This Is What Those Airport Taxiway Signs Mean

When your plane is taking forever to taxi to the runway, find out where you’re really headed.

How to read airport taxiway signsPhoto: Sirada Wichitaphornkun/Shutterstock

Here’s the secret meaning behind those airport taxiway signs

The worst part of every flight is indubitably the time before you even get off the ground. The plane is packed, everyone is anxious to get off the ground, and the pilot is taking upward of 15 minutes to taxi around the airport. Is the airport even this big? Where could this plane possibly be going? For something that’s about to take us thousands of feet into the air at nearly 500 kilometres per hour, we certainly don’t know much about planes—check out these 21 things your flight attendant won’t tell you to fill some of those knowledge gaps.

There’s actually a pretty complex system of taxiways and runways that pilots have to navigate before each flight, but luckily, they are well-marked—so even passengers can follow along if they know what they’re looking at! The signs that appear most frequently on taxiways are black and yellow and have numbers or letters on them. Letters denote taxiways, while numbers indicate runways, according to The Points Guy.

A black sign with yellow letters means that you’re on the taxiway it identifies. So, if you see a yellow letter “B” on a black sign, you’re on taxiway B. Often, these are accompanied by directions to other taxiways, the signs of which are yellow with black lettering and a black arrow that points to where that taxiway is located. They will always be on the left side of the taxiway before the intersection, according to the FAA, and are arranged from left to right based on their location, clockwise, in the intersection. The same colour rules hold true for numbered signs; the numbers just mean that it’s a runway instead of a taxiway. Back on the plane, here are some hidden airplane features you didn’t know existed.

If you think those red signs look a little more urgent, it’s because they are! Pilots need special clearance to pass these because they indicate that the plane is headed for the intersection of a runway, where another plane could be gearing up to take off. So if you’re feeling impatient while taxiing before your next flight, remember that it’s because your pilot is following certain rules to keep you safe. Nervous fliers, check out these facts about flying that will help you stay calm on your next flight.

Originally Published on Reader's Digest

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