Arm doors, cross check – learn the cabin crew talk
Published on 26th August 2016

A few posts ago, we introduced you to Aviationese – the abbreviated language of anyone who works in, on or around aircraft.

It was a really popular post, so we thought we’d share some more cabin crew lingo and explain some of the other ways crew communicate on-board.


There’s someone at the door: This is one of the exits on the upper deck of an A380 (with a few metres of leg room).

Cabin Crew – Arm doors and cross check

You’ll hear this at the start of every flight, just as the aircraft starts to push back from the gate. Simply, it means that the door is ready for use in an emergency evacuation.

If the door is opened the escape slide or raft will deploy and inflate. (Fact # 1 – a slide can inflate in less than six seconds).

Crew arm and disarm the door by moving a special level, locked with a pin.  (Fact #2 – it’s physically impossible for the aircraft door to open mid-flight due to the difference in air pressure inside the cabin and outside in the atmosphere).

And after landing, you’ll hear the pilot ask crew to disarm doors – this means that the emergency slide has been deactivated.

Cabin Crew – prepare the cabin for landing

This is a sign to crew that the aircraft has started descending for landing. It’s also known as “top of the drop” and crew will make sure that everyone is buckled up, tray tables are stowed and of course ensuring all the window shades are up.

Window Shades

Don’t throw shade: Please follow the crews instructions to open your blinds for take off and landing

Please open your window shades

We know that opening your window shade when you’re mid-nap at the end of a long haul flight is…well, probably not your favourite way to wake up.

But having window shades up provides visibility for both our cabin crew and customers in the unlikely event of an emergency. This way, if anyone on board notices something unusual, we can alert our pilots straight away.

It also means that emergency services on the ground will be able to see inside the aircraft in case they need to evaluate an emergency situation. While that’s all very unlikely, it’s an important safeguard.

Why does it sound like someone keeps ringing a doorbell?

There can be up to 30 crew both cabin and pilots spread throughout an aircraft on a long haul flight. So, good communications are crucial. That’s where all the bells come in.

On our Airbus aircraft you’ll hear the ‘boing’ sound shortly after take-off – this sound lets crew know that the landing gear is being retracted. (Depending on where you are sitting, you can probably hear or feel it moving. If you’re downstairs in the pointy end of one of our Boeing 747’s – you’re basically sitting right on top of the front landing gear).

The second boing is usually when the seat belt sign is switched off.

Here’s what some of the other dings and dongs signal to crew with HI and LO referring to the tone of the chime:

Single chime:  Passenger asking for service in their seat (i.e. pressing their call bell) A panel will light up in the galley and second light will appear over the passenger’s seat.

HI-LO chime:  Ringtone of a crew phone from one galley or section to another (They’re probably asking if there’s more snacks for another part of the cabin).

Triple chime LO-LO: Priority message from the captain or other crew members which could be letting them know there may be turbulence ahead, so they should start putting away the meal carts and be ready in case the fasten seat belt sign comes on.

Watch Qantas International Customer Service Manager Janek Picheta explain more below. And for more Roo Tales click here.

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