What Is a Slot?

A slot is a narrow opening into which something else can fit. A slot can also refer to an allocation of time or space: The plane had a scheduled flight in the morning but was delayed by a storm and lost its slot.

A football player who plays in the slot is usually small and quick, able to stretch the defense by running short routes like slants or quick outs. NFL teams tend to focus on speed and agility when drafting their slot receivers.

In a slot machine, players insert cash or, in ticket-in/ticket-out machines, a paper ticket with a barcode into a slot on the machine to activate it. The reels then spin and stop to rearrange the symbols, awarding credits according to a pay table. The symbols vary by game, but classics include fruits, bells, and stylized lucky sevens. Many slot games have a theme, and bonus features align with the theme.

In aviation, a slot is the allocated time and place for a plane to take off or land as authorized by an airport or air-traffic authority. The airline received more slots this season than last, thanks to the coronavirus crisis, which has caused demand for travel to drop. The airlines will be able to save on fuel costs by flying less, and the airports will benefit from reduced congestion and lower waiting times. Eventually, central flow management will help all airports improve their slot efficiency and reduce delays and wasteful fuel burn.