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Want To Know The Language Of An Airline Flight Attendant? Your Guide To The Phonetic Alphabet


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As an airline flight attendant you will be immersed into a new world of language that you cannot avoid or ignore. While the aviation language standard around the globe is English, it's the English Phonetic Alphabet that is unavoidable to those that fly operationally.

While strange to some at first it will quickly become familiar to you when you are immersed into it as an airline flight attendant.

But why do airlines use this language? Simply the world is a small place when it comes to jet aircraft. In less than a day you can cross literally dozens of countries and all with local Pilots and Air traffic controllers that have accents that are native to their mother tongue.

To save confusion with accents and to have clarity and precision of identification over the airways around the world, the airline industry communicates with a system called the Phonetic alphabet. The Phonetic alphabet was developed during the mid 1900s so that soldiers of war could articulate messages over the radio to other soldiers in the heat of battle without misunderstanding due to poor reception and the noise of battle.

Basically the use of the Phonetic alphabet sounds a word that starts with the letter that you want to say. That way, letters like C and D although similar in letter sound, can be correctly identified. Charlie is very different to Delta for example. It is then just a matter of sounding out the letters or spelling of the word that you need to communicate.

Operationally, this is always used to identify aircraft and anything that needs certain understanding. As a Flight Attendant you will need to know the phonetic alphabet as you will use it and hear it used often while at work. You will quickly find that it creeps into your everyday language as a type of short hand to operational understanding with other crew members.

So what is the Phonetic alphabet used by the Airline industry?

A - Alpha, B - Bravo, C - Charlie, D - Delta, E - Echo, F - Foxtrot, G - Golf, H - Hotel, I - India, J - Juliet, K - Kilo, L - Lima, M - Mike, N - November, O - Oscar, P - Papa, Q - Quebec, R - Romeo, S - Sierra, T - Tango, U - Uniform, V - Victor, W - Whiskey, - X-ray, Y - Yankee, Z - Zulu

Simply print out the above and refer to when needed. With a little bit of practice you’ll learn the alphabet in no time. Then as a Flight Attendant you’ll easily apply the phonetic alphabet when and where needed automatically and almost without thought.

Numbers also have a pronunciation all of their own and further information on this is fully explained for Flight Attendants in How To Become a Flight Attendant available at

E - Echo, N - November, J - Juliet, O - Oscar, Y - Yankee (Enjoy)

Tom Reincke has enjoyed an airline career for more than 16 years both domestically and internationally. Having been a Flight Attendant Cabin Manager for 7 years and a regular participant in Flight Attendant interviews, Tom has written a complete insiders guide to how to become a Flight Attendant which is available at:


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