Flight Attendants Have a Secret Language You Didn't Know About

Airline flight attendants have secret language
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What kind of secrets are flight attendants keeping from passengers? Turns out, it's all hidden in the way they speak.

You've probably noticed that flight attendants use a certain vocabulary when they talk to each other inflight. Certain words like "red eye" or "dead head" might be fairly well known amongst seasoned travelers, but there are a few words that you might not be familiar with.

For those who are unaware, "red eye" refers to flights that are overnight and "dead head" is an airline employee who is on board a flight, but is off duty. Mystery solved.

After learning these terms, you may be intrigued to know more of the secret language flight attendants use to communicate. Well, in truth, they're really just using a short-hand language that other flight attendants are familiar with in order to get the job done as efficiently as possible. In some cases, these terms allow flight attendants to communicate about some of the less-glamorous aspects of their job without troubling passengers.

But, if you're truly curious about these terms, you can easily find definitions all over the internet — some provided by real flight attendants. Some of these terms have very practical uses while others are more of a private joke among people who work in the "friendly skies."

Here are a few terms that flight attendants use to talk to each other while they're in the air. Next time you hear these words, be proud that you're officially in the know.

Galley and galley queen

A galley is essentially the airplane kitchen. This is where flight attendants prepare meals, beverages, and set up other services for the cabin, according to Airportag. A "galley queen" is a slang term for a flight attendant who is particularly territorial over this area and does not like other people intruding in this space, the HuffPost reported.

Jump seat

According to BBC, the jump seat is a special, smaller seat that flight attendants use during take off, landing, and turbulence. It automatically folds up, or "jumps" when the flight attendant stands up, hence the name.

Spinners and runners

These terms are used to identify a seasoned flyer's least favorite passengers, according to BBC. A spinner is a passenger who arrives at the last minute without a seat assignment, so they are told to board the plane and look for a seat. They usually just stand in the aisle looking around, or "spinning." Runners are passengers who are late or are coming from another flight, so they're found running through the airport to catch the flight.

Miracle flight

This may be a little mean spirited, but "miracle flight" is a term used for a passenger who needs the assistance of a wheelchair to board the flight but "miraculously" does not require it to deplane. Apparently, some passengers abuse the system by using a wheelchair to get on a plane early.


This is the wall that divides the aircraft. It's usually before the first row and is also where you can often find the lavatories and galley.


What are all those dings you hear throughout your flight? Flight attendants call them the chimes. They can vary in tone and can mean many different things — for example, if a passenger presses the service button, the pilot calls, or if there's an emergency.

Pink eye

Don't worry, it's not what you think. A pink eye is a flight that's slightly earlier than a red eye: late at night, but not overnight, according to Matador Network. This flight usually doesn't land much later than midnight.

Crotch watch

This is what it's called when a flight attendant is in charge of checking for seat belts, according to the HuffPost.


This happens during arrival or departure, according to BBC. When you hear this, it means flight attendants must double check aircraft doors to ensure they are armed and ready in the event of an evacuation.

Lips and tips

This term refers to a flight attendant who's wearing matching lipstick and nail lacquer, according to Matador Network. It's a subtle reminder that even in the middle of a stressful day of flying, they have to look proper and polished.

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