Introduction:

Nowadays, millions of people travel each year to other countries either on business (to attend a meeting, work temporarily with foreign colleagues or clients etc...) or for their holidays. For most people, the only option for going on these foreign trips is to travel by air/plane.

Talking about the journey on the plane is a very common topic of conversation (small talk) when meeting/talking with foreign business clients or colleagues in English, or even talking to a stranger in the airport. So it is important that you know the vocabulary to use to talk about travelling by plane. And this is what you'll learn here.

In this first of two online exercises, you'll learn and remember the most commonly used vocabulary and phrases in English for talking about travelling by air/plane and the problems that can happen.

After you have done this first part of the exercise, I recommend that you do the second part of the exercise to learn more vocabulary connected to travelling by plane

Click here to see more of our free online exercises on travel & hotel vocabulary


Exercise: Conversation about a plane journey

Read the following conversation between two colleagues (Pierre from Paris and Simon from Madrid) before a meeting about Pierre's journey to the meeting.

From the context, try to guess what the meaning of the words/phrases in bold are. Then do the quiz at the end to check if you are right.

Simon:'So Pierre, how was your flight? It takes about 2 hours to travel by plane from Paris to Madrid?'

Pierre:'Normally, the journey is about that. This morning the flight was ok. The plane was scheduled to leave at 7.30am, but it didn't take off until 7.50am. So the flight was delayed from leaving the airport by 20 minutes, which isn't really bad.'

Simon:'Last week I had to fly to Rome for the day. Unfortunately, the return flight back was cancelled.'

Pierre:'Was it because there was fog at the airport. Planes don't leave or arrive if the pilots can't see because there are clouds on the ground.'

Simon:'No, it wasn't because of the weather conditions. The pilots and aircrew had decided to suddenly go on strike because they weren't happy with the pay increase they had received. So I had to book a new flight for the next day with a different airline. So, I had to stay overnight in Rome, in a hotel close to the airport.'

Pierre:'My god.'

Simon:'Were there many people on the flight this morning?'

Pierre:'Yes, there were. The plane was packed this morning. There were no free seats. It was strange because when I normally fly early in the morning, the flights are half-empty, so you have a seat to leave your things on. There was also a long queue to go through the security check. It normally takes 10 minutes to go through the security check, but this morning it took 30 minutes. So, by the time I arrived at the gate, the flight was already boarding. I was one of the last to get onto the plane. And as I said, the plane was full and there was no space left in the overhead locker to put my bag in. So I had to put it under my seat.'

Simon:'Wasn't there an international tourism conference in Paris that finished yesterday?'

Pierre:'That explains why there were a lot of people.'


What next

Well done for reading the text and learning the meaning of each of the words/phrase in bold. If you don't want to forgot what they mean and want to be able to say them correctly, I'd like you to do one more thing which won't take you long.

Answer the questions in the below quiz with the travelling by plane vocabulary you've just learnt. Doing this will make sure that you both remember what they mean and that you'll use them in the future.



Quiz:

Below is a definition/description of each of the words/phrases in bold from the above text. Now fill in the blanks with one of these words/phrases in bold. Only use one word/phrase once and write it as it is in the text. Click on the "Check Answers" button at the bottom of the quiz to check your answers.

When the answer is correct, two icons will appear next to the question. The first is an Additional Information Icon "". Click on this for extra information on the word/phrase and for a translation. The second is a Pronunciation Icon "". Click on this to listen to the pronunciation of the word/phrase and to do a pronunciation speaking test.

1. A different way to say 'reserve' a seat on a plane/flight, is    

         

Book:
(verb) The infinitive is 'to book'. This is a commonly used verb that means 'to reserve' a seat on a flight, train or ship, or 'to buy' a ticket for a flight etc...(both mean the same thing). 'to book' is also used with the same meaning (reserve) for hotel rooms, a meeting room in an office or a table in a restaurant. The verb must always be followed by the object (e.g. table, flight/seat, room, it). For example, 'I've just booked the flight'. In Spanish: "reservar".

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Book:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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2. Another way to say 'get on' a plane, is    

         

Boarding:
(verb) The infinitive is 'to board'. This verb means 'to get on' or 'enter' a plane in an airport, e.g. 'plane 306 to Buenos Aires is currently boarding'. This verb is also used with the same meaning with ships and trains (although it is less commonly used with trains where 'get on' is more common). The place in an airport where you 'board' or 'get on' a plane, is called a 'boarding gate' or more commonly 'gate'. In Spanish: "embarcar".

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Boarding:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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3. A verb that is used to mean the 'planned' or 'arranged' time a plane leaves or arrives, is    

         

Was scheduled:
(verb) The infinitive is 'to be scheduled'. This verb is used when somebody wants to say when (time, day or date) a plane is arranged/planned (from the timetable) to take off or land. 'to be scheduled' is also used to mean the arranged time something will happen for trains, meetings, interviews etc...

It is normally used in the passive ('to be scheduled'), with the noun in front of the verb (e.g. meeting, flight etc...) and the time, day or date with a preposition following it. You can also use an infinitive verb to say what is arranged to happen (e.g. 'to start', 'to land' etc...) between 'to be scheduled' and 'the time', e.g. 'the flight is scheduled to take off at 6pm' In Spanish: "estar previsto".

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Was scheduled:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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4. Another way to say 'full' of people, is    

         

Packed:
(adjective) 'packed' is a very commonly used adjective to mean 'full' of people. It can be used for transport (trains, flights, buses etc...) or for meetings, restaurants, pubs, concerts etc... 'packed' is only used to mean 'full' when talking about the amount of people, e.g. 'the pub was packed, there was no space available'. In Spanish: "lleno".

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Packed:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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5. A weather condition where clouds are on the ground/land, is called    

         

Fog:
(noun) 'fog' is a type of cloud which is at ground level. It commonly happens in Autumn or Winter and is a common cause of flights being cancelled or delayed (because the pilots can't see the runway to take off or land the plane). When the visibility is very low because of the fog (you can't see very far), it is called 'thick fog'. In Spanish: "niebla".

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Fog:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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6. A journey by plane/air is normally called a    

         

Flight:
(noun) A 'flight' in this context means a journey by plane. It is common for people to ask how the journey/flight was, e.g. 'how was the flight?'. 'flight' can also be used in a few contexts with the meaning of 'plane', e.g. 'when does your flight leave/arrive?'. In Spanish: "vuelo".

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Flight:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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7. A line of people waiting to do something, is called a    

         

Queue:
(noun) A 'queue' is a line of people waiting to do something (e.g. buy food, check in bags, get on a plane etc...). In English-speaking countries 'queuing' is very normal and it is not acceptable to 'queue jump' which means to go in front of somebody who has been waiting before you. If you do, they will tell you that there is a queue and you have to wait your turn. In Spanish: "cola".

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Queue:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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8. When a plane leaves/arrives later than it is arranged/scheduled to do, it is    

         

Delayed:
(verb) The infinitive is 'to be delayed'. It means something happens later than it is arranged/scheduled to do. This is used not only for flights, but also for meetings, interviews, trains etc... This verb is normally used in the passive 'to be delayed' and is followed by the preposition 'by' and the quantity of time of the delay, e.g. 'the flight is delayed by 35 minutes'. It also has a noun, 'delay'. In Spanish: "retrasarse".

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Delayed:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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9. Another way to say 'half-full', is   

         

Half-empty:
(adjective) 'half-empty' in this context means that around half the seats on a plane/flight are occupied/taken by passengers, e.g. 'the flight's half-empty'. This adjective can also be used with the same meaning for concerts, meetings, trains etc... It has the same meaning as 'half-full'. In Spanish: "medio vacĂ­o".

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Half-empty:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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10. A phrasal verb that means that a plane 'leaves' an airport, is    

         

Take off:
(phrasal verb) The infinitive is 'to take off'. This is a phrasal verb with many different meanings, but in this context it means when a plane 'leaves' an airport, e.g. 'at what time does the flight take off?'. The verb literally means 'to leave the ground'. This is an intransitive phrasal verb (it has no object), e.g. 'the plane took off'. The opposite of 'to take off', is 'to land'. In Spanish: "despegar".

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Take off:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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11. When a group of workers refuse to work because they are not happy with something, is a    

         

Strike:
(noun) A 'strike' in this context is when workers/employees stop/refuse to work because they want something to change at work (e.g. receive a higher wage, stop job cuts/redundancies etc...). It is a common reason why flights are cancelled/not going to fly. 'strike' is also a verb, e.g. 'airline pilots are currently striking'. In Spanish: "huelga".

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Strike:

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12. When on a trip, a person sleeps in a hotel or house for one night, they    

         

Stay overnight:
(phrase) 'to stay overnight' is used when somebody is on a trip to a different city or country and they are going remain/spend the night there, e.g. 'are you going back to Berlin today?' 'no, I'm going to stay overnight and return tomorrow'. If the person is not going to 'stay overnight' and is going to return in the same day, you use 'for the day', e.g. 'I'm only here for the day'. In Spanish: "pasar la noche".

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Stay overnight:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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13. A different way to say that a flight/plane is 'not going to fly', is    

         

Cancelled:
(verb) The infinitive is 'to cancel'. This means that something is not going to happen. It is very commonly used for flights and trains, e.g. 'my flight has been cancelled, I have to find another one'. But it is also used for meetings, interviews, concerts etc... 'to cancel' is different to 'to postpone', which means that something will happen at a different date in the future, e.g. 'the meeting has been postponed until next Thursday'. In Spanish: "cancelar".

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Cancelled:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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14. The place above the seats on a plane where you put your bags, is called an    

         

Overhead locker:
(noun) An 'overhead locker' is the place above the seats on a plane where passengers have to store/put their hand luggage (the bags they carry on to a plane) during the flight. In Spanish: "compartimiento superior".

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Overhead locker:

Pronunciation Speaking Test:
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Practice

Now that you understand the new vocabulary, practise it by creating your own sentences with the new words/phrases.