When you work with the radio alphabet every day, the "letters" become just letters. When I hear "Juliet" on the radio I don't have to remove the association with Shakespeare, or my grade two classmate before I can extract the J and picture it painted on the side of a helicopter or written on a chart as part of a VOR identifier. Pilots never say "J as in Juliet". It's just Juliet.
I understand that if you don't have this set of words attached to letters, that when I spell "Foxtrot Lima India Golf Hotel Tango" you can't untangle the mental images of ballroom dancing, beans, llamas, Sikhs, Gandhi, putting greens and room reservations from the letters fast enough to write down the word. And I understand that you have to search for words that match each letter if you're spelling to me. I got "Walrus" and "Nectar" in a phone readback from someone recently, and I thought it was sweet. Such readbacks are always slow enough that I can picture a tusked walrus and a honeybee perched on a flower, and still have plenty of time to write down W and N.
Recently I had to make a train reservation that resulted in my making a phone call to Germany. It's some special train that doesn't let me book online. Or that's what Google translate says the website told me. After I somehow managed to navigate a German phone menu, and heard a lot of recorded messages in German on hold, I got to talk to a person who greeted me with what was probably "Thank you for calling the big Germany train company, how may I help you." I don't speak German. I offered "Sprechen zie Inglish bitte?" I don't write German, either. The answer was "Nein." If you speak even less German than I do, that means I asked if she spoke English and she said no. Fair enough. Ball's in my court. I did, after all, call her, after navigating a website in German and getting them to send me a quote. In German. I'm not going to give up now.
Often Europeans say they don't speak a language when they mean they aren't qualified to conduct customer service in it. I offer French and perhaps should have tried every other language in which I was capable of performing the transaction, because you don't get through school in most European countries without a foreign language, but she doesn't offer anything to negotiate in counter to my French, so we're going to try this in German.
I have a file number and I know the numbers in German. If I can get her to find my file, containing my itinerary and then I say "Ja. Das is gut." I can probably give her my credit card number and be done with this. But my file number has letters in it. The radio alphabet is international, right? And trains are like planes, so they, like cops, maybe can do this. I try boldly with "mine nomer ist Sieben Romeo..." I think she figured out the Romeo, but there's a Z and a Y and she's not getting them at all. In retrospect I might have been able to come up with Fffff - Volkswagen, Zzzzz - zee, but I don't know any German words that start with Y. I'm a little disappointed in myself for not solving this problem, 'cause you've got to know how proud I would be to have conducted a transaction on the phone in German. Fortunately the operator managed to find me someone who spoke English and I got my ticket.
I could also have got a German-speaking friend to make the call for me. I even have a German friend who is a train expert and suspect he would have enjoyed finding me a better ticket price and finishing the transaction for me. Lots of things I could have done. Crashing and burning in a telephone call is so much less hazardous than doing so in an airplane that I don't spend nearly as much time planning for unexpected situations, but contingency planning is still a grand thing. And so is the radio alphabet.
It turns out that most of the letters sound just like English, with just enough sounding like something completely different that we could have had massive confusion. I'm guessing from the video that NO German words start with Y, and I don't think I would have guessed Ypsilon. Maybe "Inglisch Yes" would have worked, but then how many English speakers know to spell ja with a J?