A Glossary of Aviation Jargon You Should Know

There’s a fair amount of aviation jargon in the airline industry which can leave us all a bit confused. Overhearing those employees in the industry would nearly tempt you to get a translation app.

Alternatively, you might have heard about many of these words before but you might have been misusing these lingos forever.

Aviation technology giant, Sabre has put together a list of travel-related phrases and words to help you know more about the airline industry and most importantly plan your itinerary. We have outlined some common aviation jargon, phrases and acronyms that every frequent flyer and stakeholders in the airline industry should be aware of.

Common Terms in the Aviation Industry


The starting point at which the passenger begins his travel on a particular flight segment. If you are to travel from Lagos to Heathrow Airport in England, your starting point would be the Murtala Mohammed International Airport, Ikeja.


The ultimate end of the passenger’s journey as shown on the booking and ticket.


A segment is the operation of a flight with a single flight number between the point where passengers first board an aircraft and their final destination while a leg is a trip of an aircraft from one airport to another. Short flights are one leg. Long-haul flights may have two or more legs. Segments are what you buy, Legs are what you fly.

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Arik Air commenced direct flight operations from Lagos to New York in November 2009. It was the first direct flight between Nigeria and the United States to be operated by a Nigerian airline in the last decade.


It is a defined corridor that defines one specific location to another. It’s a term to identify the passenger’s flight itinerary.

One–way Journey

A trip that is moving away from its origin and does not return to its point of origin city. That is, Lagos-London.

Roundtrip journey

The trip that goes back to its point of origin city. That is, Lagos -London-Lagos.


Travel to one city, return from another city; i.e. the departure city is not the same as the arrival city of the previous segment.


Arrival Not Known; it is a term used in CRS/GDS booking.

It is a portion of the itinerary where a passenger will not take any air service from one city to the next.


List of flights that the passenger is scheduled to take.

Nonstop service

A flight that proceeds directly to the final destination without making any stops at intermediate points.

Direct Flight

A flight that may have transit points (i.e. it may make an intermediate stop(s) before reaching its destination, it does not require a change of flight number and aircraft). A stop may either be to get new passengers (or allow some to disembark) or a technical stopover (i.e., for refuelling).

Change of Gauge

There is a change on the aircraft en route or a change of inventory compartment enroute but has the same flight number.

Connecting Flights

Flights that require a change of aircraft at intermediate stop(s), referred to as connecting city(ies) before arriving at the destination (i.e. it takes two or more flights to reach the destination).

Online Connection

A connection that requires a change of planes on the same airline.

Offline Connection

A connection that not only involves a change of planes but also a change of airlines as well.


Travel with more than one (1) airline with a single ticket; entails agreement for airlines to transfer baggage.

READ ALSO: 5 Statements of Fact About Sabre

Minimum Connecting Time

The legal minimum time necessary to change planes at a given airport.


A planned stop in a destination for more than 24 hours before continuing the next part of the flight itinerary.

City/airline/airport codes

An IATA designated codes for cities, airlines, and airports.

Code share Flight

An agreement between airlines to sell space on each other’s flights using their own two-letter codes in the CRS.

Class of Service

Section of seating in the airline.

Available seats

Seats that are available and can be sold.


Estimated time of departure.


Estimated time of arrival.

Elapsed Time

The number of scheduled hours from point of origin to destination.


Greenwich Mean Time – Universal point of reference in determining standard time; also known as Zulu time, Universal Time (UT) or Coordinated Universal Time (UTC)

Zulu Time

The letter designator for this clock is Z.

Computer Reservations System (CRS)

Airline-owned computerized reservation system to facilitate interactive online transactions.

Global Distribution System (GDS)

Computerized reservation networks through which users (travel agents, airline employees or travelers) can view data on a wide range of travel services, including air, hotel, car rental and like services. Several GDS provide their services to users worldwide.

Passenger Name Record (PNR)

The file or record containing the passenger’s reservations, i.e. names of all passengers having the same itinerary (air and non-air segments), passengers contacts and other passenger travel information.

FIT Booking

Reservations made for 1 – 9 passengers.

Group Booking

Booking that consists of 10 or more passengers on the same date for the same destination.

PNR Address or File Address or Record Locator

The computer reference code that is unique to a passenger’s flight reservation that is stored in the CRS/airline for retrieval of booking

Passenger (PAX)

Any person (except the members of the crew) carried or to be carried in an aircraft with the consent of the carrier.

Are there any other airline terms or phrases that confuse you or any you might like to add? Leave your comments and suggestions below.

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