Airline Jargon declassified

If you’ve ever been on an aeroplane, chances are you’ve already heard a few of these terms from the pilot. But have you ever wondered what they mean? To give you some insight into some of the more common words you hear from the “flight deck” or as you would call it, the cockpit:

“Doors to arrival and crosscheck.”

You will usually hear the lead flight attendant say this as your plane approaches the gate. This is to verify that emergency escape slides that are often found to each door of the aircraft have been disarmed.


This term is often used as part of the door arming/disarming procedure. It is commonly used when all flight attendants are requested to phone in from their respective stations. It’s basically a conference call among flight attendants.

“Holding pattern”

Probably one of the most common ones you’d hear during your flight, it means that there is a delay to your landing, often because of traffic or weather delays. Holding patterns are pre-set on aeronautical charts, but it can be improvised just about anywhere.

“At this time”

You’ve probably heard your pilot say that you need to put away all electronics “at this time”. That means to do it right away, no questions asked. These days, it is one of the most common phrases heard on the plane.

“Flight level”

In layman’s terms, it simply states how high up your plane is currently flying. For example, if the pilot says that your current flight level is “three- three zero, it means that the plane is 33,000 feet in the air.

“Last minute paperwork”

For regular flyers, hearing this often means that their flight is going to be delayed. When you hear your pilot says this, it typically means that there will be some changes to the flight plan, minor issues with the plane’s weight and balance record, or they are waiting for the maintenance staff to get the logbook records in order.

“Ground stop”

This means a flight delay due to traffic on the runway, where air traffic control needs to catch up on their backlog before allowing any more new flights to leave.

“Air pocket”

Turbulence can be pretty scary the first time you experience it. In fact, just hearing the word “turbulence” is kind of threatening in itself.

An air pocket is a technical term for turbulence, and it sounds a lot less scary.

“Final approach”

Once you’ve made it through the many obstacles, it’s refreshing to hear the pilot say that you are making a final approach.

This term means that you are almost ready to land and you are making your way towards the runway for landing.

“Direct Flight”

It has nothing to do with the number of stops your flight will take. Instead, it refers to the routing wherein your flight number stays the same.

“Nonstop flight”

This refers to a flight with no stops. You can take a nap and be at your destination when you wake up; depending on how long your flight will be.

Now that you know more about the different terms used for flights, you can easily keep up with the pilots and maybe even share some of your knowledge with your co-passengers.

And when you go to catch your flight, don’t forget to book an airport parking space to make sure that your car is safe and secure while you are away.

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