Have you ever felt lost in an airport and not known what to say to get help? Airports can be confusing and stressful places. Knowing key English phrases that can be used or heard in an airport, however, can help make your trip more easy and relaxed.

Below we've collected essential airport phrases just for you! You'll learn what to say at check-in, what to listen for at security, and much more. Take a look at the tables below and get prepared for the next time you head to the airport!

Checking in at the Airport

When you arrive at an airport, the first thing you will most likely do are check in and get your boarding pass. Below you'll find phrases that can help you do this.
Where is the check-in desk?
 
I would like to check in.
 
Please be at the gate 45 minutes before departure.
 
Do you have a checked bag or just carry-on luggage?
 
I have one carry-on and two checked bags.
 
Can I see your passport?
 
Can I see your boarding pass?
 
Your flight is boarding at 7:15.
 
Your flight leaves from gate F12.
 
The flight has been delayed for one hour.
 
Take off is in three hours.
 
Paging all passengers on flight QUE382 to Toronto. Your flight is now boarding at gate Z15.
 
 
Please be at the gate 45 minutes before departure
The key words in this phrase are departure and gate. Make sure that you also know your departure time! If you don't, then you'll probably miss your flight. A word that means the same thing as departure is take off. In response to our example sentence, you could say: Thank you, I will head there now.
Paging all passengers on flight QUE382 to Toronto. Your flight is now boarding at gate Z15
This is an example of a sentence that you might hear right before you start boarding the plane. It is meant to get the attention of all passengers on a specific flight, in this case flight QUE382 to Toronto. The most important information is in the second sentence. This information is that the flight is now boarding at a specific gate, here Z15. For example, if you were taking this flight, you would know to either prepare to board or to head to the gate as quickly as possible so that you don't miss your flight. In response to hearing this sentence you might say to a fellow traveler something like this: We better get ready to board now.

Going through Security

After checking in, you will most likely head to security next. This is often the most stressful part of going through an airport. You won't have to talk much at security, but instead will have to pay close attention to what is being said to you. Below are the most important phrases to listen for.
We need to go through the security check before we can board.
 
Empty your pockets, please.
 
Put all electronics in a separate bin.
 
Have your passport out and ready.
 
Step through the scanner, please.
 
I need to search your bag.
 
What do you have in your bag?
 
Please hold still.
 
 
Empty your pockets, please
When going through airport security it is important to make sure you don't forget anything in your pockets before going through any scanners. Security will usually remind you of this by saying this sentence. If they ask if you have anything more in your pockets, and you are sure that you have emptied them, you could say something like this: I don't have anything more in my pockets.
I need to search your bag
Sometimes security will need to look through one of your bags. Don't worry, remain calm, and just answer any questions they might have. In response to this sentence, you could say something like: Sure, no problem.

Landing at Your Destination

Once you've landed at your destination, you'll still have a few final stops including baggage claim, passport control, and customs. The phrases below will help you get through these final stages of your journey.
What is the purpose of your stay?
 
I'm here on vacation.
 
How long are you staying here?
 
Have you been here before?
 
Where is baggage claim?
 
Your baggage has been lost.
 
We landed at 8:15.
 
We need to go through customs before we can leave the airport.
 
Do you have anything to declare?
 
I only bought small souvenirs for my family.
 
Do you have any duty-free items in your luggage?
 
May I search your bag?
 
 
What is the purpose of your stay?
This is a sentence that you would most likely hear at passport control. This is similar to a security check that you need to go through before you can enter the country or place that you just landed in. At this check, however, the police officers will only check your passport and ask you questions, such as this. You could answer many different ways, depending on why you have traveled there. For example, you could say something like: I'm visiting friends, I am here for business, or I'm on vacation.
Where is baggage claim?
After your flight has landed, you need to go to baggage claim to pick up any checked bags you have. If you are unsure where this is you can ask an employee the question above. They will most likely guide you there, or say something like this: If you follow the signs on the walls, they will take you there. If you can't find your luggage after arriving at baggage claim, you can go to a help desk and ask for help.
Do you have anything to declare?
When you land at your destination, you might have to go through customs. If that happens, you will most likely hear this question. It is asking whether you are carrying any special items with you from the place that your flight came from. In most cases you could probably just respond with: I just have some small souvenirs with me.

Answers to the Most Common Questions

What are the most essential English phrases that I need to know at an airport?
  • Can I see your passport?
  • Can I see your boarding pass?
  • What is the purpose of your stay?
  • Please be at the gate 45 minutes before departure.
  • Your flight leaves from gate F12.
  • Empty your pockets, please.
  • What do you have in your bag?
What's the most important thing to have when I go to the airport?
The two most important things to have with you when you are at an airport are your passport and boarding pass. Without them you won't be able to board your plane! Other than these two things, you will probably want to take some luggage with you to your destination. Make sure you weigh it first! It can also be important to have patience and a good book!
What is the most important thing to do at security?
Going through security checks at airports is always a stressful experience, but once you get through you'll be able to relax before your flight. While going through security the most important things to do are to (1) listen to the commands and questions of the police officers and (2) stay calm. Don't worry, security can be intimidating, but just imagine the adventures that await you on the other side of security!
What do I need to do once I arrive at my destination?
If traveling internationally, you'll still need to go through a few more stations at the airport once you finally land at your destination before you're finally free. The first thing you'll have to do is go to baggage claim to pick up your luggage. If you can't find your luggage, then look for airport employees to ask for help. Once you have your luggage, you can then head to the border check where officers will check your passport. Afterwards, your last stop will be customs. There officers will usually ask what kind of items you are bringing with you. Once finished at customs, you are free to leave the airport!