What the Airport Gate Attendants Think of You

Nick Beeson

Nick says: This was given to me by an Continetal airline gate attendant at Newark International Airport. We had been standing around chatting for a couple of hours while a plane was flown in to take me on a MUCH delayed flight. This was on-line, on his computer at the counter at the gate. After he read it to me I expressed a wish that I could have a printout. Lo-and-behold he had a dot matrix printer under the counter and made a printout for me on the spot. I suspect that this is quite old since the printout was all upper case, and did not have quotes, parenthesis, or apostrophes.


As you are all aware, the airlinr industry in which we work has it’s own unique set of terminology. The following are some of the most commonly used terms and their definitions.

PASSENGER – A herding creature of widely varying intellect, usually found in pairs or small groups. Often will become vicious and violent in simple and easily rectified situations. When frightened or confused these creatures collect into a group called a "line." This "line" has no set pattern and is usually formed in inconvenient places. Passengers are of four known species: Paxus iratus, Paxus latus, Paxus inebriatus, & Paxus ignoramus.

PRE-BOARD – Passenger who arrives at the gate five minutes before departure.

VOLUNTARY OVERSALE – A passenger who arrives at the gate as the jetway is coming off the flight.

NO-RECORD – Any passenger booked through a travel agency.

NON-REVENUE POSITION – Usually can be identified by the fact that these passengers are in first class and are dressed in pilot or flight attendant uniforms. Non-revenue position are permitted to fly first class free of charge to prevent revenue passengers from being able to pay first class passenger charges.

GROUP – A large loud pack of passengers (see passenger) travelling together. The group leader, who has the tickets, usually waits in the bar until the required pre-board time of five minutes before departure, or until there are no seats left together, whichever occurs last. Reservation agents are prohibited form pre-assigning seats to groups as this may convenience them.

SIGN – An airport decoration. Usually unnoticed except by small children. Its primary function is to hide the location of various areas of the airport, i.e., gate numbers, rest rooms, baggage claim, etc.

POSITION CLOSED – This is a sign posted at various counter locations, which when interpreted by the passenger says, "Form line here."

BAGGAGE CLAIM – The most difficult area of the airport to find. It is usually hidden by numerous signs saying, "Baggage Claim Area."

CARRY ON BAG – An item, usually of large dimensions, which somehow managed to fit under the passenger’s seat on the inbound flight. Regardless of what the passenger says the following are not acceptable as carry-on items: bicycles, steamer trunks, refrigerators, truck tires, or wide screen projection TVs.

FLIGHT SCHEDULE – An entertaining work of paperback fiction.

ON-TIME – An obscure term, meaning unknown.

FOG – A natural weather phenomenon which usually occurs around an airport while the surrounding areas are clear. Fog is controlled by the airlines and is used to delay flights.

AIR TRAFFIC CONTROL – A game played by airline pilots and air traffic controllers. The game has no rules, and neither side knows how it is played, but the goal is to prevent flights from arriving in time for passengers to make connecting flights.

TICKET AGENT – A superhuman with the patience of a saint, the herding ability of an Australian sheepdog, the E.S.P. abilities of Uri Geller, the compassion of a psychoanalysts, and and the tact of a diplomat. They have mysterious abilities to control wind/rain/snow/fog and all other weather phenomenon. They are capable of answering three questions at one time, while talking on the phone, and without stuttering or choking on their tongue. In later life they parks carrying on mysterious conversations with themselves.

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