Chinese Language Blog

Chinese Lesson – On the Plane Posted by on Apr 20, 2017 in Vocabulary

It’s been a long journey so far learning Chinese related to air travel. We picked up some air travel vocabulary, booked a flight, and used Chinese at the airport. Finally, it’s time to board the plane and take the flight. Today’s Chinese lesson is about being on the plane.

Boarding the Flight

While you’re waiting, you’ll want to listen for an announcement. It might sound something like this:

nǚ shì men, xiān shēng men, wǒ men de háng bān zhèng zài dēng jī
Ladies and gentlemen, our flight is boarding.

They usually board first class (头等舱 – tóu děng cāng) and then business class (公务舱 – gōng wù cāng), so you can relax for a minute if you’re back in economy (经济舱 – jīng jì cāng). Get on the plane and see if you have a window seat (靠窗口的座位 – kào chuāng kǒu de zuò wèi) or an aisle seat (靠走廊的座位 – kào zǒu láng de zuò wèi). Hopefully you don’t have a middle seat (中间座位 – zhōng jiān zuò wèi) between the crying baby and the snoring guy. If you need some help, one of the flight attendants (飞行服务员 – fēi xíng fú wù yuán) can guide you to your seat. Just don’t try to go in the cockpit (驾驶舱 – jià shǐ cāng) – the pilot (飞行员 – fēi xíng yuán) wouldn’t be too happy. Store your carry-on luggage (随身行李 – suí shēn háng li) in the overhead compartment (座位上方行李箱 – zuò wèi shàng fāng xíng lǐ xiāng) and take your seat.


Image by Mark Harkin from

Make sure you buckle your seatbelt (安全带 – ān quán dài) and have your seat and tray table (餐桌 – cān zhuō) in the upright position. Listen to the announcement so you know where to find the emergency exits (紧急出口 – jǐn jí chū kǒu), as well as your life jacket (救生衣 – jiù shēng yī) and oxygen mask (氧气面罩 – yǎng qì miàn zhào). You’ll know that you’re ready to take off when you hear an announcement such as:

nǚ shēng men, xiān shēng men, wǒ men de fēi jī kuài yào qǐ fēi
Ladies and gentlemen, our plane is about to take off.

Look out the window and watch the city disappear as you make your way into the clouds.

In the Air

Image by Matt@PEK from

Once you get to a cruising altitude, the flight attendants will usually come around with drinks. Here’s a sample conversation about ordering drinks on the flight:

nǐ xiǎng hē shén me
What would you like to drink?

yǒu guǒ zhī ma
Do you have juice?

yǒu de, yǒu píng guǒ, pú táo hé chéng zhī
Yes, we have apple, grape and orange juice.

wǒ xiǎng chéng zhī
I’d like orange juice.

nǐ yào yī xiē huā shēng ma
Would you like some peanuts?

yào de, xiè xiè
Yes I would, thanks.

bù yòng xiè
You’re welcome.

On longer flights, you’ll even get a full meal. On Chinese flights, expect a choice of rice (米饭 – mǐ fàn) or noodles (面条 – miàn tiáo). Hopefully you have a smooth flight, but sometimes you have to deal with a bit of turbulence (湍流 – tuān liú). In case you start to feel sick, make sure you know where to find your air sickness bag (晕机呕吐袋 – yùn jī ǒu tù dài). You can watch a movie (看电影 – kàn diàn yǐng), read a book (看书 – kàn shū), listen to music (听音乐 – tīng yīn yuè), or just sleep (睡觉 – shuì jiào).

If you need something on the flight, just buzz the flight attendant and ask:

可以给我… 吗?
kě yǐ gěi wǒ… ma
Can you give me a/an…?

Here are some things you might ask for on the flight:

  • a blanket (毯子 – tǎn zi)

  • a pillow (枕头 – zhěn tou)

  • a glass of water (一杯水 – yī bēi shuǐ)

  • a headset (耳机 – ěr jī)

  • a newspaper (报纸 – bào zhǐ)

Now you should be all set for the flight. When it comes time to land, you’ll hear:

wǒ men de háng bān mǎ shàng zhuó lù
Our flight is landing soon.


You’ve finally made it to your destination! Your journey of traveling in Chinese isn’t quite over yet, though. You’ve still got to get your bags, go through customs if it was an international flight, and find transportation to your hotel. We’ll cover all of those things in the final post in the series.

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About the Author: sasha

Sasha is an English teacher, writer, photographer, and videographer from the great state of Michigan. Upon graduating from Michigan State University, he moved to China and spent 5+ years living, working, studying, and traveling there. He also studied Indonesian Language & Culture in Bali for a year. He and his wife run the travel blog Grateful Gypsies, and they're currently trying the digital nomad lifestyle across Latin America.

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