In the 21st century, going to an airport is a common experience for many millions of people. As such, it is useful to know lots of words and phrases to talk about these places. It is also helpful for IELTS candidates because occasionally airports are mentioned.  

If you prefer to learn through a video, then you can look at this one I made last year:

Parts of an Airport

Let’s begin by looking at the different parts of an airport. We’ll start with the exterior.

Airport Exterior Vocabulary

In this cartoon image, we can see some key parts of an airport:

Terminal buildingThe main airport building with departures and arrivals areas.
Control towerA place where people communicate with pilots to ensure that planes can arrive and depart safely.
RunwayA long stretch of tarmac for planes to land or take off.

These are features of almost every airport in the world.

I used two verbs when talking about runways:

LandThe action of a plane coming down out of the sky and safely coming to a stop on the ground.
Take offThe action of a plane moving from the ground up into the sky.

Those verbs are extremely important if you want to talk about airports or airplanes. Another useful word is “taxi.” This means the process of a plane moving from the terminal to the runway.

Here are some more features from outside an airport:

HangarA building that stores airplanes. These might be under construction, under repair, or just kept out of the weather.
TaxiwayThis is the place where planes move slowly from the terminal to the runway and vice versa. It is sort of like a road for planes.

Airport Interior Vocabulary

Baggage drop-off counterThis is where you take your bags if you have checked in online.
Baggage pick-up areaThis is a place where you collect your bags after arriving at an airport. They will come out on a baggage carousel.
Boarding passA document you receive in order to fly. This will contain your seat number, gate details, and destination.
Checked-in luggageThis is your luggage (i.e. bags and suitcases) that you hand over to be stored in the underside of an airplane.
Check-in desk/counterThe place where you go to get your boarding pass and check in your luggage.
Carry-on luggageThis refers to bags that you can take onto the plane with you.
ConcourseDifferent terminals have different shapes. A concourse would be a part of a terminal – usually an arm stretching out with many gates attached to it.
Duty-free shopsThese shops sell certain items, such as alcohol and cigarettes, without the usual tax restrictions.
GateThis is where you board the airplane.
JetwayA bridge through which you walk to go from the terminal to your airplane. This may also be called a “sky bridge.”
LoungesThese are places in an airport where you can rest or enjoy certain perks. You usually need a membership to enter.
PassportA document you need in order to fly to another country.
Security checkA place where you have to go through certain screening procedures, such as walking through an X-ray machine and having your bags scanned or searched.


There are also many verbs we might use at an airport. I have mentioned some above:

BoardTo get on an airplane
Check inTo give documents in exchange for a boarding pass
DisembarkTo get off an airplane