A pilot has revealed some of the secret phrases used between the crew and what they mean.

Pilot Patrick Smith, who wrote the book Cockpit Confidential, has revealed the technical jargon used by crew on his website Ask The Pilot.

Some of them mean good news and others, well, not so much.


A crew member or pilot is someone who is trying to change locations for another job.

“A deadheading pilot or flight attendant is one re-positioning as part of an on-duty assignment,” clarified Smith.

“This is not the same as commuting to work or engaging in personal travel.”

Holding pattern

A holding pattern can be bad news for passengers who want to land on time, as this phrase means that the plane can be forced to fly overhead due to external issues.

“A racetrack-shaped course flown during weather or traffic delays,” explained Smith.

“Published holding patterns are depicted on aeronautical charts, but one can be improvised almost anywhere.”

Final approach

This just means that you’re not too far from landing at the airport.

Smith says:

“For pilots, a plane is on final approach when it has reached the last, straight-in segment of the landing pattern — that is, aligned with the extended centreline of the runway, requiring no additional turns or manoeuvring.”

Air pocket

An air pocket is a phrase used to explain a sudden jolt of turbulence.

Ground stop

This phrase means you’re in for a delay.

Patrick says this means that departures are going to be backlogged due to an issue such as air traffic control, meaning the plane might not be able to land in their designated slot.

This article originally appeared on Over60.