Airport Terms

 In Modern English

Airport terms are some of the first English words and phrases you need to learn as an international student in the USA. As our TALK English Schools student prepares for his or her trip to the U.S.A, not only must one be physically prepared – packed, correct documents, etc. – but also be practically prepared for the new experience.  That’s where airport terms come in. One of those experiences starts the moment you reach your destination.  You need to basically understand what the people in your host country are saying to you!  The place where this will happen first is at the airport.  Here are some very English expressions and words which are associated with the business of international air travel and airports.  Become familiar with these airport terms. Many airports around the world use English as well as their native language, so these words will help you on your global travels too!

required airport terms

Airline This is the name of the company that owns the aircraft you fly with, i.e. Delta Airlines,  China Airlines Arrivals When your plane arrives at the airport, you exit the airport at the arrivals hall.

Board When you enter the plane, this is called boarding it. One of the most airport terms to know, otherwise you could miss your plane!

Boarding pass Once you check in your luggage you are given a boarding pass with details such as departure time, your Gate Number and seat assignment.

Boarding time This is the time you enter the plane and prepare for your journey on the plane.

Book/booking This refers to the act of buying and obtaining your ticket.

Business class Business class is just behind First Class and before Economy Class, and the prices are somewhere in between first and economy fares.

Carry-on luggage Carry-on luggage is what you can take with you on the plane, and is usually a small, light bag.

Check in At Check in, you check your luggage and get your ticket verified by the airline you have booked your flight.

Conveyor belt/carousel/baggage Claim At your destination point, after immigration and customs you can go and collect you suitcases.  The area you are directed to is called baggage claim.

Customs Customs at each country of arrival check that you are not bringing in any illegal items such as gun, drugs, agricultural products, or  pets. The customs officer will ask if you ‘do you have anything to declare?’ If you are not bringing in any illegal items, tell him or her ‘no, I do not’.

Delayed If your flight has been delayed, it means that it is not going to leave at the original scheduled time.  It is late for a variety of reasons, usually bad weather

Departures Departures are where you go when you have to board a flight.

Economy class Economy class tickets and seats, in the middle and the back of the plane, are the cheapest and most popular tickets. Seats are smaller, which is the main difference between that and business or first class.

First class First class is the most expensive area of the plane, and is usually in the front of the plane.  Seats are comfier and more spacious and the service is much better.

Gate When you have gone through check-in and then baggage and passport checks you enter the departure area where there are numbered doors, or Gates, to each flight manned by the staff of the airline on which you are traveling. Your Gate number will be on your Boarding Pass.

Identification (ID) Your ID (pronounced like the letters – I and D)or your personal identification is that official document that officially identifies who you are and must be acceptable to the immigration officials of any country. This ID is  to usually in the form of a passport.

Jet lag This is the effect of traveling across many time zones, so your internal clock gets mixed up, and on arrival at your destination, your sleep patterns take time to adjust, so you may feel deeply tired in the middle of the day, and wide awake and ready to roll at 2 a.m.

Liquids 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 100 ml of liquids. All liquids you do carry on the plane must be put in a plastic bag.

Long-haul flight A flight that travels a long distance to reach its final destination is a long haul flight.  Usually across continents and oceans, such as Cape Town to Sydney.

On time The departure and arrival boards which display all flight activity at that airport will let you know if your flight is delayed, or if it is on time, which means it is leaving/arriving according to the schedule you have.

Over-sized baggage/Overweight baggage/Excess baggage For most international air travel, you can check in one suitcase maximum weight 20 kgs. Anything over that or an extra suitcase or piece of luggage will mean an extra charge

Passport This is the internationally accepted document which allows you to enter other countries than your own, and to prove when you are returning home that you are a resident and do not need any other travel documents or visas to re-enter.

Roundtrip or return ticket In the USA the term used for a ticket which will get you and a destination, and back is a roundtrip ticket.  Other countries may use the term return ticket.  A one-way ticket is just intended to get you to a destination, but not back.

Stopover (layover) When you are traveling a long distance, there is often a stop at an international destination that is on the way to your final destination, and is called stopover or a layover.

Travel agency A travel agency is a physical office which offers a service that advises on deals, searches for the right fare on the date you need to travel, books and issues the ticket (these days that is an e-ticket send to your email address.

Visa A visa is a special document that embassy or consulate of the country you are entering issues before you travel.  It states the purpose of your visit to that country and allows you to enter for that purpose only. I have a student visa that allows me to study in the U.S.A.

Airport terms are some of the first English words and phrases you need to learn as an international student in the USA. Become familiar with these airport terms. Many airports around the world use English as well as their native language, so these words will help you on your global travels too!

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“If grammar is the skeleton of expression and usage the flesh and blood, then style is the personality.” ―on style and usage - Arthur Plotnik, Elements of ExpressionThere is more than one way to say hello! It's good to know the social context in which you can use them. Listen for these and other ways to say hello in your daily life.