partner and the airline that sell tickets but does not operate it are marketing partners.
This helps airlines in increasing their area of service and adding new routes to their flying map without actually operating the flight.
For example, Aeroflot, which is a Russian Airline, puts Africa on its flying map by having a codeshare with Kenya Airways. Similarly, Alaska Airlines which is based out of Seattle, US shows its connections to Asia by putting its code on Cathay Pacific Airlines.
Alliance: An airline alliance is a strategic grouping of airlines to provide a network of connectivity and convenience for international passengers. The alliance is a larger form of a codeshare agreement with substantial benefits to the airlines and the passengers. The airlines save on the operational and marketing costs and the passengers get lower fares, wider coverage of air miles, thereby creating a win-win for all.
Some of the popular alliances are Star Alliance, Sky Team and One World
Cross-Check: I had no clue about this one before I met my childhood friend last month, who is currently a serving pilot in India’s national carrier.
Flight attendants, doors to arrival and cross-check – what do you ask to cross check, was my question. His reply was in the following lines-
It is a generic term used by pilots and flight attendants directing the cabin crew to verify each other’s action before take-off and landing. The actions are mostly technical tasks like verifying the working function of the emergency slides attached to the door, which are performed by the attendants.
Flight Deck: Good morning from the Flight Deck, this is the captain speaking.
Flight Deck is the control area usually near the front of an aircraft which hosts the pilot and co-pilot. It’s the cockpit.
Knots: A knot is a measure of distance, almost equal to a mile. Better known as Nautical Mile in written language, 1 knot is about 1.8 km only slightly higher than 1 mile which is about 1.6 km.
So now when you hear –the winds at Cape Town are from the southwest at 11 knots – you will know what the pilot means
Air Pocket: If you have been a frequent flier, it’s more likely that you have felt an “air pocket,” or what feels like a quick drop in the air.
An air pocket is a sudden downdraft encountered by an aircraft in flight, known better as turbulence. It is as good as driving your car over a pothole, it may seem bumpy but you are rarely in danger.
Flight Level: We have now reached our cruising altitude of flight level 330. The seat belt sign has been switched off now- if you hear your pilot saying this; just add two zeroes to the flight level and you will know how many thousands of feet you are above mean sea level. FL 330 is 33,000 feet.
Water Landing: Your seat cushion is capable of floating in the unlikely event of a water landing – I mean are you serious? Why the hell would you land on water?
I never seem to have a clue when I hear this from the flight attendant, but theoretically there is such an emergency procedure defined in the pilot’s flight manual. Technically, it’s called “Ditching” where an aircraft without floating capabilities crash lands in water.
It is an extremely rare scenario but there have been quite a few recent instances with only one being successful in terms of saving the lives of all on board.
Read the news report here: Pilot saves over 150 lives with 'textbook ditching' into the Hudson River
RTW: RTW is a Round-The-World ticket offered by quite a few airline alliances which allows you to circumnavigate the planet on a relatively cheaper price.
They are generally priced at US$ 3000 to US$ 10000 depending on the number of stops and days of validity. It can be way cheaper than buying point-to-point tickets if done on the popular routes like NYC-London-Bangkok-Singapore-Sydney-LA-NYC
Taxi: Taxiing is the movement of an aircraft on the ground, under its own power, in contrast to its movement with a help of a tug. So don’t get confused when you are asked to keep your seat belts on during landing or taxi.
Do you have any more jargons in mind? Why not share them in the comments section.