Dinging on Flights

Q: On every flight, there are always some dinging sounds that come through the announcement system. Is this some sort of signaling device for the cabin crew?

Yes. Every airline has its own rules for how many dings mean what. It’s the likes of “We’ll be landing soon, so get the cabin ready.” Another set of chimes tells the attendants that the plane has passed through a certain altitude, which means they now may contact the cockpit without fear of interrupting a critical phase of flight.


This article is part of a collection that originally appeared on Salon.com. Patrick Smith, 38, is an erstwhile airline pilot, retired punk rocker and air travel columnist. His book, Ask the Pilot (Riverhead) was voted “Best Travel Book of 2004” by Amazon.com. Patrick has traveled to more than 55 countries and always asks for a window seat. He lives near Boston.