passenger jet flying at high altitude at sunset
Sarah Biren
Sarah Biren
March 31, 2024 ·  4 min read

The Seven Secret Words On A Flight That Means There’s Danger

Aerophobia is the name for flight anxiety, and it’s fairly common. Even those who don’t have this phobia can still experience fear while flying. It’s easy — but not recommended — to start imagining all the ways the flight could end in disaster. All it takes is a little turbulence for the imagination to run wild. To avoid mass panic, the cabin crew only uses a series of codes to maintain order. 

Flight attendant and author on Amanda Pleva explained some of the jargon used in emergency situations.

“Codes are used by crew in order to maintain calm and order in the cabin,” she said. “We’re specially trained in emergency situations, and panic can cause us to lose control of a situation and end up in injury or death.” [1]

However, there’s one phrase you don’t want to hear en route. 

The Seven Word Code That Means The Engine Has Failedy

One of our engines is indicating improperly. This means one of the engines had failed — but don’t panic yet. A failed engine is not as scary as it seems, and it has a simple solution: Land at the nearest airport available. Or, sometimes, just keep flying. Planes are able to continue even if one engine fails because of the built-in safety features and back-up engines. A failed engine basically means the aircraft has lowered fuel efficiency and range. It definitely does not mean “we’re going to crash-land.” In fact, passengers may not realize when it occurs. And fortunately, it’s an extremely unlikely occurrence anyway. [2]

In addition to the above, there are other codes as well.

pilots in cockpit

More Codes You Don’t Want to Hear on Your Next Flight


If you hear the pilot use the code “7500,” that means there has been a threat of hijacking.


Flight attendants do not have easy jobs. Their roles include serving food and drinks, keeping people safe, and maintaining order in a tight, enclosed space for hours at a time. Plus, not all passengers are calm and courteous. 

“If a passenger is being very rude and difficult, then it’s not unheard of for a flight attendant to break wind and ‘cropdust’ past the offender,” Pleva explained. “Childish? Yes. Satisfying? Also yes.”

Code Adam

This code is named after Adam Walsh, a child who got abducted in 1981 at a department store. A “code Adam” reports a missing child.

Air pocket

This is another term for turbulence.

Baby Jesus

Of course, traveling parents prioritize the care of their children and make sure they are as safe and happy as possible. However, some parents take this too far by acting rude and uncaring to everyone else around them. See how Mr. Salt parented Veruca in Charlie and the Chocolate Factory

Miracle flight

It’s common practice for “priority passengers” to board the plane first. This includes those with disabilities or who require some kind of assistance. However, some priority passengers suddenly don’t need their wheelchairs after the flight. Truly a miracle. 

Read: Man ‘Walking Awkwardly Through Airport’ Had Seven Gold Bars Hidden Up His Bum

Last minute paperwork

This is another phrase for “prepare for a delay.”

According to pilot and author Patrick Smith, “paperwork” means there’s a change to the original flight plan. This could be due to the aircraft’s record for its weight and balance, or a wait for the maintenance crew. [2]


This means the blowup slides attached to the plane’s doors are deactivated. This is a deliberate and needed effect; otherwise, the slide will pop up as soon as the doors open. That’s great when the plane has to land during an emergency, not so much during a regular disembarkment.

Doors to arrival

This instruction is similar to crosscheck, and it’s given to flight attendants before landing. “The intent is to verify disarming of the emergency escape slides attached to the doors to prevent them from deploying at the gate,” Smith explained. “When armed, a slide will automatically deploy the instant its door is opened.


Smith said that this phrase is part of the regular arming and disarming of the doors. “This is a request that each flight attendant report via intercom from his or her station — a sort of flight attendant conference call,” he said. 


A deadheading pilot or flight attendant is one repositioning as part of an on-duty assignment,” Smith said. “This is not the same as commuting to work or engaging in personal travel.

Keep Reading: 7 Things Flight Attendants Notice About You When You Board an Airplane


  1. “The secret code words you never want to hear from crew on a flight.” Yahoo News. November 8, 2017
  2. Rhiannon Ingle. “The Seven Secret Words On A Flight That Means There’s Danger.” Unilad. March 4, 2022
  3. Emily Payne. “The secret words your airline crew don’t want you to understand.” November 7, 2017