Leaving On A Jet Plane? French Airport Vocabulary

Many of us have had to spread our wings a little further over the past few years to find suitable flights back to the UK.. This year, Covid 2021, travel has to be thoughtful and cautious., but travellers are slowly heading back towards the airports.

If you’re lucky, once you get to the airport, there isn’t really that much to say: hand over your boarding pass, your vaccination passport and negative test (How similar is this to taking a dog abroad?) glide through security (if you’re not wearing an underwired bra), and settle down with a large G&T to await take-off.

However, sometimes it doesn’t all run quite so smoothly, particularly in winter, and it’s useful to have a bit of local lingo to find out what’s going on.

The Airport

Airline – une compagnie aérienne

Terminal – une aérogare

Departures – les départs

Arrivals – les arrivées

Check-in – l’enregistrement

Boarding – l’embarquement

Duty-free – la boutique hors taxes

Security check – contrôle de sécurité

Gate – une porte (d’embarquement)

Runway – la piste

Some verbs

To take-off/a take-off – décoller/un décollage

To land/a landing – atterrir/ un atterrissage

To board – embarquer

To disembark – débarquer

To check in luggage – enregistrer (les bagages)

You might be asked about….

Plane ticket – le billet d’avion

Boarding pass – la carte d’embarquement

Hand luggage – baggage à main


Air-traffic controller – contrôleurs aériens

Baggage handler – un bagagiste

Crew – L’équipage

Pilot– pilote

Flight attendants – hôtesses/stewards

Your flight might be….

A l’heure – on time

Retardé – delayed

Annulé – cancelled

Arrivé – arrived

Atterri – landed

You might also need…

An aisle seat – un siège (du côté) couloir

A window seat – Un siège (du côté) hublot

A shuttle – une navette

A stopover – une escale

A table tray – la tablette

Useful phrases

Combien de temps dure le vol?

How long is the flight?

J’ai seulement un bagage à main

I just have one piece of hand luggage.

Le vol a combien de retard?

How much is the flight delayed?

Pourquoi le vol est-il annulé/retardé?

Why is the flight cancelled/delayed?

Real Conversation recorded between and Air France pilot (not on strike for once!) and the control tower. (Flight number changed to protect the innocent!)

Pilote: Air France 1234 “On souhaiterait monter au niveau 330”.
Contrôleur: Air France 1234  “Maintenez 290 cause bruit.”
Pilote: “Ah bon? Pourquoi cause bruit?”
Contrôleur : “Parce que si vous montez et que vous encadrez l’avion qui est au-dessus de vous au 310, ça va faire beaucoup de bruit et les riverains ne vont pas aimer…”

on souhaiterait – we wish to
niveau- level
maintenez – maintain
encadrez – smash into
au-dessus – above
riverains – residents

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