I flew home from Atlanta by airline this morning. I had been forced to cancel my plan to fly myself down early Monday because of severe mechanical turbulence around Ottawa up to 6,000 feet (confirmed by a PIREP from a Navajo).
Atlanta/Hartsfield, the world’s busiest airport (by passenger traffic), has five concourses designated A, B, C, D, and E, and a mini subway train connecting them. A recorded voice announces each stop:
The next stop will be concourse A, as in alfa.
The next stop will be concourse B, as in bravo.
The next stop will be concourse C, as in charlie.
The next stop will be concourse D, as in david.
The next stop will be concourse E, as in echo.
OK, back up a bit … why does every stop use standard radio phonetics except for D? I’d like to think that it was in honour of my birthday today, but it took me only a moment to think of a better explanation. Atlanta is the major hub for Delta Air Lines, so using the standard radio phonetic delta for the letter D would look like special treatment (though most pilots probably wouldn’t notice). It’s kind-of funny, but I do understand the problem, and appreciate the choice of an alternative — I hope that the Dans, Dorises, Denises, and Dougs of the world don’t mind.
During the flight, I started trying to think of other airlines whose names include radio phonetics. Canada once had Air Canada Tango and Québecair. Is there a Foxtrot Airlines, or Air Zulu? I imagine that no one would call an airline Charlie, since it’s U.S. military slang for the enemy (especially an enemy aircraft, at least in cheesy war movies), and could cause unfortunate misunderstandings.