I’ve written about air travel codes before like the incomparable SUX (for Sioux City’s airport), and that’s no dig – I admire how those scrappy Iowans take advantage of an unfortunate code by slapping it on souvenirs. And maybe you saw my take on stock ticker symbols which included Southwest’s LUV.
Now let’s look at the weird and sometimes wonderful airline codes assigned by the International Civil Aviation Organization (ICAO). These three-letter designations are used by air traffic controllers and pilots vs. the two-letter codes issued by the International Air Transport Association (IATA) for use in reservations and ticketing. You know, UA for United, DL for Delta and so on. Blah and boring – which is not true for the ICAO codes.
Crazy Airline Codes
Note: The ICAO list of codes includes current airlines and carriers that have gone out of business (as is the case with some listed below) as well as an assortment of entities with planes including flight schools, freight haulers, large corporations and more. Some favorites:
OMG, WTF: Too bad there’s no LOL airline code – it would come in handy discussing the airlines known as OMG (UK’s Aeromega) and WTF (the defunct West African Air Transport) .
POW, BAM, WOW: These codes have nothing to do with comic book characters – they stand for, in order, Hagondale Limited (a British financial company), Business Air Services of Canada and Air Southwest (a now-defunct UK carrier and not to be confused with Dallas-based Southwest).
ACK, IRK, KFC: The first one (which sounds like a cat getting rid of a hairball) stands for Massachusetts’ Nantucket Airlines, the scond is Iran’s Kish Air, and the one that sounds like a bucket of chicken represents the Ukraine’s Kremenchuk Flight College.
Some of these sound like more fun that a barrel of monkeys:
- FUN: Funtshi Aviation Service
- FAB: First Air
- EZY: Europe’s discount carrier EasyJet
- AHH: Airplanes Holdings, an Irish firm
Some of these exude a hint of danger:
- BOO: Bookajet Limited
- GRR: Agroar – Trabalhos Aereos
- DOA: Not sure why but the Dominican Republic airline assigned this code is no longer in business
More Odd Codes
So many odd ones, so little space.
- AWW: Air Wales [Editor's note: sounds like something you'd find on Cute Overload]
- NPR: Air Napier, which kind of makes sense, all things considered
- HIP: Starship, whatever that is (maybe it’s located on another planet)