What is it?
The travel industry uses the phonetic alphabet to communicate information, ensuring details are understood with accuracy. Travel Agents use it to communicate reservation details, pilots use it to communicate with air traffic control, and land suppliers such as hotel or car hire also use the phonetic alphabet to confirm names and booking references for example. The phonetic alphabet provides a universally accepted language to ensure clear communication.
Everyone has had the experience of clarifying the spelling of their name over the phone, getting stuck wondering what T stands for and then using good old ‘T for Tom’ like a contestant on the wheel of fortune.
Next time you phone a travel agent or supplier, we encourage you to try spelling your name using the phonetic alphabet. Get a friend or family to pop quiz you and before you know it you will be sounding like a professional in no time. Those in the travel industry will be very impressed!
The NATO phonetic alphabet became effective in 1956 and just a few years later became the established universal phonetic alphabet. However, it took several adaptations before the version used today came into effect.
In the 1920s, the International Telecommunication Union (ITU) produced the first phonetic alphabet to be recognized internationally. It featured names of cities across the globe.
Amsterdam, Baltimore, Casablanca, Denmark, Edison, Florida, Gallipoli, Havana, Italia, Jerusalem, Kilogramme, Liverpool, Madagascar, New York, Oslo, Paris, Quebec, Roma, Santiago, Tripoli, Uppsala, Valencia, Washington, Xanthippe, Yokohama, Zurich.
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