Summer’s just around the corner.
School’s almost finished for the year and many workers will be going on vacation.
Maybe you’re going back home to your home country.
Or maybe you’ll be heading (going) abroad (to another country).
There are many different ways of visiting another country.
You can travel by car, coach, train or ferry, but the most popular and quickest way to travel is by plane.
And when you travel by plane, you have to obviously go to the airport.
And no matter where you are, English is used at every single airport.
Any airport can be really stressful, even if it’s in your own country.
So imagine having to speak another language while you’re there!
Whether you’re an ESL student or someone who uses English professionally, we hope this blog post can help you improve your English so that you can start your vacation on a high note!
25 Essential Airport English Vocabulary Words
To see practical English vocabulary like the words in the list below being used in real situations, try learning English with FluentU. FluentU takes real-world videos—like movie trailers, news and more—and turns them into personalized language lessons.
The airline or carrier you fly with is the name of the company that owns the airplane e.g. Singapore Airlines, British Airways.
I need to book a flight to Berlin next week. Which airline do you suggest I fly with?
The cheapest airline that flies to Germany is Lufthansa. It’s a German carrier.
When your plane arrives at the airport, your family and friends will meet you at arrivals.
Jane, I’ll meet you in the arrivals lounge. I’ll be holding a sign to tell you I’m looking for you.
Boarding pass (N)
After you have notified the airline you are at the airport and you’ve checked your luggage, you will be given a boarding pass that shows you where the plane will be boarding and it will also show your seat number.
Sir, this is your boarding pass. You will be boarding at gate 22 at 6.35.
Boarding time (N)
Your boarding time is the time that people will be allowed to start entering the plane.
Boarding will begin in approximately 5 minutes. We ask all families with young children to move to the front of the line.
Book (a ticket) (V)
When you book a ticket it means that you have reserved your place and paid for it.
Hi, how can I help you?
I’d like to book a return ticket to Paris, please.
We’d like to invite all our passengers flying in business class to start boarding.
Carry on (luggage) (N)
Your carry on luggage is the small piece of hand luggage that you are allowed to take with you onto the plane. These bags usually have to be a certain size and weigh less than 8kg.
I’m sorry, but your carry on is too heavy. You will have to check it.
Check in (V/N)
When you check in, you notify the airline you have arrived at the airport. They will take your suitcase and give you a boarding pass. The area where you do this action is also called check-in.
How many passengers are checking in with you?
It’s a large school group. We have 45 people in our party (group).
Conveyor belt/carousel/baggage claim (N)
When your plane arrives, your bags and suitcases come out on the moving conveyor belt. Another word that you might hear for this is a carousel or baggage claim.
All passengers arriving from New York can pick up their luggage from carousel 4.
Before you’re allowed to enter the country, you must go through customs where you will be met by a customs officer. Here they will check if you’re bringing anything illegal into the country such as firearms (guns), drugs or too much money and they will ask you if you “have anything to declare?” If you’re not carrying anything that is forbidden, you should answer “no.”
Ladies and gentlemen, this is an announcement that flight NZ245 has been delayed. Your new departure time is 2.25.
When you are leaving to go on a trip, you will need to go to the departures lounge where you will wait to board your flight.
All passengers flying to Istanbul are kindly requested to go to the departures lounge.
I’d like to book an economy class ticket to Rome next Friday.
Would you like to make it return or one-way?
A return ticket. I’d like to come back the following Friday.
Okay then, for one week?
Next time I want to fly first class.
Why? It’s so expensive!
I’m just too tall. I have no leg room in economy.
Sometimes we carry things that are delicate or easily broken when we travel. A way of letting the people handling our suitcases know is to mark it with a sticker saying fragile. This will show them that they need to be a little more careful with your stuff.
Can you tell me where flight AZ672 to New York departs from, please?
Yes, it leaves from gate A27.
Your ID or your personal identification is your official document that you need to ensure you are who you really are. When flying, the ID you’re required to carry is your passport.
I’d like to book a flight to New Jersey for tomorrow.
Certainly, can I see your ID please?
Liquids are anything that is not solid or hard or has a watery base such as a bottle of water, perfume or foundation. All airports do not allow passengers to travel with more than 100ml of liquids. All liquids you do carry on the plane must be put in a plastic bag.
Are you traveling with any liquids?
Yes, I have this deodorant.
I’m sorry, but that is too big. Each container must not exceed (go over) 100ml.
Long-haul flight (N)
A flight that travels a long distance in one go for example a long-haul flight would be flying from New York to Sydney.
I really don’t like long-haul flights and wished we had a stopover somewhere, but we really need to get back on that day and we don’t have time.
On time (Adj)
When you are traveling and you want to check the status of your flight you can look at the departures board. Here you will see all your flight information and if it says that your flight number is on time then the plane will depart at the right time.
One-way (ticket) (N)
If you ask for a one-way ticket it means that you do not want to return to your destination. The opposite of a one-way ticket is a return ticket. If you want to purchase both, that’s called a round-trip ticket.
Hi, I’d like to book a one-way ticket to Hong Kong.
What’s your purpose (reason) for traveling?
We’re emigrating (moving for a new life) there.
Oversized baggage/Overweight baggage (N)
Each passenger is only allowed to have one suitcase that weighs 20kg or less. If they have a big piece that you want to send or something that is too heavy, the people at check in will charge you more money.
I’m sorry madam, but your bag is overweight.
By how many kilos?
One minute, let me just take a few things out.
If you are traveling on a long-haul flight, you usually have to have a short stop in another country first. This stop is called a stopover or a layover.
If you’re traveling from Europe to Australia, it’s recommended that you have a stopover either in Los Angeles or Dubai because the flight is very long otherwise.
I tried looking for a flight online, but I couldn’t book it with my credit card.
You should visit the travel agent in the mall, she is very good and they have great offers.
Could you tell me if a person from Albania needs a visa to travel to Italy?
How long are you going for?
No, you don’t require (need) a visa. Albanian citizens can travel up to 3 months without a visa to any EU country.
Helpful Tips Luggage/baggage vs. suitcase/bag
A common mistake among non-English speakers is the difference between luggage and bag.
The word bag is countable, which means we can say many bags or 3 bags whereas luggage is uncountable and it can mean either one bag or many. If you want to make the word luggage plural, you would add the phrase ‘pieces of…’ in front of it.
How many pieces of luggage do you want to check in today sir?
2 pieces. Okay, that’s fine.
If we want to wish someone a good flight or journey in English, we can also use the French phrase “Bon voyage.”
Traveling by plane can be really exciting, especially if you’re heading to a place where you’ve never been before, but at the same time it can get really stressful too, especially if you have problems understanding the English that’s used at the airport. Do yourself a favor and learn some of these essential words to help make your travel experience an enjoyable one. When you arrive in your new country, make sure you speak as much English as possible to practice, and don’t forget to take lots of cool photos.
Safe travels. Bon voyage!
If you liked this post, something tells me that you'll love FluentU, the best way to learn English with real-world videos.