English lit. time!

Anyone out there who has a somewhat-literate position:

Is the term “alternate flights” or “alternative flights“?

Question came up at work, and I’m interested in everyone’s input.


  • Josh

    Alternate. An alternative flight would involve birds, or some other kind of way of flying.

  • Yaffa

    Alternate, assuming you are talking about various flight choices (for example, which route you’ll be taking or which airline carrier). If, however, you mean a flight that caters to those “different from the usual, unconventional” i.e., an airline flight for transsexual nudists with an inexplicable affinity for hot pink spandex, then the correct term would be alternative.

    If you’re talking about flights of stairs, though, that’s a whole other can of worms.

    • Thanks for your lovely examples – I’ll be sure to raise them when we discuss this topic at work. 🙂
      How does this apply to a flight of stairs? Can you provide examples for an “alternative flight of stairs”?

      • Yaffa

        Obviously you’ve never been to San Fransisco.

  • Lisa Hertel

    Depends on context. Alternate could mean “every other,” or a secondary option. Alternative could mean secondary option, or it could refer to sexual preference. I prefer alternative, personally.

    • Thanks for your input.

      The context is “Your flight was canceled, choose a different flight”.

      In your opinion, which would be the proper choice? Alternate or Alternative?

      • Josh

        As we all explained, the correct form to use in that context is “alternate flight”.
        The only reason for you to use an alternative flight is if there are no aircraft of any kind flying, and you must use a witch’s broom or attach dozens of birds to your shirt or something like that.

        • Thanks for that.
          It’s now very clear, and I hope it’ll clarify it for others here as well.

    • Yaffa

      Alternate would mean “every other” were it alternating, no?