Have you ever been walking through an airport terminal, boarding a flight, or sitting in your seat on a plane feeling confused, thinking to yourself, “what are they talking about?” You’re not alone. We’re good at using words you’ve never heard before. Or using them in a completely different context. Here’s a handy guide to help you navigate our language:
BASE: The city from which flight attendants and pilots begin their trips.
COMMUTERS: Flight attendants and pilots who do not live in their base. They fly, or “commute” to their base to start their trips.
CRASH PAD: An apartment or residence rented and shared by a group of commuting flight attendants and/or pilots in their base.
DEADHEADING: When crewmembers travel as passengers, in passenger seats, not working crew, on a flight, as part of their trip. Absolutely nothing to do with Jerry Garcia.
FLIGHT CREW: AKA crew or crewmembers. Pilots and flight attendants.
FLIGHT DECK: AKA cockpit. The forward nose of the aircraft where pilots sit and fly the plane.
FLIGHT TIME: The time between wheels up and touch down of your airplane. This time will be less than what is quoted on your itinerary as that includes taxi time before takeoff and after landing.
GALLEY: The kitchen and storage area onboard the airplane where beverages and catering supplies are stored and where you can find flight attendants when we’re not in the aisle.
GATE: The numbered area in the airport from which your flight departs.
JETWAY: AKA jetbridge. The moving hallway on wheels that links the airplane and the gate area or terminal.
JUMPSEAT: The seat flight attendants occupy during take off and landing located near exits.
LAYOVER: The time crewmembers spend not flying, in a hotel, normally in a city that is not their base, during a trip. Hopefully time for some fun and rest.
LOAD FACTOR: An extra flight attendant that joins an established crew for a flight with a full load of passengers. Also used by airlines as a measure of how full their seats are overall.
PLACARD: Signage on the airplane.
SIT: The time in between your flights in an airport. I bet you call this a layover!
STEWARDESS: An outdated term for a flight attendant. Stewardesses wore white gloves and cute hats.
TERMINAL: AKA concourse. Different buildings or sections of an airport, lettered or numbered and used by different airlines.
TRIP: AKA pairing or rotation. What we call our scheduled flight days, may be one to six or more days of flying, scheduled with flights and layovers.
TURNAROUND: AKA turn. A one day trip where all flights are flown in one day with no layover, beginning and ending at base.
UPPER DECK: Upstairs or second level of an airplane.
WHEELS UP: The moment the wheels of the plane lift off the ground during take off and the time the actual flight time “clock” starts.