Friday, May 14, 2010

Airline Dictionary

Have you flown lately? Fun, isn't it? Between the airlines working hard to squeeze every possible cent out of you and morons putting explosives in their shoes and underwear, flying has gotten to be a pain.

But, as a public service, I'm prepared to help you understand what the airlines are doing behind your back. I have managed to acquire a copy of the official Airline Dictionary, which defines the specialized words and phrases that are used commonly by airline employees, but for which the meanings may not be obvious to outsiders. Perhaps it will help add some transparency and clarity to airline operations, and help you better cope with the rigors of modern air travel. Here we go...

Passenger - A bovine creature of widely varying intellect, usually found in pairs or small groups. Often will become vicious and violent in simple and easily rectified situations. When frightened or confused these creatures collect into a group called a "line." This "line" has no set pattern and is usually formed in inconvenient places. Passengers are of four known species: Paxus iratus, Paxus latus, Paxus inebriatus, and Paxus ignoramus.

Pre-Board – A passenger who arrives at the gate five minutes before departure.

Voluntary Oversale - A passenger who arrives at the gate as the jetway is coming off the flight.

No-Record - Any passenger booked through a travel agency.

Non-Revenue Position - Usually can be identified by the fact that these passengers are in first class and are dressed in pilot or flight attendant uniforms. Non-revenue positions are permitted to fly first class free of charge to prevent revenue passengers from being able to pay first class passenger charges.

Group - A large loud pack of passengers traveling together. The group leader, who has the tickets, usually waits in the bar until the required pre-board time of five minutes before departure, or until there are no seats left together, whichever occurs last. Reservation agents are prohibited from pre-assigning seats to groups as this may convenience them.

Sign - An airport decoration. Usually unnoticed except by small children. Its primary function is to hide the location of various areas of the airport, i.e., gate numbers, rest rooms, baggage claim, etc.

Position Closed - A sign posted at ticket counters to indicate locations at which passengers may form lines and complain.

Gate Number - a randomly-assigned designation for the location at which a departing flight may perhaps be found. Subject to change without notice and, when designating the location of a connecting flight, is always located at the maximum possible distance from the gate number of arrival.

Baggage Claim - The most difficult area of the airport to find. It is usually hidden by numerous signs saying, "Baggage Claim Area."

Rest Room - definition is irrelevant, as these are always closed for cleaning or maintenance.

Carry On Bag - An item, usually of enormous dimensions, which somehow managed to fit under the passenger's seat on the inbound flight. Regardless of what the passenger says, the following are not acceptable as carry-on items: bicycles, steamer trunks, refrigerators, truck tires, or upright pianos.

Flight Schedule - An entertaining work of fiction.

On Time - An obscure term, meaning unknown.

Fog - A natural weather phenomenon which usually occurs around an airport while the surrounding areas are clear. Fog is controlled by the airlines and is used to delay flights.

Air Traffic Control - A game played by airline pilots and air traffic controllers. The game has no rules, and neither side knows how it is played, but the goal is to prevent flights from arriving in time for passengers to make connecting flights. (John?)

Ticket Agent - A superhuman with the patience of a saint, the herding ability of an Australian sheepdog, the E.S.P. abilities of Uri Geller, the compassion of a psychoanalyst, and and the tact of a diplomat. They have mysterious abilities to control all weather phenomena and know the precise location and status of every flight operated by any airline. They are able to answer three questions at one time, while simultaneously talking on the phone and typing, without stuttering or choking on their tongues. Later in life they sit in parks carrying on mysterious conversations with themselves.

I hope this has helped you better understand the industry which - literally - holds your life in its hands for a few hours at a time. If you learn of any airline dictionary entries I've missed, please either add them in a comment or e-mail them to me so I can share them with others as a public service.

You're welcome.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow, when Cartoon Saturday returns.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

These are the posts that make me glad that I have an irrational or perhaps not so irrational fear of air travel

Mike said...

The distance I would rather drive than fly keeps getting longer and longer.

Jean-Luc Picard said...

These are established facts that all air travellers know.

Gotfam said...

I wonder how the airlines would define "fees" or "delay"....those things always seem to come up when I travel.