We had a question this week from Jacek in Poland about how to pronounce airline flights numbers. The flight number is the number that each plane trip is given, and is usually two, three, or four digits (numbers) in the United States. For example, if I fly from Los Angeles to Minneapolis, I might take Northwest flight 304. “304” is the number of the flight; “Northwest” is the name of the airline.
While in many cases you could pronounce this number “three hundred and four,” that is not how you would pronounce it in the context of a flight number. In other words, if you’re at the airport and listening for an announcement for your flight number, you will not hear them say “three hundred and four.” Here are the rules for pronouncing numbers at the airport:
If it is a two digit flight number, we pronounce it as a “regular” number. So flight 34 would be pronounced “thirty-four.” It is also possible to use the individual numbers — “three four.”
For three digit flight numbers, we pronounce the individual numbers only. So, flight 304 would be pronounced “three zero four.” You would not say “three hundred and four.”
For four digit flight numbers, there are two possibilities. Let’s take the example of flight 2567. This can be pronounced “twenty-five sixty-seven,” grouping the numbers two by two, or it can be pronounced using the individual numbers “two five six seven.” Again, we would not say “two thousand five hundred and sixty-seven.”
So listen carefully when you’re at the airport. We don’t want you to miss (not get on in time) your flight!