10 Essential travel English expressions for travelling by plane

If you are travelling to an English-speaking country, chances are you will be getting there by plane. That means you will need to know how to talk to the airport staff in English. Talking to airport staff in English isn’t difficult because they are used to hearing English accents from all over the world. However, you will need to know these essential travel English expressions if you want to make yourself understood in English.

Check-in counter

This is where passengers hand in their luggage and collect their boarding passes. It’s sometimes called a check-in desk and the phrasal verb to talk about what you do here is check in.

Boarding pass

This is a card listing the passenger’s name and seat number. You will be given your boarding pass when you check in and you will need to show it at the boarding gate.

Aisle or window seat?

A window seat is next to a window and an aisle seat is next to the central passage in the plane (the aisle). Make sure to let the staff know where  you would prefer to sit when you check in.

aisle window plane

Economy, First or Business class?

A plane has different types of seating: Business class is more expensive and more comfortable than Economy. First class is the most expensive and luxurious seating in the plane.

One-way or round-trip?

You can buy either a one-way (single) or a round-trip (return) ticket. e.g. A one-way economy class ticket to Paris, please.

Domestic and International flights

Domestic flights are within a country, while international flights are between countries. They may leave from different terminals (buildings) of the airport or an airport might only cater for domestic or international flights.

Check-in or carry-on luggage

Check-in luggage is stored in the cargo hold of the plane. Carry-on luggage (also called hand luggage), is taken onto the plane with the passenger.

luggage travel

Please go to boarding gate…

The boarding gate is the part of the airport you go through to get on the plane. You might wait in a boarding lounge before you go through the gate. At the boarding gate, you will need to show your boarding pass.

Arrivals and departures

These are separate areas in the airport where flights arrive at or depart from. You can tell the taxi-driver, “Take me to International Arrivals, please.”

Anything to declare?

You should tell the customs officers if you have items like alcohol and cigarettes or anything that you might need to pay tax on when you bring it into a country. If you don’t have any of these, you can say, “Nothing to declare!”

Now you know what to say next time you travel by plane, all that’s left to do is to enjoy your trip!

An now, learn 8 Airport questions you need to be able to answer in English.