Flying on my terms


As in many businesses, over the years the airlines have developed unique meanings for many commonly used terms. This often leads to bewilderment of passengers simply wanting to get from one point to another without having to learn a whole new set of definitions.

So as an Err Travel service to those of you who may have some confusion about air travel terms, I offer the following definitions.

Cancellation n.
A mark on the back of your returned check and the simultaneous notice appearing on a television monitor in the passenger waiting area that you won’t be going anywhere today.

Carrier n.
(1) Something my dad used to put on our Olds to hold the tent for our summer vacations.
(2) A term used by my mother to describe a “bad girl.”

Carry-on v.
What my wife tells me I should seriously limit if I expect this marriage to last.

Charter n.
A person who makes charts. A job similar to a cartographer. (E.g., The charts prepared to show Congress that the airlines are indeed viable in spite of losing money for years and years were prepared by a charter.) [Not to be confused with a “Charo-ter,” which is a Cuchi-Cuchi groupie.]

Commercial flight v.
A back-to-nature movement best represented by people who are leaving big cities with commercial blight for places such as Vermont where there are no billboards.

Confirmed reservation n.
Like when you get to the airport to discover that your flight has been cancelled, and you had a feeling all along that it was going to be.

Connecting flights n.
Sometimes called “mid-air collisions.”

Codeshare v.
Nefarious activities that got the likes of Robert Hanssen and Aldridge Ames in big trouble.

Deplane v.
The trademark statement of Herve Villechaize of Fantasy Island.

Direct flight n.
The plane is going to stop up to eight times, and you are not allowed to get off at any of the stops.

Embark v.
The result of Madonna (known to her crew as “M”) getting ticked off.

Nonstop flight n.
The expected form of air travel wherein the aircraft remains airborne between take-offs and landings. (Antonym: Crash)

On-time adj.
Don’t worry about this term. It rarely applies to air travel.

Overbooking v.
Something I was never guilty of while attending college.

Overpacked baggage n.
Description of health club patrons the first week after New Year’s.

Overwater flight n.
The alternative to submarining.

Preassigned seat n.
I got mine at birth, but I suppose if your family has enough clout with the Man upstairs, you could get one preassigned.

Terminal adj.
(1) The prognosis for the business models of many of today’s airlines.
(2) The treatment given many passengers when they arrive at (coincidentally) a building with the same name [i.e., terminal (n.)].

Trip v.
What Dr. Timothy Leary was on during the 60’s and beyond, man.

Water evacuation n.
A procedure not unlike a colostomy. Note: Some passengers report the same feeling after deplaning from a direct flight.