Even though airports are usually international in nature and offer information in English, being able to navigate your way through an airport in Chinese-speaking areas is still very useful.
This post deals with useful sentences for going to the airport. You can also find more general travel vocabulary here.
Getting to the airport
There are many ways of getting to the airport, and here are some common modes of transport:
jīchǎng kuài guǐ
When telling the driver the destination or when checking the bus or train timetable, make sure you go to the right terminal, 航站楼(hángzhànlóu). In Chinese, you put the number of the terminal before the word "terminal", so terminal three is: 三号航站楼(sānhào hángzhàn). Here's an example of what you can say:
I want to go to the airport, terminal 3.
wǒ xiǎng qù sān hào hángzhànlóu.
At the airport
Once you get to the airport you need to check-in, go through the security check, find your gate and board the plane. Here are some useful phrases:
Excuse me, where is the check-in desk for Air China?
qǐngwèn yīxià, Guóháng bànlǐ dēngjīshǒuxù de guìtái zài nǎr？
Can I see your passport please?
máfan chūshì yíxià hùzhào 。
We're sorry, but your check-in luggage is overweight.
hěn bàoqiàn, nǐde tuōyùn xínglǐ chāozhòng.
Make sure there are no prohibited items in your bag.
qǐng quèrèn nǐde xínglizhōng méiyǒu wéijìn wùpǐn.
Excuse me, I can't find my gate. Can you help me?
kěyǐ máfan nín bāng wǒ yíxià ma, wǒ zhǎobudào wǒde dēngjīkǒu.
The gate will be closed 30 minutes before departure.
dēngjīkǒu jiāng zài qǐfēi qián 30 fēnzhōng guānbì.
English mixed with Chinese
Even though there are Chinese words that cover all kinds of airport vocabulary, it's important to know that the Chinese don't necessarily use them. For instance, the word "check-in" is very common in China. This is much more common than the 办理登机手续 included in the sentence above. The same is true for "terminal", which is more often called just "T" followed by the number of the terminal. Thus, the first example sentence is more likely to be said as 我想去T3.