What Is a Slot?


In the context of aircraft operations, a slot is an authorization to take-off or land at a given airport on a given day during a given time period. Slots are used in the United States and around the world to manage air traffic at busy airports and prevent repeated delays caused by too many flights trying to take off or land at the same time.

A slot is a narrow opening in something, especially a machine or container. It can also refer to a place in a schedule or program that has been reserved for a specific activity. A slot in a calendar can be filled by an event or activity, such as a meeting, class, or appointment.

The term slot can also be used for a position on a team’s roster or in an organization’s hierarchy, particularly in an academic setting where positions are allocated based on merit. For example, a high school sports team might allocate their top players to the slot positions on their teams in order to give them a better chance of succeeding on their chosen sport.

Slot is also a term that can be used for a narrow opening in an aircraft’s wing or tail surface that is used to support a high-lift or control device, such as an aileron or flap. In the sports arena, slot receivers are shorter than traditional wide receivers and can stretch the defense vertically through their speed. They are most often used in the 3-1 receiver/back/tight end formation, and have become an increasingly important part of NFL offenses as teams have started to lean on these smaller, quicker receivers.