traveler wordsLike every industry, the airlines have developed their own jargon and slang terms to use. Perhaps it is to not make something said aloud known to us common passengers, or maybe they’ve just used these terms enough as to be unable to separate these words and phrases from their vocabulary.

Here are some interesting words and phrases that pilots, flight attendants, and other airline staff (and even passengers) have adopted and created and use now as their own lingo and slang:

A/C – Crew-speak for the aircraft.

Add-On – A member of the flight that was added to the itinerary at the last minute, such as a flight attendant who was not listed on the flight schedule but was penciled in due to another calling in sick.

“Arm the Doors” – Pre-flight task meaning to make sure that the door is secure and evacuation slides are properly set according to the exits.

Base – Flight crew term for their home airport; where the flights originate from and terminate at.

Bid – When a flight attendant puts in a request for a specific route or schedule, they are bidding.

Blue Juice – The water in the toilet in the restroom, presumably from the days when toilets used those disinfectant bricks in the tanks which colored the water blue; most toilets in airplane restrooms these days don’t usually have a pool of water at the bottom, but rather a small flap.

Blue Room – In airline slang, it is used to refer to the lav/bathroom, due to the other popular term, “blue juice.” The Blue Room can also refer to the airport lounge of the Virgin Australia airline, as it was once named Virgin Blue.

Bottle to Throttle – Curfew hours. In airline parlance, it is the time that a person has between the time they must not have another alcoholic beverage and the time of their next flight; often 12 hours.

Commute – Process of getting to starting destination or base. Pilots and flight attendants may live in one city but have another city as their base, and thus may have to commute there.

Crash Pad – The term used by flight attendants (and sometimes pilots) to refer to a rented apartment; crash pads are usually shared by several flight attendants at a time.

Crotch Watch – Also referred to as a “groin scan,” this is the rounds that the flight attendants make prior to liftoff and descent that ensures that all passengers’ seat belts are on and properly fastened.

Crumb Crunchers – A not-so-diplomatic term that flight attendants use to refer to children passengers.

Deadhead – When an airline employee, such as a pilot or flight attendant, flies as a passenger, they are deadheading if it is part of their job, such as when they aren’t on the clock but need to return to another airport for some reason. Usually a deadheader stays in uniform.

Equipment – The plane itself. When there is an “equipment change,” it usually means they are switching out the aircraft for a different one.

F/A – Flight attendant.

Ferry Flight – Delivery of an aircraft to a specific destination without paying passengers aboard.

Gate Lice – The term used for the crowd of people who amass around the gate and gate agents when anticipating boarding the plane. When the gate lice are thick, that means that this crowd is not letting others board first by blocking the gate.

George – A colloquial term for “autopilot.” This comes from the early days of flight, when pilots found the idea so magical and novel that it felt that they had another pilot in the cockpit with them.

Green Aircraft – Slang term referring to a plane fresh from the factory, and one which has an interior that still isn’t complete.

Groin Scan – Another name for the “crotch watch,” which is when the flight attendants make their rounds to ensure that all seat belts are properly fastened.

Illegal – A working member of an aircraft, whether it be a pilot or flight attendant, who crosses over the maximum hours allowed to work per flight, day, or schedule without sleep or a break.

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  1. Another well used term is “con”. In airline lingo, this is short for “contingent passenger” and is applied to a passenger who is likely an airline employee and travelling on a standby, non-revenue ticket. The “contingent” term refers to the passenger’s status as only being able to travel if all revenue and senior standby ticket holders have been accommodated. If one hears the term “con” from an airline employee, it does NOT mean they are a convict, though travelling standby on busy routes an employee often feels like they are a prisoner at the airport waiting to see if there is an available seat on the NEXT flight out.

  2. Slang from the engineers crew room.
    cabin staff can be refered to by engineers as “cart tarts” or “trolly dolly’s” both of which would earn you a slap if they were to over hear refer to them as that lol.
    “Blue ice” that leaking toilet valve as water leaks out and freezes on the outside as the a/c is on decent air warms up and it falls off onto some ones house who then puts in the freezer to show people what fell on their house!
    ” Honey cart” toilet servicing cart/truck
    Pilots “monkeys” as now every thing is controlled by computer “it’s light on-switch-reward ie light off”) and thats what monkeys do for their reward ie banana’s
    “self loading freight” = passengers
    “crash position” = we are all going to die!
    “pickings” engineers term for raiding the galley after a flight to whats good to eat or take to crew room for later. 1st class is the best for pickings!
    “jungle juice” =fuel
    “bit for mum” = wife and kids, pilots putting extra fuel on over and above flight plan load.
    “hair dryer” =air start unit
    “Pram” = turbo prop a/c
    “shed” = shorts 360 a/c
    ” Concorde”= the sexest a/c ever made
    “pocket rocket” Bac 1-11= fixed thrust variable noise
    “big pocket rocket” Vickers VC10 2nd sexest a/c ever made even more noise.
    “CAA desert” thats when you are on detachment with a a/c with limited support.
    “party time” going on the Haj detachment to the CAA desert with one DC10 and 4 crews of girls (36) and only 12 flt deck crew! for 5 to 6 weeks!

    After over 47 years in a/c engineering and still enjoying it, all be semi-retired it’s a career that I would do over again.


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