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Aviation and Cabin Crew Jargon Explained

Have you ever heard cabin crew talking about ‘Crop dusting in cattle class?’ And who is this mysterious ‘Bob’ they keep referring to? Surely a ‘Stroke and grope’ can’t mean what it sounds like and what the hell is a ‘Gash bag’?

Well wonder no more. As part of our Confessions of a Trolley Dolly Cabin Crew Manual and for all you nosey passengers and wannabe Trolley Dollies, we’ve compiled THE complete list of all our aviation and cabin crew jargon, guiding you through some of our best kept secrets.


‘Able Bodied Passengers’, those passengers crew would select to assist in an emergency. Priority is given to off duty flight/cabin crew and those in the emergency services or military. If you want to sit by the emergency exits, we have a list of criteria you must meet to be privileged with that extra leg room. ‘With extra leg room comes great responsibility’.

Actual Flying Time
The time it takes from when chocks are removed at the point of departure, to when they’re replaced upon arrival at your destination.

Air Pocket
A term for an area of turbulence. Many of us will have experienced that ‘falling’ sensation when an aircraft enters an air pocket, although you rarely gain or lose more than a few feet, so far all you nervous flyers don’t worry we won’t fall out of the sky. An actual ‘pocket’ in the air does not technically exist, but the expression caught on in the early days of flying and remains in use today.

An ‘Aircraft on Ground’ is one that is unserviceable and awaiting spares to be fixed. Airlines hate AOG as an aircraft not flying is not making any money.

Like ‘Ramp’ this is any expanse of tarmac at an airport that’s not a runway or taxiway, the areas where aircraft park.

Area of Weather
Exactly what it sounds like, an area of bad weather, typically thunderstorms or a zone of heavy rain or snowfall. An area of weather is something pilots will want to avoid and wherever possible will change the aircrafts course to do so.


Arm and Cross Check
‘All doors are armed and cross dressed’. Possibly one of the oldest cabin crew sayings. Before departure, all the aircrafts exits are put into emergency mode. One crew member (usually those in charge), will request the other crew ‘arm’ their doors, meaning should the shit hit the fan and the door need to be opened, the escape slide would automatically deploy. The ‘cross-check’ part is where we physically check the opposite door has also been armed. You tend to hear cross check on larger aircraft and double-check on smaller planes.

At This Time
For example, “At this time, we’d like you to return to your seats and fasten your seat belts”. It’s our polite way of saying we want you to do something NOW. Some say that this is air travel’s signature euphemism.

Air Traffic Control, the ground based personnel and equipment who control and monitor air traffic within a particular area. The French ones are always on strike.

All Call
A cabin crew ‘conference call’. Using the aircrafts intercom system, it allows each flight attendant to report from his or her door/crew station and is useful in time sensitive emergencies.

Blue Juice
On older aircraft the lavatory water is coloured blue. If you hear us saying “The lav is out of blue juice,” you might want to hold it in.


‘Best On Board’ the eye candy, the best looking passenger. If your cabin crew are constantly walking past and looking in your direction, chances are you’re this flights ‘BOB’.
It can also mean ‘Battery Operated Boyfriend’. You can use your imagination. Well some of those trips away can be long and lonely.

Bottle to Throttle
Air crews drinking curfew hours. The cut-off time we’re allowed to have an alcoholic drink before the start of our next duty. Not always adhered to I’ll be honest.

Many airlines allow their crew to ‘bid’ for the best trips and flights. Obviously the longer you’ve been flying, the more preference you’re given, but seniority takes time. It’s at least a year before you start to get even a little of what you bid for and as some routes are more popular than others, it may take new starters a while to reach their dream destinations.

Cattle Class
Economy. The cheap seats at the back. Do I look like I fly economy?

C & D
You’ve eaten too many leftovers from first class; shared one too many tubs of crew Pringle’s and your bum’s got a little large and hits the aisle seats ‘C & D’ on the way to the galley.

Also known as Captain, the pilot, the person sitting in the left hand seat. Some like to be referred to as God. There’s an old joke about our wonderful Commander ‘What is the difference between God and a captain? God doesn’t think he’s a captain’. See also PILF.

Crew Scheduling/Crewing
Sometimes referred to as ‘screwing’. Cabin crew have a love/hate relationship with these boys and girls, well no one likes being called out at 4am and they often feel the same about us. However, they work very hard and are a crucial part of every airline, making sure every crew member is in the right place at the right time.

Crop Dusting
Flying causes bloating and trapped wind. Sometimes we need to release this trapped wind and some crew do this using a method called ‘crop dusting’. This involves taking a stroll down the aisle and distributing said wind throughout the cabin. One should ALWAYS crop dust from the front to the back. That way, when the stench reaches the passengers, you’re safely hidden away in the galley.

Always crop dust from front to back.
-and-cabin-crew-jargon-explained/dust1/” rel=”attachment wp-att-2089″> Always crop dust from front to back.

Crotch Watch
Cleverly disguised as crew checking passenger seat belts are fastened, but basically we’re checking out what our male passengers are carrying in their trouser departments “Is that a jumbo jet in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me”. Best carried out during the morning when men can be seen in all their ‘glory’

CSM/CSD/SCCM/Purser/Cabin Manager
Cabin Service Manager, Crew Service Manager, Cabin Service Director, C*nt Standing at the Door. Senior Cabin Crew Member. The boss in the cabin, in charge of the other flight attendants.

A deadheading pilot or flight attendant is one repositioning back to base as a passenger after working away. If you get called a ‘deadhead’ it also means you’re a little dull.

This happens after every flight. We take a few minutes to discuss what has happened during the duty. It’s also the time we grab as much left over wine, spirits, beer or champagne from the carts as we can for our room parties back at the hotel and when we decide which bar we will be meeting at later.

My kind of debrief!
My kind of debrief!

A REALLY senior flight attendant. Every crew member starts off thinking they will only fly a few years, myself included. But as the years go by and time literally does fly, you end up sticking around, well there’s worse jobs.

An emergency landing into water. These usually don’t end well, unless of course your aircraft is being flown by Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger who miraculously landed a fully laden Airbus A320 into the Hudson River back in 2009. The full story can be found here.

Doors to Arrival/Manual and Cross Check
Following on from ‘Arm and Cross Check’, upon arrival the doors will be returned to their manual setting so that when we open them there’s no accidental slide deployment.

The ‘Demo’
The part where we mess up our perfectly coiffed hair and wave our arms around while passengers read their newspapers, talk amongst themselves and generally pay no attention whatsoever. Our priority is always your safety so do us a favour and pay attention, it only takes a few minutes.

Dry Stores
Non perishable items loaded in aircraft galleys such as tea, coffee, sugar, cups, glasses, napkins etc. Should ALWAYS be left neat and tidy for the next crew.

Easy Victor
A code, rarely used these days, by crew to initiate an emergency evacuation.

Can refer to our emergency equipment such as smoke hoods, portable oxygen, fire extinguishers etc, but can also refer to the aircraft itself. For example “Due to an equipment change, departure for Heathrow is delayed three hours”.

Ferry Flight
Taking an empty aircraft from one place to another. Passengers never fly on ferry flights so for cabin crew, it’s a chance to have some fun. Taking the jump seat in the flight deck for take-off and landing or ‘aisles surfing’ by standing or sitting on a serving tray and sliding down the cabin on take-off.

Final Approach
One from the pilots. An aircraft is on ‘final approach’ when it has reached the last, straight-in segment of the landing pattern and is aligned with the extended centreline of the runway.

Final and Immediate Boarding Call
Ground crews polite way of telling all those slow-moving passengers wandering around duty-free to get their asses in gear and get to the gate. If you’re late we won’t wait.

First Officer
Better known as the co-pilot. He or she is fully qualified to operate the aircraft through all stages of flight, including takeoffs and landings and takes turns doing so with the Captain. Until they’ve earned their stripes first officers should be seen and not heard.

Flight Deck/Cockpit
The pointy end. The place full of switches, lights and knobs, where our very own knobs fly the plane. You may hear the crew say ‘Do the flight deck need anything?’ We’re not referring to the area on the aircraft, we mean the boys and girls sat in there.

Flight Deck Floozie
The crew that shamelessly look for every opportunity to get into the pilots pants. Some are so blatant in their flirting, it can turn cringeworthy and even the pilots they’re flirting with will try to escape their clutches. Sometimes called a ‘cockpit queen’.

Flight Level
The fancy way of saying how many thousands of feet you are above sea level. For example ‘flight level three-five zero’ is 35,000 feet.

Foxtrot Oscar
Our polite way of saying FUCK OFF!

Gash Bag/Doing a Gash
Cabin crew do a gash, using a gash bag, passing through the cabin to collect your rubbish. This is an old military term, apparently if you were the gash man in the navy you got all the rubbish jobs.

Our office. Our rest area. Our kitchen. It’s one of the few places onboard we can retreat and lick our wounds after dealing with our ‘wonderful’ passengers. If the curtain is closed its our polite way of telling you to Foxtrot Oscar. If you’d like to know more about what goes on behind that curtain then check out ‘What Happens in the Galley, Stays in the Galley’.

Galley Bitch/Galley Slave
The crew member in charge of the galley. On larger aircraft or on short-haul flights this can be a stressful and demanding role. Organisation is the key, hence why many crew will agree that ‘A tidy galley is a happy galley’.

Galley FM
Every crew member LOVES a bit of Galley FM gossip. From the boring rumours of new routes, new bases, new uniforms, new service standards etc to the juicy gossip of whose shagging who, whose been naughty, who’s been sacked and who’s pregnant.

Hat Bin
Back in the ‘Jet-Set’ era of the 1950’s and 60’s overhead lockers were actually called hat bins. Long before people brought their oversized hand luggage, ladies simply carried their purses and hats, placed in the hat bin to avoid being crushed.

The Hold
This can mean two things. Many passengers will know this as the area onboard the aircraft where your checked in baggage is stored during the flight. It can also mean the holding area above the airport where planes circle and hold waiting to be given permission to land. “We’re in the hold” or “We’ll be in the hold for about fifteen minutes”.

Inoperative. Out of use. Usually broken equipment on the aircraft covered in gaffer tape. Can also refer to INOP/exhausted crew members.

Jump Seat
The retractable crew seat where we take the weight off our feet during take off and landing and have a good gossip, sorry I mean carry out our safety review. NOT to be sat on by passengers waiting for the toilet.

Last-Minute Paperwork
Doors are closed, we’re all ready to go. Then you hear that we’re waiting for some ‘last minute paperwork’ which ends up taking forever to arrive. Usually it’s something to do with the weight-and-balance record, a revision to the flight plan, or waiting for engineers to deal with a write-up and get the aircraft logbook in order. “It shouldn’t be too long madam. I’ll come back to you with some more information as soon as I have it” I lie. For our Top Ten Cabin Crew Lies click here.

A layover for air crew occurs after working a trip to a destination away from our home base. A definite perk of the job. Many crew are very lucky, getting to stay in some of the world’s top hotels in stunning destinations. Quite often though we’re that exhausted from the flights, jet-lag and time difference that all we want to do is sleep. Crew can get anywhere from a day to week layover, depending on the route and destination.

Shit’s going down. The ultimate international radio distress call, indicating imminent danger to the life of the occupants onboard and requiring immediate assistance.

Our public announcements. You really should listen to them, they contain lots of useful information and if you don’t listen you might miss something important and then ask me stupid questions like ‘What time do we land’, ‘How high are we flying’ or ‘What drinks do you have’ when we’ve literally just told you all this. PA’s can also be quite funny and for some of the best, head over to our Confessions of a Trolley Dolly Cabin Crew Manual Public Announcements section.

Pan Pan
International radio urgency call. It usually indicates a threat to the safety of an aircraft or its passengers. Less urgent than Mayday.

The abbreviation we use for passengers. Believe me there are much worse things we call them.  The A-Z of Airline Passengers.

Passenger Manifest
The name list of our lovely guests and where you’re sitting, so if you’re rude to us, we know exactly who you are. Also helpful for identification purposes, should we plow in to the side of a mountain.

Pilot I’d Like to Fuck. Not that there’s many and those that are half decent are probably riddled after a night with the flight deck floosie. Although, as this picture shows, there are always exceptions to the rule.


Plonkey Kits
This originates from ships galleys. Our plonkey kits are the small bag of essential items we carry in our crew luggage. They usually contain ice tongs, oven gloves, spare uniform, a sewing kit, clothes brush, phone charger and spare clothes, should we have an unscheduled night stop, plus some other ‘personal’ such as those battery operated boyfriends.

The area around the terminal building where aircraft park and are tended to by ground vehicles. This phrase dates back to the early days of aviation, back then if a plane wasn’t flying, it was either on the water or ‘on the ramp’.

The time when your airline basically owns your ass. Crew play standby roulette sat at home or at the airport waiting for the phone to ring, ready to cover a flight that is short of a crew member. Being on reserve is usually the plight of those junior boys and girls who can’t win bids.

Used by pilots and air traffic control to indicate that an instruction has been received and understood.

Somebody Else’s Problem or its official title, Safety and Emergency Procedures.

A crew member who doesn’t socialise after a flight because they’re either boring or too tired and go straight to their hotel room, slam the door and click the lock.

Standard Operating Procedures. The day-to-day procedures flight attendants perform onboard, procedures we know like the back of our hand and could do in our sleep.

When airflow over the wing slows down too much and causes a loss of lift. This can be catastrophic.

Stroke and Grope
Not as kinky as it sounds. It’s basically how we carry out our security checks onboard – stroke the seat and grope the life jacket pouch.

When the inflight service is started in the middle of the cabin and the trolleys work out towards the galleys.

A Squawk is a transmitted code indicating a problems or discrepancies with an aircraft. For example:
7700 – Mayday/ Emergency
7600 – Radio Failure/ Lost communication
7500 – Hijacking

Tea and Biscuits
When you’ve been a naughty boy or girl and get hauled into the office for a meeting or investigation. ‘Tea and NO biscuits’ means you can kiss your flying career goodbye.

A passenger who is ‘Too Fat To Fit’ and requires an extension belt.


Referring to a trip that takes you to your destination and back in one day, i.e. London – Madrid – London. These trips are popular with crew, especially those with children as it means they can go to work and be home in time for dinner.

Top of The Drop
Also known as ‘top of descent’ referring to the point where we start descending for landing.

Touch Up Before Touch Down/Landing Lips
As cabin crew, we always have to look our glamorous best, even after an arduous 15 hour flight. So before touch down the girls (and boys) will head to the crew rest or toilets to re-apply make-up, fix our hair and put on a fresh layer of lippy so we appear fresh as a daisy before landing.

Virgin Atlantic and bareMinerals are giving passengers a taste of the high life this summer with the creation of a bespoke lip colour ‘Upper Class Red’ – to mark the launch of the airline’s redesigned Upper Class cabin which takes to the skies this spring.

Unaccompanied Monster, sorry Minor.

Wake Turbulence
Turbulence that forms behind an aircraft as it passes through the air. Behind a large heavy aircraft, wake turbulence can be powerful enough to roll or even break up a smaller aircraft.

Wagon train
This is when two inflight services follow on behind each other, e.g. drinks, immediately followed by perfumes and gifts. We frequently do this on short flights.

We’ve met
This is what crew say as we meet in the aisle when doing our cabin secure checks on seat belts etc, or after we’ve completed a service.

Wheels-up time
Referring to the point when an aircraft is expected to be fully airborne. Flight crew must plan to be at or near the runway as close to this time as possible.

Change in wind speed and/or direction over a short distance, resulting in a tearing or shearing effect, that can cause a sudden loss of airspeed with occasionally disastrous results, if encountered when taking-off or landing.

Used by airlines and crew around the world for times of flight operations. Formerly Greenwich Mean Time, now coordinated Universal Time.

© by Dan Air.

About Confessions of a Trolley Dolly (86 Articles) brought to you by International Gay Trolley Dolly, Dan Air ! Come & join us onboard as we take a peek behind the galley curtain with all your cabin crew & aviation news, galley gossip, glamour & humerous tales of life at 39,000 feet!

1 Comment on Aviation and Cabin Crew Jargon Explained

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  1. 20 Things You Should NEVER Say To Your Cabin Crew – Confessions of a Trolley Dolly

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