German Language Blog

Navigating A German Airport Posted by on Oct 26, 2016 in Holidays, Language

Guten Tag! It occurred to me when deciding what to write about next that there is yet to be a post about how to navigate an airport in German. Personally, I find airports extremely stressful – and that’s without the language barriers one might encounter there. I know I’m not the only one who feels this way, so I’m writing this post in the hope that it’ll reduce the stress of going to an airport in a German-speaking country – and that it will also prove useful in any non-German speaking country that uses German at its airports.



Flughafen – Airport. Photo by skohlmann on under a CC license (CC BY-SA 2.0)

The basics

Airport – der Flughafen

Airline – die Fluggesellschaft

Plane – das Flugzeug

Flight – der Flug

Flight number – die Flugnummer

Luggage – das Gepäck

Hand luggage – das Handgepäck

Ticket/Boarding card – der Flugschein/die Bordkarte

Passport – der Ausweis/der Reisepass

Visa – das Visum

Pilot – der Pilot

Flight attendant – der Flugbegleiter (m) / die Flugbegleiterin (f)


Nagivating an airport

When you think about it, you navigate an airport by a series of words only: ‘Terminal’ – ‘Departures’ – ‘Delayed’. That’s good news if you’re not too familiar with the language of the country you’re visiting. Follow these words and you’ll get to where you want to be. Here they are in German. I’ve written them as you might see them signposted at the airport (no genders).

Tip: Print this list out and take it with you to the airport for easy reference – and a bit of extra language revision! 🙂


Ankunft | Arrivals

You’ll often see the English word with the German word at German airports – but that’s no reason not to learn the German! It also makes for a good revision session while you wait for your plane. 😉 Photo by onnola on under a CC license (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Terminal – TERMINAL

Gate – GATE (‘FLUGSTEIG’ is the German word, but the English ‘GATE’ is used more frequently)

Arrivals – ANKUNFT

Departures – ABFLUG

Destination – ZIEL

Check-in – CHECK-IN

Check-in desk – CHECK-IN SCHALTER


Passport control – PASSKONTROLLE

Baggage drop – GEPÄCKANNAHME


Duty free – ZOLLFREI

Priority – PRIORITÄT


For the following, you’ll often see the English words instead of the German. But just in case, here are the German words, too. You’ll also see these same words (with the exception of ‘landed’ and ‘boarding’) at train stations, where the English may NOT be used, and of course you’ll see these words if you check the German airport’s website for your flight status.



Expected – ERWARTET (sometimes shortened to ERW.)


Boarding – BOARDING



Photo by kaeffchen_heinz on under a CC license (CC BY-SA 2.0)


Nothing to declare – NICHTS ZU VERZOLLEN

Border control – GRENZKONTROLLE

Baggage claim – GEPÄCKAUSGABE

Connecting flights – ANSCHLUSSFLÜGE


Emergency exit – NOTAUSGANG

Currency exchange – GELDWECHSEL

Car rental – MIETWAGEN

Taxis & buses – TAXI – BUSSE


Hope this has been useful. In part 2 we’ll be on the plane itself (!), and I’ll go over some of the phrases you may hear and use, and the terminology for things you find on a plane.

Bis dann!

Constanze x

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About the Author: Constanze

Servus! I'm Constanze and I live in the UK. I'm half English and half German, and have been writing about German language and culture on this blog since 2014. I am also a fitness instructor & personal trainer.


  1. Doris:

    Thank you for your keeping me updated on my German.
    I lived in Germany only 11 yrs, so missed out on adult German.


  2. helen:

    thx for the interesting info. I just wonder why 3 words used for cancellation? If they abbreviate erwartet (erw) do they shorten any other ones?

    • Constanze:

      @helen I don’t know why there are 3 words, haha, but quite simply, I’ve seen all three used before. So I thought it would be useful to include them all. Similarly, I’ve seen ‘erw’ for ‘erwartet’ a lot, but none of the others abbreviated! I think it’s because ‘erwartet’ or ‘erw’ is written at the top of the flight information board, not in the flight details section. Hope that helps. 🙂