By Kenneth Beare
If you are traveling and need to visit an airport, you can expect polite questions when checking in, going through customs, and boarding a plane. You should always remember to be polite especially when speaking to customs officials and security officers. Knowing the socially appropriate things to say will help you speed through the check-in and boarding process.
To prepare for your trip to the airport, study vocabulary related to travel and practice these basic English dialogues with a partner.
Important Questions at Check-In
Expect these questions when checking in at an airport. Before practicing the dialogue below, familiarize yourself with the terminology and phrasing of these questions.
Can I have your ticket, please?
May I see your passport, please?
Would you like a window or an aisle seat?
Do you have any baggage?
What is your final destination?
Would you like to upgrade to business or first class?
Do you need any help getting to the gate?
Check-In Practice Dialogue
The following dialogue between a passenger service agent and a passenger is fairly typical of a discussion you might encounter at an airport. Take one of the roles, find a friend or a fellow student to take the other role, practice the dialogue, and switch roles.
Passenger service agent: Good morning. Can I have your ticket, please? Passenger: Here you are. Passenger service agent: Would you like a window or an aisle seat? Passenger: An aisle seat, please. Passenger service agent: Do you have any baggage? Passenger: Yes, this suitcase and this carry-on bag. Passenger service agent: Here's your boarding pass. Have a nice flight. Passenger: Thank you.
Going through Security
After you've checked in, you'll need to go through airport security. It's important to follow instructions carefully and understand these requests:
Please step through the scanner. > Asked when you are passing through metal detectors at the airport.
Please step to the side. > Asked if a security officer needs to question you further.
Please raise your arms to the side. > Asked when you are inside a scanner.
Empty your pockets, please.
Please take off your shoes and belt.
Please take any electronic devices out of your bag.
Security Practice Dialogue
Things move quickly at an airport once you reach the security checkpoint. Use this dialogue practice to help you speed through the process.
Security officer: Next! Passenger: Here's my ticket. Security officer: Please step through the scanner. Passenger: (beep, beep, beep) What's wrong? Security officer: Please step to the side. Passenger: Certainly. Security officer: Do you have any coins in your pocket? Passenger: No, but I have some keys. Security officer: Ah, that's the problem. Put your keys in this bin and walk through the scanner again. Passenger: OK. Security officer: Excellent. No problem. Remember to unload your pockets before you go through security next time. Passenger: I'll do that. Thank you. Security officer: Have a nice day.
Passport Control and Customs
If you take an international flight, you'll have to pass through passport control and customs. Here are some of the most common questions you can expect:
Can I see your passport?
Are you a tourist or here on business? > Asked at customs to determine the purpose of your visit.
Do you have anything to declare? > Sometimes people need to declare things they have bought in other countries.
Have you brought any food into the country? > Some countries do not allow certain foods to be brought into the country.
Passport Control and Customs Dialogues You may have different experiences at the passport-control and customs sections depending on the laws of the country you are visiting as well as the type of items you are bringing in.
Passport official: Good morning. Can I see your passport? Passenger: Here you are. Passport official: Thank you very much. Are you a tourist or here on business? Passenger: I'm a tourist. Passport official: That's fine. Have a pleasant stay. Passenger: Thank you.Customs official: Good morning. Do you have anything to declare? Passenger: I'm not sure. I have two bottles of whiskey. Do I need to declare that? Customs official: No, you can have up to 2 quarts. Passenger: Great. Customs official: Have you brought any food into the country? Passenger: Just some cheese I bought in France. Customs official: I'm afraid I'll have to take that. Passenger: Why? It's just some cheese. Customs official: Unfortunately, you are not allowed to bring cheese into the country. I'm sorry. Passenger: OK. Here you are. Customs official: Thank you. Anything else? Passenger: I bought a T-shirt for my daughter. Customs official: That's fine. Have a nice day. Passenger: You, too.