Have you ever found yourself sitting in an uncomfortable chair in the airport, or buckling up in the airplane itself, only to realize that everyone is speaking in some sort of code and you didn’t get the memo? Airport jargon can be extremely confusing, but if you learn a few of the basic meanings beforehand, then the airport shouldn’t be too much of a foreign experience.
Air travel terms can be broken up into two separate categories: on the ground, and in the air. Let’s start with lingo that you will hear while your feet are still on the ground.
Area of Weather
A ground stop is a procedure in which all aircraft are not permitted to take off or land at a particular airport. This usually takes place during severe storms, heavy air traffic, or sometimes, nearby terrorist attacks. This is a security measure put in effect to avoid accidents.
In the event of a ground stop, outbound flights are delayed; incoming flights either circle around or are diverted to other cities. Passengers will be asked to wait in their aircraft (or at the airport) until circumstances improve.
An airport kiosk is an interactive, computerized device where people can get information or services. These are usually located throughout an airport terminal for easy access. A kiosk may be consulted about flight status, flight schedules or other inquiries. Some kiosks may be set up with a keyboard and mouse, while others may provide a user-friendly touch screen.
Not all kiosks are computerized. Some are simply free-standing booths or tables manned by salespeople, where passengers can buy magazines, snacks or souvenirs.
People Mover / Moving Walkway
Typically, a ramp is an inclined plane that allows transit between two areas that have different levels. In an airport, this word refers to a staircase with wheels, which is used to load or unload an airplane.
The word is also used in sea travel, referring to an inclined walkway installed between the vessel and the port.
The scheduled time for take-off and arrival by an aircraft.
The surfacing material used for airport runways, usually consisting of compressed stone or iron slag coated with tar. The term is short for "tarmacadam".
"Tarmacadam" is an improvement on a road-making method called macadamisation, developed by in Scottish road engineer, John Loudon McAdam in the 1800s. Macadamisation basically involves layers of stone coated with a binder or cement; Tarmacadam uses a specialized tar for a flatter surface.
In an airport, the word "tower" usually refers to the Air Traffic Control Tower (ATCT). This is a ground-based center that provides direction for aircraft, whether on the runway or in the air. From the towers, Air traffic controllers give instructions to pilots in the aircraft; these directions are for facilitating the flow of traffic, assisting pilots with relevant information, and for preventing accidents.