Ridiculous, inappropriate or just plain wrong phonetic alphabet to try next time you call an airline? (Then again, maybe not). #FunFriday #Travel

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The list we should use!

When we talk to those in the travel business we really should all learn and try our best to use the above. It is the “correct” list to make sure quickly and accurately the travel reservation number, including letters, is properly shared with the rep on the other end of the line. In fact, when someone at the other end of the phone is reading something back to you if they are or are not using the above list speaks volumes as to whether or not they are a trained professional or someone who is perhaps new (or just lazy) to the travel profession.

Having said all that, maybe it is time to have some fun with reps on the other end of the line and then listen to their reaction to our more creative version of the phonetic alphabet? Just maybe we could instead use a list of words that are:

  • Ridiculous or
  • Inappropriate or
  • Just plain wrong!

Now please understand I am not really suggesting you use the following list with a real live rep and if you do my guess is you will not be treated as well as you could be if you used the correct phonetic alphabet. I am just trying to get you to smile before the weekend. Clear?

Having said that, take a gander at this list and tell me what you think the reaction might be if you get a really bad rep and choose to enunciate the reservation using the following:

Can you improve on this list?

Now I know what is going through your head – that list is just plum crazy and I would never ever think of ever using it (well, other than with that one rep – you may be thinking). Or, maybe you have an even more insulating, inappropriate or just plain wrong list you can think of. OK I can dig that let’s give this a try.

Now do please keep in mind this blog is a PG-13 blog and I want anyone in your family to be able to read your list in the comments below. So if you think you have an even more funny and maybe silly phonetic alphabet we should be using with reps that are not quite up to snuff then let us know below! – Rene



  1. Your ‘alternative’ list sure is funny. I usually use the ‘correct’ list you mentioned first. That is, because I served in our military when I was a bit younger (back then, military service was mandatory for males in Germany). Though we didn’t officially learn the NATO alphabet, but it was used. Which was sometimes a bit weird, when they used it and you didn’t know that these were just letters and not words. Imagine something like “The password is ‘Juliet Charlie’, which is easy to remember, because it is ‘just cold'”. Yeah, right, two other words starting with the same letters, now that’s easy. Of course, when you know that Juliet and Charlie were simply the letters J and C …

    Anyway, just a few years ago (it was in the early 2000s) I talked to someone on the phone while I was in the US. I had to give her my name and started with my first name, so I said,”My first name is Ralf. Romeo, Alpha, Lima, Foxtrot.”
    She then asked me if I could spell that!
    I replied, “Ehm, sure, Are Ey El Eff.”
    Then there was a short pause followed by her asking, “That’s all?”

    Maybe I was too quick with spelling my name.

  2. To do this by the book, words should be only 2 syllable. Not as much fun but it’s a good test of vocabulary and comprehension.

  3. Not only should we all use the phonetic alphabet but also the 24 hr or military clock. It removes all ambiguity from the conversations. I have all digital clocks in my house, car and wrist set to 24 hour time if capable.

  4. I like it! Although Putrescent and Xenopus might cause more problems then actually help the process. I think you need to stay with Xray, it is so common and maybe Pork Rind

  5. I often give reservation time for meetings in Zulu (GMT) time to help weed out those that either don’t know, or are too lazy to figure it out.

  6. If you really want to test them use some my son recommended for me

    g – gnat
    p – pterodactyl
    t – tsunami
    w – Wrap

  7. I like the comment on Zulu (GMT) time! Think next time I speak with a rep might ask them so it lands ____ Zulu time. Yes everyone should use phonetic alphabet, sometimes you get a response “your a pilot” and just let them know I guess you could call it that when I take the C172 up.

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