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I have written in the recent past that I consider myself to be a traveler now; I travel relatively often, I understand the jargon, and I only want to travel more. But lately, I’ve realized that my language is evolving into something more. No, I don’t mean that because I travel I’m learning new vocabulary in foreign languages (though that happens too), but rather the way I talk is starting to change.

Specifically, I have become so used to booking tickets and writing about different destinations that I have begun referencing airlines, airports, and even cities with their IATA code designation.

The IATA, or the International Air Transport Association is the major industry trade association of the air travel industry. IATA currently represents over 240 airlines in more than 120 countries. With about 84% of the world’s air traffic as members of the trade group, IATA designations have become the standard protocol used throughout the world at airports and on airlines. Since they represent almost the entire air travel industry, they have set their own standard of designations and rules so that there is less confusion among the members and customers alike. The IATA helps to set prices, established delay codes, but what I really speak of them for is their assignation of the 3-letter IATA airport codes and 2-letter IATA airline designation.

Almost every commercial airport has received its IATA code, and likewise, almost every commercial airline has its IATA code. For airports, these are codes such as “JFK” for New York City’s John F. Kennedy International Airport and “LHR” for London’s Heathrow Airport. About two years ago, I started labeling airports with these 3-letter IATA designations, rather than calling them “Kennedy” or “Heathrow” like I used to. That was the first indication of my budding proficiency in this “traveler’s language.”

About 6 months ago, when referring to airlines, I began writing and speaking about them (at times) with their 2-digit IATA designation. Previously, I might have called American Airlines as “AA,” though I never initially meant to refer to it by its IATA code; it was just easier and it made sense, like “JFK.” However, I quickly continued, calling KLM as “KL,” then Singapore Airlines as “SQ.” Now, I recently found myself calling jetBlue as “B6,” which seems to have nothing to do with its full name.

Though I am quickly becoming proficient in this language of IATA, I still have much more to learn before I’m an expert; frankly, the stuff I’m not familiar with is downright strange, especially if I know it and use it. It seems that they have gone so far as to make 4-letter code designations for the different meal offerings during a flight:

  • HFML – High Fibre Meal
  • LPML – Low Protein Meal
  • ORML – Oriental Meal
  • PRML – Low Purin Meal
  • VJML – Vegetarian Jain Meal
  • VOML – Vegetarian Oriental Meal
  • AVML – Asian Vegetarian Meal
  • BBML – Baby Meal


Maybe I’ll stick with what I know so far ;)

  • BLML – Bland Meal
  • FPML – Fruit Platter Meal
  • GFML – Gluten Intolerant Meal
  • LFML – Low Fat Meal
  • LSML – Low Salt Meal
  • NLML – Low Lactose Meal
  • RVML – Vegetarian Raw Meal
  • VVML – Vegetarian Vegan Meal
  • VLML – Vegetarian Lacto-ovo Meal
  • KSML – Kosher Meal
  • CHML – Children Meal
  • MOML – Moslem Meal
  • SFML – Seafood Meal
  • HNML – Hindu Meal
  • PFML – Peanut Free Meal
  • JNML – Jain Meal