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flight planning: air travel terms dictionary



The meanings of air travel terms


Have you ever wondered what words like "charter", "scheduled", "codeshare" and others mean? Perhaps you've wondered where can you find their meanings?

Well, here's our dictionary, the most frequently used flight terms & their meanings:


Airline code: a succession of letters, marking an airline (air carrier company), there are 2 types of airline codes: the IATA airline codes and the ICAO airline codes. The IATA codes consist of 2 letters, while the ICAO codes of 3. The IATA codes and ICAO codes are both frequently used in the case of airline identification.


Airliner: the aircraft in possession of the air carrier (airline) company, often confused with "airline", the airliner actually refers to the plane itself, the machine, not the operator


Airport code: a succession of letters, marking an airport, you can find 2 types of them: IATA airport codes and ICAO airport codes, the 2 differ from each other, usually IATA airport codes are the standard, you are most likely to find these codes in case you travel by air


Air taxi: an air taxi operates on an on-demand basis, frequently used by VIPs


Available seat mile (ASM): standard air transport unit of passenger capacity, defined as 1 seat transported 1 mile


Business class: specially created for businessmen, business class flights are more comfortable, allowing passengers to carry more luggage, offering more leg and elbow room, larger and more comfortable seats, often own screens, better menus, etc. Business class flights usually cost more than inferior classes. Low cost airlines (which generally have no classes) usually don't have business class.


Codesharing: marketing practice in which 2 or more airline companies share the same 2 letter code used to identify air carriers in the computer reservation systems used by the travel agents


Charter flight: flights organized directly from the departure location to the destination without any intermediate  stops, usually these flights don't operate on a previously fixed schedule and have less room inside for passengers


Combi: an aircraft that has a main deck divided into 2 sections, one of which is fitted with seats and the other is used for cargo


Economy class: the cheapest class on conventional airline flights (low cost flight excluded, because they have no classes). Economy class is usually more expensive than low cost airline flights, but not much more expensive. Sometimes low cost airlines charge more than the conventional carriers on economy class. It is less comfortable than business class, there's less room, more people are cramped into smaller spaces, in-flight entertainment and meals are rather poor in comparison with business class.


First class: First class is a luxurious class in general. But, some airlines call their business class "first class", make sure you understand it right. The real first class is only available on long airline flights, especially intercontinental flights, on this class the best meals are served, you get full flat beds (seats that can be transformed into full flat beds), enough space for your body, and more. It costs up to more than 10-20 times the price of economy class, for instance for a first class between Frankfurt and Tokyo, prices are between 10.000 - 15.000 $


Frequent flyer programs: marketing programs of airlines in which loyal customers earn points or miles for each flight, these points/miles can later be transformed into discounts or free/bonus flights


IATA: International Air Travel Association - an international trade organization of the airlines, mostly flag carriers, for this reason, IATA has often been accused for acting as a cartel, because many low cost airlines are not full IATA members. IATA also regulates the shipment of dangerous goods, promotes safe, scheduled and cheaper air travel, helps in the development of air commerce, encourages the global extension of air travel in order to contribute to a more efficient global transportation and the well being of the populations and economies implicated, also, IATA designates codes to airports, these are known as the IATA airport codes and are 3 letter symbols that identify airports, these are the most frequently used symbols for airport identification. IATA also identifies airlines with IATA airline codes, these are 2 letter symbols.


ICAO: International Civil Aviation Administration - agency of the UN (United Nations) that develops the principles and techniques of international air navigation, it is occupied with the planning and the development of international air transport to ensure safe and well organized growth. ICAO adopts standards, recommends practices concerning civil aviation, unlawful interference, works on the facilitation of border crossing, defines protocols for accident investigation. You might also find ICAO airline codes, which identify air carriers (airlines), these codes are 3 letter codes. Airlines are also attributed codes, ICAO identifies them with 3 letter codes (unlike IATA, which uses 2 letter codes to mark carriers)


Nonstop flight: a flight with no intermediate stops


Scheduled flight: flights based on pre-determined schedules


Seat pitch: the distance between seats in an aircraft’s passenger cabin, measured from any point on a given seat to the corresponding point on the seat in front of or behind it


Turbojet: an aircraft that is equipped with jet engines and whose power is solely the result of its jet exhaust


Turboprop: a type of engine that uses a jet engine to turn a propeller


Flag carrier: airline operating on internal and international routes according to a fixed schedule


Low cost/fare airline: an airline that sells fares for significantly lower prices than the flag carriers and offers less in-flight services to passengers in order to cut costs, the low cost airlines usually sell their tickets online


Widebody aircraft: any aircraft with more than one aisle in the passenger cabin



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