Charlotte Foster

Travel Trouble

What the code words and phrases used by cabin crew really mean

What the code words and phrases used by cabin crew really mean

Most cabin crew members converse with each other in an interesting way to not alert passengers to their conversations. 

Flying doctor Ben MacFarlane has spent a lot of time on planes, and has become privy to the unique ways cabin crew discuss parts of the job while in the air. 

Many of their phrases would seem like gibberish to the average flyer, but once you know what keywords to look out for, they all start to make sense. 

Here are just a few of the phrases cabin crew have decoded for the flying doctor, as he told MailOnline.  

“Is Tom Cruise on board?”

If you ever hear cabin crew use this phrase, it is actually not linked to the famous movie star being a passenger. 

Instead, it refers to the identical pots of tea and coffee on the meal service trolleys, and helps staff identify which pot is which. 

As Ben says, “If 'Tom Cruise is on board' then crew are following T&C positions that day.” 

“Tea, Tom, is in the pot on the left of the cart. Coffee, Cruise, is in the identical pot on the right. Simples.”

“Do you want to sing or dance?”

This phrase refers to the safety demonstration at the beginning of a flight.

“Some crew like to have the microphone and read out the words of the PA,” said Ben.

“Others prefer to stand in the cabin doing the actions with the seat belt and life jacket.” 

“Pick the PA role and you sing. Do the demo and you dance.”

“Have you found Bob yet?”

This phrase is more likely to be heard on a long haul flight when cabin crew have more time on their hands. 

Bob is not an individual person, but rather refers to the Best On Board. 

According to the flying doctor, “Every cabin crew member looks for theirs: the most beautiful woman or hottest guy they fancy the most.”

“That’s my ABP”

ABP is cabin crew code for an Able-Bodied Person.

Cabin crew often earmark a strong, able-bodied person to help in case of an emergency landing. 

This person may be asked to organise passengers in a calm and orderly queue while waiting for emergency aids. 

“I’m off to the coffins”

This doesn’t refer to actual coffins, but a designated sleeping zone for cabin crew during a longer flight. 

“Following a ‘crew rest rota’, flight attendants punch a secret code into a secret door, climb the ladder and find half a dozen bunks built into the ceiling above the economy cabin,” says Ben.

“Have we met?”

This doesn’t refer to introducing yourself, but rather to passenger’s seat belts being buckled for landing. 

“If one flight attendant is checking the cabin from front to back and the other is going from back to front, they have to say out loud that they've 'met' in the middle.”

This then indicates that the plane is ready to make a safe landing. 

Have you ever heard these phrases used while flying? Let us know!

Image credit: Shutterstock