What is a Slot and Why Can’t You Take Off As Soon As You Are Ready?

You’ve checked in on time, made it through security, found your gate, queued to get on board, struggled with the overhead lockers and settled back into your seat. Then the captain says you need to wait for a slot. What is a slot and why can’t you take off as soon as you are ready?

A slot is an allocation of a time or place by an airport or air-traffic control authority for aircraft to take off or land. These slots are usually limited and can be booked weeks or even months in advance. They are also used in high-traffic situations (such as Heathrow) or for airspace management purposes.

Slot is also a term used in poker and sports to refer to the position on a table where a player sits. These positions are not determined by skill, but rather by chance. The best slot players are able to predict the outcome of a hand by studying their opponents’ habits and betting patterns.

On a slot machine, the pay table is the list of all possible payouts based on symbol combinations. It can be displayed on the screen of a classic slot machine above and below the area that contains the reels or, on video machines, as part of the help menu.

The pay table will typically include pictures of all symbols and how much you can win for landing 3 or more matching symbols on a pay line. In addition, it will provide details on the game rules, the number of paylines, betting requirements and any bonus features. The pay table is sometimes shown in different colours to make it easier to read.