Essential English for a flight

As we are reaching the Easter break, and airline bookings have reached pre-pandemic levels, it is more than fitting to dedicate a blog to airport vocabulary! Language differences make navigating your way through a foreign airport challenging, but you are in luck. Whichever airport you are in, whether it be Tokyo or Sao Paulo, you only need to know a set of vocabulary in one language, English! Now, it is essential to master airport vocabulary, or you might end up in a place very different to the one planned without any accommodation, so read and learn these set of words well!


A company that provides travel by air is called an airline.

boarding pass

A boarding pass is another word for an airline ticket. It is what passengers must show before boarding a plane.

to book a flight

To book a flight means to reserve your seat on a flight.

non-stop flight

A non-stop flight flies to its final destination without stopping.

direct flight

A direct flight stops before arriving at its final destination, but passengers do not have to change planes.

connecting flight

A connecting flight stops and passengers must change planes.


The term layover refers to the stop at an airport in order for passengers to change planes.

first-class ticket

First class tickets are the most expensive tickets that airlines offer. First class seats are in the front of the plane and are much bigger than the other seats on the plane. Airlines usually offer premium meals to passengers with first class tickets.

business class ticket

Business class tickets are cheaper than first class tickets but more expensive than economy class tickets. Business class tickets have certain benefits that economy class tickets do not, such as larger seats.

economy class ticket/coach ticket

Economy class tickets are the cheapest tickets that airlines offer. Economy class seats are the smallest seats on the plane.


A suitcase is a bag with a handle used for holding clothes or other possessions.


All the suitcases and bags that a traveler has with them on a trip is called luggage.

checked luggage/checked bags

Checked luggage is the luggage a passenger gives to the airline before getting on the plane. These bags are placed in the cargo section of the plane and do not travel in the same section of the plane as the passengers.

carry on bags/carry on luggage

Carry on luggage is the luggage passengers take on the plane with them.

airport tax

An airport tax is a tax paid by passengers for using an airport.

check-in counter

The check-in counter is where passengers go to get their boarding passes and check their bags.


Security is where passengers have their possessions checked before they get on their flight.


An arrival is a flight arriving at the airport.


A departure is a flight leaving the airport.

arrival and departure screen

The arrival and departure screen is a screen which shows the status of flights. It lists flights as on-time, delayed, or cancelled. (The arrival and departure screen is commonly called “the screen.”)


If a flight leaves at its scheduled time, the flight is on time.


If a flight leaves after its scheduled time, the flight is delayed.


If a flight doesn’t leave the airport at all, the flight is cancelled.


The gate is where passengers show their boarding passes and get on the plane.

to board

To board a plane means to get on a plane.

aisle seat

Aisle seats are the seats next to the aisle on the plane. The aisle of the plane is the place between the rows of seats where people walk.

window seat

A window seat is the seat next to the window.

middle seat

A middle seat is the seat between the aisle seat and the window seat.

flight attendant

Flight attendants are airline employees who help the passengers on a flight.


The person who flies the plane is called the pilot.

to take off

When the plane leaves the ground, it takes off.

take off

Take off refers to the moment when a plane leaves the ground.


Turbulence is strong wind that causes an airplane to move and shake.

to land

When a plane arrives at a destination, it lands. To land means to touch the ground.


The place at an airport where non-residents must pass is called Immigration.

immigration officer

An immigration officer is a government official who is responsible for enforcing a country’s immigration law. Immigration officers make sure that the people entering a country are entering legally.

baggage claim

The baggage claim is where passengers go to collect their checked luggage.


Customs is the place at an airport where government officials check the products that are entering the country.

customs officer

A customs officer is a government official who is responsible for checking the products entering the country.

to declare an item

To declare an item means to report the item to customs.

duty-free store

Passengers can purchase products at duty-free stores without paying certain national and local taxes. Many airports offer duty-free shopping.

jet lag

Jet lag is tiredness travelers experience when they travel from one time zone to another.


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