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The Beginner’s Guide to Understanding FlyerTalk

It’s almost like it’s another language… Because it is.

The FlyerTalk forums are legendary in frequent flyer circles. Started by Randy Peterson in 1998, it’s one of the largest places on the Internet for frequent flyers and travelers to congregate over things travel. Over half a million members strong, it’s also created its own particular culture, which can seem crazy and opaque to the uninitiated eye.

Its members are so fervent that the airlines themselves routinely post official announcements and changes in the forums, sometimes before the public is notified.

Brushing up on IATA language and airport codes goes a long way here. It is more common to refer to a city and an airline by its code than straightforward English. Don’t be surprised when Houston routinely turns into IAH and Cathay Pacific turns into CX; this is par for the course. (Be prepared to Google a lot.)

Most forums are subdivided by topic, with the most popular forums being the Mileage Run Deals forum where the best flight deals are posted and the individual airline forums where members obsessively discuss the intricacies of a particular frequent flyer program. Once initiated, it’s hard to get out.

So, go forth, and explore. And use this basic glossary to navigate the waters.



*S Star Silver. Used to denote someone who has reached Silver status in the Star Alliance program.

*G Star Gold. Used to denote someone who has reached Gold status in the Star Alliance program.

CPM Not an advertising term for hose in the biz! This refers to the cents per mile per flight (cost/mileage). It is literally what it sounds like and often used to gauge how good of a deal a particular flight is. There is some internal debate between frequent flyers as to what constitutes a good CPM, though the Flyertalk Mileage Run Deals forum often place it around 2-3 CP in order for it to qualify as a ‘deal.’

Churn The practice of canceling a credit card, often before the annual fee is due, and signing up for it again for the credit card bonus, all in the name of accruing more airline points.

DYKWIA Short acronym for “do you know who I am?” Often refers to an entitled elite flyer with a little bit too much attitude and/or entitlement.

Ex Meaning, originating from. Ex-LAX means the flight begins in Los Angeles.

F Common reference to first-class flights.

Gate lice Often a derogatory term to refer to passengers that crowd around the gate before their boarding group number is called. It’s a term I hate simply because it pays forward to be nice!

Hard product The physical offering of an airline. This would include things like the make and model of the aircraft, whether the seat has a lie-flat bed, or how much recline/legroom it has. This is in direct to ‘soft product,’ which refers to other parts of the flight experience.

IRROPS Common abbreviation for irregular operations. This usually refers to a flight delay that’s out of the airline’s control like extreme weather or mechanical issues.

J Common reference to business-class flights.

Mileage run / MR These are flights that are taken just to acquire more miles and/or status before the qualification period is up. Most passengers will go out of their way to add extra connections or finding more roundabout routes in order to accomplish their goal. 

Manufactured spend / MS The deliberate use of signing up for credit cards purely to acquire airline points. Most of the time, the credit card bonus often requires a minimum spend over a specific time period (for example, $3,000 over two months). Sometimes credit card users will purchase another monetary instrument such as a gift card or something like that to meet the spend but this is not recommended.

OLCI Online check-in.

OW Meaning OneWorld, one of the three major airline alliances.

Soft product Opposed to the physical offerings or ‘hard product,’ this refers to the more nuanced parts of a flight experience, such as the quality of customer service, how friendly the flight attendants are, and the quality of the food served on the flight.

TATL Shorthand for ‘transatlantic’ flights. (TransATLantic.)

TAPL Shorthand for ‘transpacific’ flights. (TransPACific.)

Trip Report Somebody’s detailed review and experience of a particular airline, cabin, hotel or trip.

The Beginner’s Guide to Understanding FlyerTalk via @maphappy
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