Resources: Notes on Life and Language in the United States

Airport English! How to Succeed During Your First Hour in the US

Posted by Lindsay McMahon on Sat, Nov 23, 2013 @ 09:19 AM

airport English  phrases to use when you arrive in the USHow does it feel when you first step off the plane in a new country with a new language?

Are you planning to move to the US sometime soon? Or perhaps you are planning a business trip to the US?

Regardless of how long you plan to stay here, I am guessing that you are going to have to arrive by plane!

When you step off the plane, it could be a little bit shocking.

Within hours, you go from the comfort of hearing your native language and understanding everything to walking off the plane and hearing English, reading signs in English, and needing to speak in English!

Wow, that can be intense!

It was intense for me when I moved to Japan.

In today's article I will give you some phrases that will help you during that first hour in the airport. Keep reading for success in the airport!




English airport asking for bathroomHow to Find the Bathrooms/Restrooms:


  • "Excuse me, do you know where the restrooms are?"


  • "Hi, is there a bathroom around here by any chance?"


  • "Could you please tell me where the restroom is?"


  • "Do you have any idea where the restroom is?"


Quick vocabulary note- "bathroom" is more casual than "restroom" but both are acceptable. If you say "restroom" it is slightly more polite.




What to Say at the Baggage Claim:

  •  baggage claim, communicate in English"Where can I pick up my bags?"


  • "Sorry, where is the baggage claim area?"


  • "Can you tell me which belt is for American Airlines flight 143 from Tokyo?"


  • "Excuse me- I have been waiting here for half an hour and my bags haven't come out yet. What do you think I should do?"


  • "Hi, that's my bag. Would you mind grabbing it for me?"


  • "Hi, my bags never arrived on Flight 143. What should I do?"




How to Communicate at Customs and Immigration:


English for the airport  customsQuestion: "What is the purpose of your visit?"

Answer: "I'm here for a business trip." or "I'm here to study." or "I'm here for a quick trip to see the city."


Question: "How long do you plan to stay?"

Answer: "I'll be here until November 25th." or "I am staying for two weeks."





How to Find Transportation:


  • airport taxi NYC"Excuse me, what is the best way to get to downtown Manhattan?"


  • "Do you know where I can get the subway/T/metro?" (note: NYC= subway, Washington DC= metro, Boston= T)


  • "Is there a hotel shuttle for the Marriot?"


  • "Where can I hail a cab?" (note- to "hail" a cab means to try to get a cab to stop and pick you up.)


  • "Is there a flat fare to midtown from the aiport?" (note- flat= set fair that is the same every time)


  • "Is the tip included in the fare?"



I hope this lesson makes your first few hours in the US much easier!


If you want to practice these phrases with a native speaker or learn more about what you should do in the airport when you first arrive, please click the button below to get a free trial conversation session. See ya soon!








Photo credits: Nicola since 1972, Debs, sugree, CBP Photography, c_pichler

Topics: English Lessons, United States Culture, Expatriate Support

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