The Secret Language of Flight Attendants

chicago limo, limo service chicagoAny time people form themselves into groups, they typically develop special jargon to describe the particulars of their situation, job or shared goals. The workers in the skies are no exception. If you are a seasoned traveler, you may have heard some of the specialized terms used by the cabin crew and wondered what they meant.

For example, did you know that female flight attendants will call themselves “senior mamas?” That’s the term they give to the veterans among their ranks, according to a recent article at Business Insider.


If you’re a stickler for proper English usage, the term “deplane” may make you grit your teeth. Flight attendants use this term for getting off the airplane instead of the more proper term, “disembark.”

Flip Flop

This does not refer to the casual sandals you wear on the beach. You shouldn’t wear flip-flops on a plane for safety reasons (even if you are flying to a tropical paradise!). A flip flop occurs when a flight attendant has to fly on a red eye flight that arrives early in the morning, sleeps during the layover and then has to get back in the skies the very next morning (as early as 5 or 6 a.m.).

Hot Room

Sometimes referred to as standby reserve or “the couch,” a hot room is a place at the airport where reserve flight attendants must cool their jets, sticking around while waiting to see if an airline needs to deploy them. Attendants often find out just moments before the flight where they will be going.

Lips and Tips

This term has to do with female flight attendants who always have to look their best, even when working on long-duration flights and getting by with minimal sleep and meals caught on the run.

Pink Eye

You’ve heard of “red eye,” the term used to indicate a lengthy trip in the middle of the night. Flight attendants refer to “pink eye” for flights that get close to 1 a.m. but aren’t so late to qualify as a full-fledged red eye flight.


This is not the sound you make when you’re trying to figure out what to say next during a conversation. “UM” stands for unaccompanied minor. Flight attendants have to look after young people frequently enough that they have a shortcut term to describe them.

It’s fun to learn about the jargon used by various professions. You’ll get insight into their working lives and may gain a greater appreciation for their daily struggles.

Posted on Apr 30 2015