Ultimate Guide to Travel Lingo

Updated June 1, 2020.

Every field has its own lingo. But with travel lingo, every traveler needs to be able to decipher it. So next time you look at your boarding pass or try to read a travel blog, just refer to this post and you’ll be in the know in no time!

Boarding Pass

This is what you might call your “ticket.” You flight number, boarding group number, boarding time, and departure time are all on this long strip of paper for your reference.

Boarding Time

This is the time boarding starts. You will board by Group Number, so make sure you look to see which group you’re in!

Direct Flight

Do not confuse this term with “non-stop”! Taking a “direct” flight only means that two flights have the same flight number, and that the flight stops enroute to its final destination before continuing on to its destination. You will have a layover if you take a direct flight, it will not be non-stop.

Flying into Narita (NRT), near Tokyo
For Practical Purposes: What to Do When You Miss Your Flight


This stands for “Flight Attendant.” I was reading this abbreviation in various blogs and travel forums, but it was years before I knew what it meant!

Fare Class

Your fare class is the amount of money you pay for your ticket. This is determined by your seat position in the plane and your upgrade eligibility. The lowest fare class will get you a middle seat next to the bathroom. The highest will put you in FIrst Class!

Flight Number

This is the one and only way you will know you’re getting on the right flight. Don’t look at the time or the destination to know, look at your flight number and listen for that flight number over the loud speaker when the airline employee announces your flight is boarding! There could be multiple flights to your destination, or even multiple flights scheduled to depart at the same time of day. Pay attention to your flight number.

Coming in for a landing!
Want a deal? How to Find Cheap Flights

High Season (or Peak Season)

This will be the busiest season at your destination. It’s different for anywhere you want to go. Fall is the most popular time to visit New England, but summer is the most popular time to visit much of Europe. You will run into larger crowds, longer lines, higher ticket prices, and perhaps the nicest weather. High season is the most popular time to visit a place for a reason!

Non-stop Flight

This is the kind of flight you always want. This is the kind of flight that takes you from Point A to Point B without any layovers. For more, see the often confused term “direct” above!

Off Season (or Off-peak Season)

The off season is the direct opposite of the “high season” mentioned above. There will be low crowds, no lines, less expensive flights, and perhaps less than stellar weather. Often museums, restaurants, and other popular attractions will be closed or have limited opening hours, so be sure to check on that if there is something particular you want to see or do. But you could score a huge deal on flights, hotels, and more!

Flying into Marrakech
New to this flying thing? Check out Flying for Beginners: A Guide!

Shoulder Season

This is the best time to travel, in my opinion! You’ll find off season prices and crowds but high season hours and weather. For instance, Hawaii basically has high season in both summer and winter, but late spring and early fall are less crowded. Check into the “shoulder season” for your next destination!

Third Party

This one can kick you in the backside when you’re not looking. A “third party” is an entity that is kind of a “middle man” between you and the entity you’re buying from. For instance, popular travel-related third parties include Hipmunk, Orbits, Kayak, Priceline, etc. These sites are great for finding flight deals, but it’s never the best idea to buy from them instead of the airline directly (the third party site did not come up with that deal on their own, they found it for you on the airline’s website!).

Why should you never buy from a third party? Because if something happens (your flight is cancelled, you need to change something, the airline changes the departure time, etc.) the third party will tell you to call your airline, your airline will tell you to call the third party. You will never win. And you’ll be out the cost of your tickets. For more, check out my guide to Flight Finding Tools!

Always travel with the one you love!
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This is the dream, my friends! When you get an upgrade, it means you paid for a lower class of service, but you get to fly in a better class of service. For instance, paying for economy but getting upgraded to business class!

What travel lingo would you add to this list? Comment to let me know!

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2 responses to “Ultimate Guide to Travel Lingo”

  1. Open jaw ticket, circle fare, RTW (round the world) fare, interline baggage agreement, red-eye…very good travel info!

    1. That’s the master-class jargon for sure!✈️

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