Flight Attendant Speech – A Language of its own

Flight attendant speech – The English language they say is one of the hardest languages to learn, even for native speakers, however even native speakers commit errors in using it. While this is not an English lesson for Flight Attendants, being front line to customer’s means communication is your basic tool of trade.

Pronunciation is how you say what you say and accounts for a massive 38% of your message. In fact according to recognized body language and communications expert Alan Pease your communication or in this case effectively your flight attendant speech is segmented into the following:

What you say will account for just 7% your message

How you say it will account for 38% of your message 

Body language will account for a whopping 55% of your message!

(Ref: http://www.peaseinternational.com)

Pronunciation in what you say in essence therefore needs to be clear. Certainly one can talk but not everyone has clear, concise and for that matter proper pronunciation.

Front line customer service work is really about communication of which talk or more accurately speech is an everyday occurrence.

Aside body language, what we say and how we say it accounts for a 45% of the communication that you have with someone.

Pronunciation therefore is an area of speech that we as flight attendants should try to master.


‘I have written in and no you can view Video Manual 2 of the AIRLINES Be a Flight Attendant today program that communication is about expressing ideas effectively in individual and group situations (including non-verbal communication), adjusting language and terminology to the characteristics and needs of the audience. It is also about being able to use effective interpersonal skills effectively and appropriately to the situation at hand.

A flippant description of communication could be ‘talk and listen’. However, complete effective communication requires much more understanding than that. Communication happens when a message is conveyed between two or more people: a sender and a receiver (singular or plural). 

Effective communication only occurs when the receiver interprets the senders‟ message as intended and without proper pronunciation this is always a challenge.


A very common illustration of poor pronunciation is the word wiv as opposed to WITHWiv is not an English word and can sound very uneducated and even annoying to the listener. Phree or tree as opposed to THREE is also improper and uneducated sounding. It is certainly not Airline standard and one would struggle to get through an interview with such poor ‘potential flight attendant’ speech.

Correct flight attendant speech therefore is about fine tuning your pronunciation for proper communication. If you have this error in the way you say your words then work hard on correcting you pronunciation of words. Speech or how you say or pronounce the word you say is a learned habit so concentrate on removing poor pronunciation from you speech so that you make the right first impressions at an interview and subsequently with your passengers. Remember, it’s a massive 38% of your communication!

Flight attendant talk, language and abbreviations are wrapped in industry specific jargon. 

Like any industry, the aviation industry will abbreviate where it can and while you will use some in the presence of pax (passengers) most will be operational between crew members, tech crew and operations.

If you’re really interested in exposing or learning any of this you can simply Google it for yourself however here’s an small example of some the ‘jargon’ used in your potential new work place:

Pax = passengers

ETA = estimated time of arrival

ATA = Actual time of arrival

GMT = Greenwich Mean Time – the international time standard (also known as UTC – Coordinated Universal Time)

Standby = This is when a pax holds a ticket that does not automatically guarantee a seat but rather they will get a seat if available at close of flight

O/N = Over night/stopover/layover for one or more nights with a minimum rest of 10 hours but usually 12 hours of more

DTA = Daily travel allowance

TCAS = Traffic Collision Avoidance System

Now this is just a fraction of the language utilized in flight attendant speech or more correctly one could say ‘airline speak’ but I think you get the idea that if it can be abbreviated it will be.

Flight attendant speech while very important to not only getting the job by being in command of it at your interview, is just one aspect of many that you must be not only be good at but must display at your interview and then of course at work.

What on Earth does all that Aviation speak mean

When you become a Flight Attendant you will enter a new world of 'Aviation' language. No this is not the phonetic alphabet that is everyday speak in Aviation which again is a language of itself, this is about terminology used in the aviation workplace.

Certainly some might be familiar with "flaps' which are the control surface commonly on the rear of aircraft wings to increase lift and also increase drag, but what does "Barking Dogs" mean?

Or what about "Jump Seat" or "BOB", "bulkhead", "Trolly Dolly", "cold aircraft" or "back to back" mean?


So flight attendant speech, jargon and industry banter is all apart of Flight attendant language. 




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