Airline attendants are immersed in a brand new world of language that cannot be avoided. The standard aviation language around the globe is English, however, it is not the same as you speak every day. The global aviation language uses the English Phonetic Alphabet, and it is used commonly by those who fly frequently.
The English Phonetic Alphabet might seem incredibly strange and complex at first. However, to become a successful flight attendant, you will need to be fully immersed in it.
Why Airlines Use the Phonetic Alphabet
The airline industry expands globally. This means, in one day, you can cross dozens of countries and interact with local air traffic controllers and pilots whose native tongue is not the same as yours. They will have accents and dialects that can make for an incredibly difficult mode of communication.
To prevent miscommunication and avoid confusion, the airline industry communicates with a system known and the Phonetic Alphabet.
What is the Phonetic Alphabet?
The Phonetic alphabet was developed during the middle of the 1900s for soldiers to effectively articulate messages to other soldiers over the radio. Because there were incredibly poor reception and lots of battle noises, it could lead to misunderstandings.
The phonetic alphabet sounds like a word that begins with the letter that you want to speak. In normal English, C, D, B, E can end up sounding like the same letter. This can create miscommunication, and in the aviation industry, this can lead to costly mistakes. In the phonetic alphabet, for example, each letter has a different characteristic that allows for it to be correctly identified. Instead of C sounding “see” or D as “dee”, they are ‘Charlie’ and ‘Delta’. Here is the entirety of the phonetic alphabet:
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
Flight Attendants will perform better once they know the phonetic alphabet, as it will be heard frequently on the job. While it might be intimidating, it will quickly creep into your daily life at work, and you will understand it in no time. Practice makes perfect!