man looking out a window at an airport watching an airplane take off

27 Useful English Vocabulary Words for the Airport

Having to speak another language while traveling can be very stressful.

Especially at an airport!

Whether you’re an ESL student or someone who uses English professionally, I hope this blog post can help you improve your English so that you can start your vacation on a high note!


1. Airline

Part of Speech: Noun

The airline or carrier you fly with is the name of the company that owns the airplane. For example, 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.

2. Arrivals

Part of Speech: Noun

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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.

people boarding a plane at an airport

3. Board

Part of Speech: Verb

To board (a plane) means to go onto it.

All passengers on Belle Air flight 2216 must go to the gate. The plane will begin boarding in 10 minutes.

two boarding passes against a white background

4. Boarding pass

Part of Speech: Noun

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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.

5. Boarding time

Part of Speech: Noun

Your boarding time is the time that people will be allowed to start entering the plane.

Boarding time was changed due to a technical problem. We would like to apologize for the delay.

6. Book (a ticket)

Part of Speech: Verb

When you book a ticket, it means that you have reserved your place and paid for it.

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Hi, how can I help you?

I’d like to book a return ticket to Paris, please.

setting of the business class section of an airplane

7. Business class

Part of Speech: Noun

Business class is the area where people who are traveling for business purposes sit. It’s towards the front of the plane and the tickets are more expensive than normal tickets.

We’d like to invite all our passengers flying in business class to start boarding.

man walking through an airport with a carry on luggage

8. Carry on (luggage)

Part of Speech: Noun

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.

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I’m sorry, but your carry on is too heavy. You will have to check it.

people at an airport check in waiting in line

9. Check in

Part of Speech: Verb/Noun

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).

conveyer belt at an airport for baggage claim

10. Conveyor belt / Carousel / Baggage claim

Part of Speech: Noun

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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.

11. Customs

Part of Speech: Noun

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 forbidden, you should answer “no.”

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blonde business woman waiting bored at an airport

12. Delayed

Part of Speech: Adjective

If your flight has been delayed, it means that it’s late. Maybe it has been delayed because of bad weather, too much air traffic, or technical problems.

Ladies and gentlemen, this is an announcement that flight NZ245 has been delayed. Your new departure time is 2.25.

13. Departures

Part of Speech: Noun

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.

economy class of an airplane with blue seats

14. Economy class

Part of Speech: Noun

Most people who travel by plane travel in economy class because the price is much cheaper.

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?

first class section of an airplane

15. First class

Part of Speech: Noun

First class is the most expensive area of the plane. There is a lot of space to move. The seats are bigger and the service is better.

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.

16. Fragile

Part of Speech: Adjective

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.

airport gate at an airport with the text B15

17. Gate

Part of Speech: Noun

In the departures lounge there are a number of different gates (doors) that lead to different flights.

Can you tell me where flight AZ672 to New York departs from, please?

Yes, it leaves from gate A27.

passport tucked into a man's pocket

18. Identification (ID)

Part of Speech: Noun

Your identification (also known as “ID”) is your official document that you need to ensure you are who you say you 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?

19. Liquids

Part of Speech: Noun

Liquids are anything that is not solid or gas, such as a bottle of water or perfume. 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.

20. Long-haul flight

Part of Speech: Noun

A flight that travels a long distance in one go is a long-haul flight. 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.

21. Luggage

Part of Speech: Noun

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.

Luggage is uncountable and it can mean 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.

22. On time

Part of Speech: Adjective

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.

woman holding two blue airport tickets

23. One-way (ticket) / Return ticket / Round-trip ticket

Part of Speech: Noun

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 ticketIf 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.

24. Oversized baggage / Overweight baggage

Part of Speech: Noun

Each passenger is only allowed to have one suitcase that weighs 20kg or less. If you 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.

25. Stopover / Layover

Part of Speech: Noun

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.

young blonde woman travel agent talking over a headset

26. Travel agent

Part of Speech: Noun

A travel agent is a person who will help you organize your travel plans and book your flights.

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.

airport visa with text that says United Kingdom

27. Visa

Part of Speech: Noun

A visa is a special document that gives you permission to enter a country. Some countries have strict laws and depending where you’re from, you may need to obtain (get) a visa.

Could you tell me if a person from Albania needs a visa to travel to Italy?

How long are you going for?

3 weeks.

No, you don’t need a visa. Albanian citizens can travel up to 3 months without a visa to any EU country.


Learn some of these essential English words to help make your travel experience an enjoyable one.

To better understand this and the other words in this list, I highly recommend that you watch and listen to authentic English content.

For example, there’s a whole movie set in an airport called “The Terminal,” which is a good way to hear airport vocabulary being used naturally.

You can also search for any of these words on FluentU, where you’ll find real English videos.

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And when you arrive in your new country, make sure you speak as much English as possible to practice.

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