If you’re lucky enough to be travelling abroad, this blog post should help you with some tips for English at the airport.
Most countries have signs in English and English speaking staff so with a little practice, you’ll be ready to go!
Here are the English phrases you should know in travel situations.
List of Airport English Phrases
- check in
- boarding pass
At the Airport
Let’s start as you arrive at the airport and work our way through!
When you arrive, the airport building might have more than one terminal. A terminal is like a stop for the airport!
Some airports will have a terminal for domestic (within the country) or international (between two countries) flights.
Other airports will have different terminals depending on who the airline is – that is, which company is operating your flight.
The terminal will have two parts: arrivals and departures.
If you’re going on holiday, you want to head to departures. Departures means you’re leaving your country. If you’re meeting somebody at the airport who has come from another place, you want arrivals. Arrivals means someone is coming.
Getting Your Boarding Pass
Once you’re in the correct part of the building, you’ll need to check in. It’s becoming more and more common to check in online.
You often need to provide your passport details and that’s when you get allocated a seat. It might be a window seat, or the aisle seat. If you’re unlucky, you’ll get the middle seat!
After you’ve checked in, you’ll get a boarding pass. This might be on your phone/tablet, or you might get a paper one.
If you check in at the airport, you’ll be asked “have you got any luggage to go in the hold?” This means your large bags or suitcases. Hand luggage is your small bag, rucksack, or very small suitcase that you take on the plane with you and put above your seat. If your hold luggage is very big, you’ll be asked to take it to oversized luggage which is usually a separate desk.
Some airports now have bag drops for after you’ve checked in online. This is where you check in your suitcase or large bags.
Before You Get On the Plane
After you're checked in, you can follow the signs for departures.
You’ll have to go through security – that’s where your bags get scanned and you walk through the metal detector. You might be asked to take your shoes off, and you’ll definitely be asked to take off your belt, watch and any jewellery. The staff will probably ask you “Have you got a laptop, tablet, or electronic device?” and you’ll be asked to take this out your bag and put it on the tray.
Once you’re through security, you’ll have some time to relax before your flight! If you buy anything in a shop, you’ll probably have to show your boarding pass so have it ready!
Get On or Get In the Airplane?
For more information on the difference between “get on” and “get in” click here.
Getting off the Plane
When it’s time to board (get on) your flight, you’ll be asked to go to a gate. This is where everybody waits for your flight.
When it’s time to board, you’ll be asked for your passport and boarding pass. Sometimes boarding will be done by seat number, so make sure you know what numbers to listen out for.
After your flight, you’ll go through security again – this time, they’ll be checking your passport and visa. They might ask you “what is the purpose of your stay?” or “how long are you staying for?”
Then, you can go and pick up your bags. After you’ve collected your bags, you’ll go through customs. This is where your bags could get checked. Make sure you know what you need to declare for the place you’re visiting.
Finally, you’ll be in arrivals. You can follow the signs for public transport or taxis, or meet someone who’s come to pick you up!
Hopefully now you feel a little more confident travelling through the airport.
Next time you go on holiday, see how many signs you can recognise in English. The airport is a perfect place to practice your English – even in your own country, so good luck!