Deadheading is the practice of carrying, free of charge, a transport company's own staff on a normal passenger trip so that they can be in the right place to begin their duties. In

What is the translation of deadheading in French? Google Translate and Linguee weren't helpful.

  • I had not checked Linguee before I posted my answer but, as you can see, haut-le-pied is in good position when you search for "deadheading".
    – None
    Commented May 17 at 18:40
  • @None Thanks, indeed, when I was skimming through it I had assumed a translation error since I only had the air travel use case in mind. I now realize haut le pied = not driving, and it was extended to the air travel use case. Commented May 17 at 18:51

2 Answers 2


In French there's the phrase déplacement haut-le-pied which is very rarely used for people in France but it is used in other French speaking countries. According to Wikipedia it is used in Belgium and Switzerland :

Cette expression est utilisée en Belgique à propos du personnel roulant des trains : un conducteur ou un accompagnateur de trains haut-le-pied (abrégé HLP) signifie qu'il effectue un déplacement en train, en bus ou en taxi sans exercer sa fonction (sans conduire pour le conducteur, sans être ni chef de train ni contrôle pour l'accompagnateur).

And in the Glossaire ferroviaire:

En Suisse également, ce terme désigne une course de service effectuée en tant que voyageur par le personnel roulant (mécanicien de locomotives, etc.)

It is also used in Canada, as we can see on the official website of the Government of Canada. In the section devoted to the "Duty and Rest Period Rules for Railway Operating Employees" there's a sub-section entitled "Maximum Duty Period, Emergency Situations, Deadheading and Re-crews". In the corresponding French webpage Règles relatives aux périodes de service et de repos du personnel d’exploitation ferroviaire, the sub-section is called: Période de service maximale, situations d'urgence, déplacements haut le pied et équipes de relève.

Déplacement haut-le-pied in the GDT translated into English as "deadheading".

I have never heard the word haut-le-pied used for people in France but it is commonly used for vehicles operating without carrying or accepting passengers ("dead mileage" in English). Picture of une locomotive haut-le-pied.

  • 1
    Tu as répondu haut la main :-)
    – jlliagre
    Commented May 17 at 19:39
  • This matches exactly the definition of haut-le-pied in fr.WP: fr.wikipedia.org/wiki/Haut-le-pied ; OTOH, in the Parisian Metro Corporation (RATP) 25yrs ago, HLP exclusively denoted the moving around of trains w/o commercial stops, not of personnel. The latter is normally done by estafette vans, not commercial vehicles. Commented May 19 at 13:50
  • Also, at RATP's they offered me the folk etymology "keeping the foot high over the brake pedal, w/out ever pushing it down", hence "w/out stopping en route". Commented May 19 at 14:07

Deadheading is also called repositioning, and the term used in French is repositionnement. See, for example, the following definition from page 1 of this doctoral thesis (Kasirzadeh, A. (2015). Optimisation intégrée des rotations et des blocs mensuels personnalisés des équipages en transport aérien [Ph.D. thesis, École Polytechnique de Montréal]):

Deadhead (vol de repositionnement) : Un segment de vol dans lequel un membre d’équipage vole en tant que passager à des fins de repositionnement.

Deadheading can refer to the repositioning of either the plane or one or more members of the crew, as explained in the below definitions in French and English (found here and here):

Repositionnement — Voler du point de destination au point d'origine suivant, sans porter de CHARGE PAYANTE (dans le cas d'un aéronef) ou sans être responsable de la charge utile (dans le cas d'un membre d'équipage). Exemple: une compagnie aérienne américaine régulière opère un vol charter de Los Angeles à Lisbonne. Puis, sans charge utile, il vole vers Paris, où il embarquera des passagers et du fret pour un vol régulier de retour vers Los Angeles. Aussi connu sous le nom de deadheading, vol en ferry.

Repositioning — Flying from the point of destination to the next point of origin, without carrying any PAYLOAD (in the case of an aircraft) or without being responsible for payload (in the case of a crew member). Example: a scheduled U.S. airline operates a charter flight from Los Angeles to Lisbon. Then, payload-free, it flies to Paris, where it will board passengers and cargo for a scheduled flight back to Los Angeles. Also known as deadheading, ferry flight.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.