The basics of aviation terminology

Sep 13, 2020 | Cabin Crew

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(Last updated on: 13/12/2021)

When starting a career in the aviation industry there’s a lot to learn and understand – one of these being the aviation terminology that is used!

Before you start the job, you should have at least a brief understanding of some of the aviation terminology that will be used in your workplace.

This post will introduce you to some of the terminology that is commonly used in the aviation industry. 


Positioning is when a crew member travels as a passenger to another base to operate a flight.


Turnaround is the time between when the aircraft lands until the time it takes off again on its next route. E.g. the time between a British Airways flight landing in Heathrow until the time it takes off out of Heathrow again.

Duty hours

A Cabin Crew members duty hours are the number of hours they work from the check-in time to the time they are officially off duty after the post-flight debrief. 


Standby is when a crew member is on duty but not physically flying until they are called out. All airlines have a minimum call out time.

Working positions 

Working positions are the position that each Cabin Crew member is allocated to work for that flight.

Aircraft configuration

The aircraft configuration is the layout of the aircraft. This includes the layout of the aisles, doors, galleys, passenger facilities, seats of different sizes and pitch.

Low-cost airlines

Low-cost airlines are airlines that aim to keep costs down for their passengers. To help lower the prices, low-cost airlines normally fly into regional airports because of lower charges. They will also charge customers extra for food, drink, paying by credit card and by selling lottery tickets on board the flight. An example of a low-cost airline would be easyJet. 

Charter airlines

Charter airlines carry out flights where a travel company pays for all of the seats on the plane and then sells these seats to their customers. The majority of chartered operated services have seats on them sold to include a holiday package, known as an inclusive tour. Like scheduled airlines, they operate to a specific timetable, but this is not always all year round. Charter airlines also frequently fly to holiday destinations. Examples of charter airlines would be Thomson and Thomas Cook. 

Domestic flights

Domestic flights are flights that are within the same country and are usually up to 1.5 hours in length. The destination airport and the departure airport are in the same country. For example, a flight from London to Manchester.

Is there any aviation terminology that you think should be on this list? I’d love to hear your suggestions in the box below!

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Dr Hayley Stainton

Hi, am Dr Hayley Stainton

I’ve been travelling, studying and teaching travel and tourism since I was 16. Through Tourism Teacher I share my knowledge on the principles and practice of travel and tourism management from both an academic and practical perspective.

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