Deadheaders and Crashpads: Crew Lingo 101

Only fearless flyers such as airline crew could come up with such morbid terms to describe our daily industry activities. While my goal is not to bore you with all the ins and outs of a way too complex system, knowing a few terms that I use in this blog will be helpful for understanding my life on and and off duty. These terms have become a part of my everyday language. But for my non-flying family and friends, I’m explaining these terms again and again.  

This list is not exhaustive by any means and nor is it intended to be. If you’re not crew, these terms simply make for interesting trivia facts. You may even find one every now and then on a crossword puzzle.

So, here are phrases you may hear me writing about.  

I’m writing a post as I’m Deadheading to Cleveland – Deadheading is when a flight attendant or pilot is on duty but is riding on a plane as a passenger rather than as a working crew member. Usually the company has assigned us to deadhead for the purpose of positioning us at a specific airport to begin or end a trip So, we get paid for the flight time. This is nicknamed “dozing for dollars” since you can sleep, watch movies, listen to music, read, etc. while deadheading. Most of the time, I’m still in uniform going to or coming from a working assignment. Deadheading is great unless you’re stuck in a middle seat or the last row. Then it’s just torture after having worked a long day or early morning.

I’m Jumpseating to get back home – When you’re non-revving and the flight is full, you can hitch a ride on the jumpseat if the plane is equipped with an extra flight attendant  seat in the front or back galley. Pros: You get to where you’re going. Cons: You can’t sleep and despite your best efforts, you will be in the way of the working crew. However, it’s still slightly better (but not by much) than getting stuck sitting in a middle seat.

I’m Non-Revving to Cancun – Also known as pass riding or flying standby. These are the flight benefits that most airline crew and their buddy pass riders enjoy (but we still pay the taxes and fees so it’s not totally free). Basically, non-revving means you’re a non-revenue generating passenger since you’re flying in an unsold seat.  There’s an art and science to non-revving and depending on how well you work it, it can either be a travel dream come true or your worse airportnightmare.

I’m Crashing once I get to the hotel.  Basically, I’m going to sleep my arse off after a flight. This is usually followed by more sleep, food and Netflix.

Crashpads are sucky. A place where flight attendants go in between assignments. Crashpads can be a house, apartment or a hotel room where too many flight attendants eat, sleep, and shower. I lived in a crashpad for a couple of months. If you’re 20-something and you haven’t been to college, you may enjoy the dorm-life experience that some crash pads offer. It’s not for me. Although I do stay in an apartment with several roommates, they are non-airline folks and I have my own room. In a crash pad, you typically share a room with several individuals. Each of you will have your own single bed. There are a lot of different types of crash pads, some are nice, others are not so nice. A crash pad is typically not a flight attendants’ or pilot’s primary residence.

Unless you’re a broke reserve and a new hire then you sadly live there most of the time.

Being a Reserve is tough. – A reserve is a flight attendant with no set monthly schedule (that’s me!). Reserves are considered back up flight attendants who replace flight attendants who call in sick at the last minute, or due to delays, have maxed out the number of hours they can work in a day. We also fly the leftover trips that no one in their right mind wants such as a trip to Cancun and back without stepping off of the plane. Being a reserve is based a combination of factors such as hire date, the number of people in your particular base and how many monthly schedules (aka lines) are created. Again, the system is complex and still confuses me. It’s a machine Think of A LOT of moving parts!

I wish I was a Line Holder. A flight attendant that has been given a monthly schedule which outlines all their trips for the month. As a line holder, you can drop and trade your assigned trips. Having a line is like the holy grail in flight attendant world.

Nooo, I got a 4:30 a.m. show time.FML. The time when flight attendant has to be at the airport and ready for work. It’s usually anywhere between an hour to an hour and a half before the plane is scheduled to depart depending on the size of the plane and where it’s going. I still find it insane that we don’t get paid starting from the time we are required to check in for work and begin our duties.  We’re only paid for when the wheels are up.

As I go along, I may add to this list, but that’s the gist of it for now. I have an early show time so it’s time to sleep.

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  • This was fun, thanks! I love picking up jargon from different jobs and situations. Feel free to add to the list!

  • My first comment! Thanks!

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