Frequent Flyer Cards

Frequent Flyer 101 Lingo

Some useful frequent flyer 101 lingo used within aviation and the frequent flyer/avgeek community. This is by no means exhaustive, it will be an evolving page, that I will update as I go along.


Someone intensely passionate about aviation. This can manifest in many forms, whether through frequent flying, plane spotting, collecting of memorabilia and air-plane models to learning about aircraft and even flying them!

Airline Code

A 2 letter code (IATA) designated to an airline, i.e BA for British Airways, LX for Swiss International

Airport Code

A 3 letter code (IATA) designated to an airport, i.e LHR for London Heathrow, JFK for New York John F Kennedy Airport


Irregular operation, this can be equipment/aircraft change, routing change, flight cancellation etc


Operational upgrade, a type of upgrade when seats of a certain class usually Economy
is overbooked, and some passengers have to be upgraded to next class of service, like Business.

Bumping/ Involuntary Denied Boarding

On full flights, removing a confirmed passenger to make room for a passenger with higher priority. An airline would usually check for any volunteers first.


An airline Alliance is a group of airlines that agree to cooperate on a comprehensive bases. This includes providing inter-airline connections for passengers. Airlines can interline so that a passenger with itinerary involving 2 airlines does not have to check-in again for second second segment, their baggage goes right through.
Benefit for customers:
  • Vastly expanded network reach for seamless travel.
  • Faster frequent flier benefits such as earning miles on a single account through travel on any alliance partners.
  • Shared lounge/fast track facilities etc
  • Flyers may earn airmiles from one airline, but spend/redeem miles across any of the airlines within the alliance.
If you’ve ever booked a flight with British Airways, and ended up on a American Airline
plane, that would be because they are alliance partners
The three major alliances in the world are:
  • Star Alliance ( Lufthansa, Singapore, Thai, Swiss, United etc)
  • OneWorld (British Airways, American, Finnair, Iberia, Qatar etc)
  • Sky Team (Air France/KLM, Delta, Alitalia etc  )
Some airlines do not formally belong to any alliances, either because they are too small/niche
or they deem not to need it, i.e Emirates.
Many of those airlines can still partner in other ways.


A formal arrangement whereby two or more airlines publish and market the same flight in a mutually beneficial agreement.
This can be through their own channels, using their own airline codes and flight numbers,
i.e BA321 might also be marketed as AA5253 and AY625 etc
In essence, there is only one flight, that is operated by one of those airlines, which would
be the operating carrier.
Codesharing is a key feature of airline alliances. However, airlines can still codeshare with carriers outside of their own alliance.
There are also varying depths of codeshare. Airlines can either buy can buy blocks of seats (at a fixed price) from the operating carrier and market those.
Or they can enter a free flow arrangement, where any airline can sell any number of seats via real-time
communication between their inventory/reservation systems or a capped free flow.


An elite level (usually tiered, i.e bronze, silver, gold) position acquired through pre-defined
qualifying travel with an airline/alliance.

Status Match

An offer to fast track a traveller to elite level for a recognised status with another airline/hotel programme etc. Most recently, TAP airlines was offering a status match for OneWorld flyers!
Some airlines do not offer status matches. Others may do so periodically, but in
conjunction with a challenge.

Open Jaw & Double Open Jaw

Open Jaw flight is one where fly from A to B and return from C to A.
A Double open jaw ticket involves flight from A to B and returning from D to C.
Usually such flights have to be in certain zones, i.e same continent.

Transfer VS Stopover

A transfer involves travel from point A to C, via B where you will be only transiting via B for less than 24 hours.
A stopover involves travel from point A to C with a stop in B for 24 hours or longer and subsequently continue the journey to point C at a later date.
Usually with a stopover, you would have to check-in for your flight again at point B,
similar to multi-segmented flights.

Fifth Freedom Flight

A fifth freedom is a right granted (by relevant authorities) to a foreign airline to fly from point A to B, none of which are the airlines home-base.

Tier Point/Mileage Run

Booking a series of flights with the sole or primary intention of earning status/tier/qualifying points in order to gain or retain a specific status.

Holding Pattern

A flight path, usually circular maintained by an aircraft, awaiting permission to land or move to next holding position.