Those ‘Ding’ Sounds on Airplanes Actually Mean Something

May 8, 2019

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Anyone who’s flown on an airplane is likely familiar with a dinging sound, usually heard once back on land. It turns out, the chime means much more than being able to take off your seatbelt. Additionally, passengers may have heard a “boing” sound and, on occasion, a two-toned combination of high and low tones that resonates throughout the cabin. With so many variations, travelers may be left wondering: What do these gentle sounds actually mean?

Basically, it’s the airline crew’s way of communicating with each other from across the aircraft. In a blog post, Qantas revealed the meaning behind its chimes — a “boing” sound shortly after takeoff lets the crew know that the landing gear is being retracted, while a single chime signifies that a passenger requires assistance. When a section of the cabin requires more drinks or snacks, for example, a crew member can call another crew section within and a high-low chime combination goes off. When there’s turbulence ahead, a trio of low tones signals the crew to buckle up.

While the ding associated with turning off the seatbelt sign is similar among most airlines, the meaning behind other chime combinations isn’t always universal. As Airbus spokeswoman Kara Evanko explained to The Huffington Post, each carrier customizes its sound system differently. Several airlines — including JetBlue, Delta and American — confirmed their fleet’s usage of chimes, though their spokespersons declined to share details citing security reasons.

“Think of it as a language between the pilots and flight attendants,” Southwest spokeswoman Thais Hanson told The Points Guy. “A chime also accompanies the lighting or extinguishing of a sign; for example, when the seatbelt sign goes off and customers are able to move about cabin to use the facilities or stretch their legs, this will be indicated by a chime. While I can’t share all of our chime combinations and meanings, [the sounds] are used to signal to both flight crews and customers that an action is needed or has occurred.”

Featured image courtesy of Getty.

H/T: The Huffington Post

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