Airline Jargon Explained

The Flight4 Air Aviation Jargon list provides explanations and meaning to some of the less obvious terms used by the airline industry in relation to general aviation, flight and airline reservation systems, passenger administration, air fares and ticketing.

ABC - (Advance booking charter) A charter flight that requires a minimum advance booking period.

Able-bodied passenger.

Accompanied Baggage.
Baggage carried onboard a flight by the passenger.

Type of aircraft used (Equipment aircraft type).

Administrating Carrier.
The airline controlling the operation of a flight.

Air Passenger Duty.
A charge payable on tickets for flights departing the UK.

Aircraft Configuration.
Layout of aircraft interior space and seating.

Airport Code.
A unique tree-letter code used by the aviation industry and given to every airport in the world.

The area of airport beyond the passport and security check areas.

The International strategic groupings of airlines: StarAlliance, Oneworld.

Air Operators Certificate.


Arrival Time.
The flight arrival time is always given in local time of destination.

Airline Reservation System used by airlines to manage ticket sales and passenger flight administration.

Available seat kilometers or miles refers to the number of seats for sale multiplied by the distance of flight.

Aircraft traffic control.

British Airports Authority. Owner of several major UK and International airports

Block Spacing.
Allocation of flight seats sold through another airline.

Civil Aviation Authority.

Refers to the operational Airline.

Charter Aircraft.
Flight hired by one or more tour and flight only operators. Most seats are sold in seven or fourteen night accommodation packages in which passengers are usually unable to change the booking or reservation details.

Circle Pacific Fare.
Air fares offered by some carriers to the Pacific Rim (Australia, Asia, North and South America) usually with four stopovers, and travelling in only a clockwise or anti-clockwise direction.

City Pair.
The origin and destination cities of a flight segment or segments.

Code Share.
When one journey is given two flight numbers because the flight is jointly operated by two different airlines.

Conjunction Tickets.
A set of airline flight tickets that are issued at the same time to cover an itinerary.

Computer reservation systems used by Airlines to book and administer flight seat reservations.

A non-paying passenger or a flight with no passengers.

Denied Boarding Compensation.
Payment made by an airline to passengers when confirmed reservations are not honored (often due to overbooking).

(Designator) A unique code given to each airline.

Direct Flight.
Is a flight that can make stopovers prior to its destination point, but passengers do not usually disembark the aircraft.

Fast Track.
Is an Express transit facility usually but not always reserved for First and Business Class passengers.

Flag Carrier.
An airline designated by a national government.

Funnel Flight.
Is a flight operated by more than one airline but identified by the airline designator and flight number of only one of them.

Flight Number or Designator.
A unique code for each scheduled service. The first two letters indicate the carrier or airline then several numbers identifying the route.

Joint Operational Flight.
Is when more than one airline operates a flight.

Refers to the area of airport before passport control. Landside can also be defined as the areas of the airport which do not require passengers to undergo full security screening to gain access.

Refers to a scheduled interruption of a journey, usually including an overnight stay.

Long Haul.
Usually refers to flights operating longer than four hours duration.

Loyalty/Rewards Programmes.
A system of benefits offered to business or regular travellers to encourage repeat custom.

Refers to the minimum connecting time or the minimum time required for a passenger to change aircraft or planes at an airport.

Generally refers to the arrival or departure of flights through the airport system.

Multi Sector.
A journey or travel itinerary with one or more transit stops (sectors).

Originating Flight.
Is the 0utward journey as indicated by flight number.

Abbreviation for Passenger.

Piece System.
The baggage allowance in numbers of item. The letters 2PC indicates the traveller can check in two cases of bags.

Relates to the seating legroom on flights, the greater the pitch the greater the legroom.

Pre Clearance.
Is when customs and immigration clearance for a destination is made available prior to departure.

Is short for Passenger Name Record. A unique code made up of letters and numbers for each flight reservation made on a global airline reservation system.

Means Pre Paid Ticket Advise. A notification that a passenger's ticket has been paid for by someone else.

How far a seat pitch pushes back.

Red Eye.
Flights that land early morning after an overnight flight.

Refers to the return journey of an aircraft.

This abbreviation refers to the code used for a shared airline designator.

Is a single leg between stops on an aircraft journey.

Short Haul Flight.
Usually refers to flight journey that last for less than four hours duration.

Abbreviations for schedule of a flight plan.

Departure Slot.
A set time when runway is assigned for a flight to take-off or land.

Is the situation when a traveller without a reservation is waiting for a seat on a flight to become available. The passenger is usually asked to report to the gate shortly before departure.

When a traveller leaves the airport and returns shortly to continue the journey.

Stands for transfer connection.

Terminating Flight.
Inward journey as indicted by flight number.

Traffic Conference Areas.
TCA's is the IATA's classification of the world's major airline routes: TCA1 refers to North and South America. TCA2 refers to Europe and Africa. TCA3 refers to Asia and Australasia.

Transit Flight.
Air journey between parts of an airport while en route.

Transit Time.
Is the Non-Flying period of aircraft while in operation.

The time taken between an aircraft landing and taking off again.

Means Universal Time Coordinates same as GMT.

Wait listing.
Refers to a situation when a flight is full but a traveller waits to be notified if a seat subsequently becomes available.

Weight System.
The baggage allowance according to weight.

Wide Body.
Aircraft with two aisles in the passenger cabin.

Refers to the same as Greenwich Mean Time (GMT).