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Behind The Scenes At 40,000 Feet: Airline Codewords, Secrets, And Tips

Flight has long been something that humans have strived for. Whether it be the invention of the wheel or the creation of the first ever successful airplane by the Wright brothers, humans have always tried to make their mode of transportation more efficient.

The IATA or the International Air Transport Association is a trade association that represents more than 280 airlines around the world and represents almost 85 percent of the world’s total air traffic. Because of this, the IATA is able to compile tons of data on airlines, passengers and airports from all over the world.

In the year 2017 alone, the IATA estimates that more than five and a half trillion dollars worth of goods was shipped around the world in 2016. The agency also estimated that tourists who traveled by air spent a total of 650 billion dollars in 2016! The IATA ranked American Airlines as the number one passenger airline followed by Delta, United, Emirates and then China Southern Airlines. The IATA found that the Asia Pacific took up 33.6 percent of the air traffic, followed by Europe, which took up 26 percent, and then North America which came in at just under 23 percent.

And with so many people flying around the world on so many occasions, it is time we debunked the codewords, symbols, signals, and secrets that airline employees share with one another. In addition, we will also examine any hints and tricks that are provided by airline employees themselves. Patrick Smith is the author of the New York Times bestseller, Cockpit Confidential: Everything You Need To Know About Air Travel and he is also a blogger at

In his book, he describes and explains certain codewords that airline employees use. Here are some of the most interesting ones.

Before anyone is even allowed to board a plane, the plane must go through a round of inspections. Whether it is for sanitary or hygienic purposes, the plane must be inspected by officials and staff before passengers can board. As Patrick Smith explains, when airline employees say ‘doors to arrival’ it simply means disarming the emergency escape.


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