If you ever hear a flight attendant talking about a ‘Jim Wilson” – it probably won’t be the person sitting in the row next to you.
That’s because ‘Jim Wilson” is actually the code used by airlines to refer to dead bodies being transported on a flight. Flying can be nerve-wracking enough without the added unease of knowing there’s a casket on board, so attendants used the code when discussing the cargo with colleagues and undertakers. Unsurprisingly, knowing there is a body on board isn’t exactly a relaxing thought, so the code is used to avoid anyone freaking out.
The name is believed to come from the Jim Wilson Trays used to contain those who have passed away, that are then packed with ice to preserve the body. How common is it to have a body on your flight though? According to Sara Marsden, the Editor in Chief for US Funerals Online around 50,000 dead bodies are transported every year.
American Airlines even have a dedicated help desk to deal with funeral homes transporting those who have passed away called the American Airlines Jim Wilson Service. Schipol Airport in Amsterdam even has it’s own mortuary and deals with approximately 2,000 bodies every year.
If the thought of flying with a dead body unnerves you, then there are certain airlines that don’t take caskets as they don’t have a facility for carrying such cargo, including British airline EasyJet.
It’s not the only code airlines use when discussing sensitive information, with a whole secret language used by airline employees, airport staff and emergency services to communicate. According to The Independent “Blue juice” refers to the toilet water on a plane, while “crotch watch” is shorthand for the seat belt check.
More seriously, and ones you hope never to hear “7500” refers to a hijacking or a threat of hijacking and “7700” is a general emergency.