Airport Travel I – 34 Essential Words

I think every airport I’ve ever been to has had signs in English, and the people at the information desk have spoken English. I don’t know if this is true in every country, but it is true in every country I’ve been to. No matter what language is locally spoken, it seems you can get by with English in an airport. If you happen to be traveling in a foreign country, this post (and the following two posts) will help. Here are 34 English words that you really should know when you fly internationally.

  1.  Luggage: all of your suitcases and bags. Also called: baggage.
  2. Suitcase: a large bag in which clothes are packed for travel.
  3. Restrooms: Men’s and Women’s rooms. WC. Toilets. Bathrooms.
  4. Gate: a portal at an airport where you move from the airport to the actual aircraft. The gate for your flight might be listed on your boarding pass or on the information screens.
  5. Arrivals: the section of the airport where passengers get off airplanes and leave the airport.
  6. Departures: the section of the airport where passengers enter the airport to get on airplanes.
  7. Overhead compartment: the rack above your head on an airplane where you can put a carry-on bag.
  8. Tray table: the shelf attached to the seat in front of you (it may also be attached to your armrest) that folds down for you to use as a surface. Often used for meals or drinks.
  9. Seatbelt: a belt that holds you in your seat for safety purposes.

  10. Ground transportation: Vehicles on the ground that take you away from the airport such as buses, taxis and rental cars.
  11. Checked bag: a bag or suitcase that is checked into the airline. The airline stores your checked bag in the cargo compartment of the airplane, and you retrieve it after the flight lands.
  12. Carousel, baggage carousel: the circular moving track on which your suitcase is returned to you after the plane lands.
  13. Passenger: someone who rides a plane that is not a member of the crew.
  14. Passport: an international ID. It usually looks like a small book. It contains your photo, personal information, and space for customs and immigration personnel to stamp.
  15. Visa: a document or stamp in your passport that gives permission to enter a foreign country.
  16. Identification, ID: documents that prove your identity – who you are. Identification could be a passport, a drivers license, or some other form of proof of identity. Sometimes called a photo ID.
  17. Boarding pass: a ticket that shows your seat on an airplane as a passenger.
  18. Chicken or pasta: this is often what a flight attendant could ask you on a western flight when they ask you what you want to eat.. I ALWAYS get the chicken. My wife always asks for the pasta and is disappointed.
  19. Emergency Exit: a way out intended to be used during a crisis. The flight attendants will point them out to you before a flight takes off. Hopefully you will never have to use one.
  20. Exit row: one of the rows of seats in the center of an airplane.  There are Emergency Exits in these rows. The bad part is in case of an emergency, you must release the door so everyone can get out. The good part is there is extra leg room if you are tall like me.
  21. Life vest: An inflatable device that is attached to your upper body intended to keep you from sinking in the water. Find out where yours is before the flight takes off, and if you need to use it, don’t inflate it before you get out.
  22. Emergency slide: an inflatable device that comes out of the airplane when the emergency exits are needed. To exit the plane you jump on it and slide to the ground.
  23. Emergency raft: an inflatable boat. If the plane lands in water, the plane will have these little life boats for survivors.
  24. Oxygen mask: a device that drops from above your head in an airplane when the air pressure in the airplane drops. You might need this in order to breath.
  25. Fasten seat belt sign: a sign that indicates you MUST wear your seat belt.

    Fasten Seat Belt sign.
  26. Board, boarding: to get on an airplane. Wouldn’t it be easier if they said, “It’s time to get on the airplane?”
  27. Last call: The very last announcement they make before they close the gate and shut the door on the airplane. If you miss the last call, you will not get on your airplane.
  28. Remain seated: Stay in your seat. If the flight attendant says this, don’t get up until the Fasten Seat Belt sign is turned off.
  29. No smoking: cigarettes, cigars, e-cigarettes, pipes, other such amusements may not be used.
  30. Complete stop: when the airplane actually stops moving and powers down at the gate.
  31. Safety regulations: rules specified by the government in regards to safety.
  32. Terminal: the airport building.
  33. Take off: when an airplane is rolling down the runway and then starts flight.
  34. Land: when an airplane is in flight, and then touches down on the runway and slows.

Did you know all of these words already? If not, I think they are very important for travel. The next post will have more air travel vocabulary that you should learn once you have this list down.

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