You’ve checked in, made it through security, queued for the gate and waited to board your flight. Finally, you’re onboard and sitting in your seat waiting for the plane to take off. What’s the problem? You’re waiting for a slot.
A slot is a position in a group, series or sequence that an individual or entity occupies or has the opportunity to occupy. A slot can also refer to a specific time or place where something occurs: a) In ornithology, the narrow notch between the tips of the primary feathers of certain birds that helps to maintain a steady flow of air over the wings during flight. b) In ice hockey, the unmarked area in front of an opponent’s goal that affords a good vantage point for attacking players.
Slot also refers to a particular place on a reel in a mechanical slot machine, or a specific number of stops on a multiple-reel electronic slot machine. As the technology for slots evolved, manufacturers programmed machines to weight particular symbols to create different odds of appearing on a payline. In electromechanical machines, a missing or malfunctioning symbol would trigger a “tilt” that broke the machine’s circuit and stopped the reels from spinning. Modern slots no longer use tilt switches, but any kind of technical fault – door switch in the wrong state, reel motor out of order, paper ticket with barcode missing – still triggers a “tilt” and will prevent the machine from paying out.