A courtesy telephone is a telephone located in airport terminals, large train stations, hotel lobbies, and other places where many travellers are expected, which is used to relay messages to a specific person.
It is typically used in connection with a public address system announcement of the style "Jane Doe, please pick up the nearest white courtesy telephone." Courtesy telephones may have a distinctive color, which is traditionally white in US airports, and most have no dialing capabilities but rather are simple ringdown stations to reach an operator or other fixed number. Some double as emergency telephones, having buttons by which a user can distinguish between emergency use and inquiry.
Customers can use a courtesy phone to seek information, such as where to find further transport or a person trying to meet them. Some courtesy phones provide a direct line to a number of advertised businesses, such as motels or taxis. They may be located near baggage claim, ticketing areas, and security checkpoints.
Other telephones in public or semi-public places which may be used to make outside calls are also sometimes called "courtesy telephones".
In popular culture
Courtesy telephones are featured prominently as a running gag in the cult comedy film Airplane!.
- Rick Belliotti (2008), Common use facilities and equipment at airports, p. 10, ISBN 978-0-309-09805-2
- Scott Keagy (2000), "Private Line Automatic Ring-Down", Integrating voice and data networks, p. 603, ISBN 978-1-57870-196-4
- "Council okays airport phone center", The Southeast Missourian (February 4, 1987), page 4. Retrieved July 9, 2011
- "Taxis". Yankee Landing. Archived from the original on January 14, 2011. Retrieved July 16, 2011.
- Ngcobo, Sipho "Airport approves advertising contract", The Times-News, (March 20, 1990), page 3. Retrieved July 9, 2011
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