Oxygen Mask

English: Oxygen mask

French: Masque d’oxygène

Here’s an expression that flight attendants will use, but perhaps not as often as you’d think.

Most airplanes are outfitted with oxygen masks above passenger seats. Airplanes that are not equipped with oxygen masks are not allowed to fly above a certain altitude. At very high altitudes, the oxygen in the air is very thin and if the plane were to lose cabin pressure, people in the plane would lose consciousness quite quickly due to the lack of oxygen in the air. There are also oxygen masks above flight attendants jump seats, in the flight deck, and in the lavatories, in case of sudden depressurization. If depressurization were to happen at a high altitude, the pilots will immediately descend to a lower altitude where the outside oxygen is sufficient, and oxygen masks in the plane serve to provide people with enough oxygen during that descent.

Contrary to popular belief, smoke in the cabin will not trigger oxygen masks to drop. Smoke usually means fire and introducing more oxygen in the cabin will only fuel the fire.

In French, “oxygen mask” is “masque d’oxygène.”

Masque (m)=Mask

Oxygène (m)=Oxygen

D’oxygène=Of oxygen

Oxygen masks are an integral part of most airplanes, and their usage is usually explained in the safety demonstration before take off. Depending on the airline and airplane, the safety demonstration is usually prerecorded and played to the passengers before every take off (in both official languages for Canadian airlines), so unless the flight attendants actually have to read the safety demonstration aloud, you probably won’t need to say “masque d’oxygène” that often. However, when briefing a passenger with a lap-held infant, you may need to instruct them on oxygen mask use with the baby, and if you’re briefing the passenger in French, this is where you will use “masque d’oxygène”.

Module 5 of Canadian French for Flight Attendants teaches a full generic French briefing for passengers with lap-held infants.