Traveling is one of the most exciting experiences any traveler faces. From the moment we buy our ticket the adventure of traveling begins. In the case of Latin America, where most of the population does not speak English, going from point A to point B will be a much more relaxing experience if you are able to ask some key questions in the Spanish language.
If there’s one moment that’s especially important for any traveler, it’s the airplane landing in another country. That moment when you land in a destination where you don’t speak the language and where most customs are different from those of your country of origin. What is my departure gate? Where do I have to pick up the luggage? What security measures does the country have? How can I claim my rights if something goes wrong?
In Academia Latinoamericana de Español we know how important it is to enter an international trip on the right foot. For this reason, we have prepared a survival guide in Spanish to help you during your stay at airports in Peru, Ecuador or Bolivia, familiarize yourself with the most common terms and expressions in the world of airports and transportation and practice Spanish with us!
Survival guides in Spanish: at the Airport
When you land from the plane, it will be your turn to collect your luggage. Go to the “Sala de recogida de equipajes internacionales” (International Baggage Collection) and wait for your luggage to appear at the screens and perform your “recogida de equipaje” (baggage claim).
If your suitcase disappears, you will have to make a “reclamación” (complaint). It is important that you do not leave the baggage arrival area without first claiming your passport, boarding pass and baggage voucher from airline staff.
Excuse me. My luggage has been lost. What should I do to make a complaint? –
Disculpe. Mi equipaje se ha extraviado. ¿Qué tengo que hacer para presentar una reclamación?
Near the baggage conveyor, you’ll find customs personnel. They will check your luggage and ask you:
Anything to declare? – ¿Algo que declarar?
Only if you carry things like alcohol, cigarettes or anything you need to pay taxes on, you should answer yes:
Yes, I have something to declare – Sí, tengo cosas que declarar
In all other cases you must say:
Nothing to declare! – No tengo nada que declarar
Once the baggage has been collected and the customs control has been passed, it is the turn of the migratory control. It is one of the most important parts, in which your documentation will be checked to verify that you are authorized to enter the country.
The airport staff will ask you to show them your passport and visa (if applicable). In addition, you will probably also have to submit some form of entry to the country, such as the Andean Immigration Card (“Tarjeta Andina de Migración”, TAM), which will have been given to you by the staff of the airline where you have traveled.
Please, could you show me your passport? – Por favor, ¿podría mostrarme su pasaporte?
Of course. This is my passport – Por supuesto. Este es mi pasaporte
Thank you. Could you also show me your visa? – Gracias. ¿Podría mostrarme también su visado?
Sure. Here’s my visa – Por supuesto. Aquí está mi visado
It is likely that, in addition to asking you for documentation, the airport staff will ask you other questions such as:
Where are you traveling from? – ¿Desde dónde viaja?
I travel from… – Yo viajo desde…
What is your nationality? – ¿Cuál es su nacionalidad?
I am American/ Irish /German… – Soy estadounidense / irlandés / alemán…
What’s the purpose of your trip? – ¿Cuál es el motivo de su viaje?
I travel because of studies/ tourism/business – Viajo por estudios / turismo / negocios
How long are you going to be in Peru/Bolivia/Ecuador? – ¿Cuánto tiempo va a estar en el Perú/ Bolivia/ Ecuador?
I’m going to stay 1 year/2 months/7 days – Voy a estar un año/ dos meses/ siete días
Where are you going to be accommodated? – ¿Dónde se va a hospedar?
Buy a ticket
When buying a plane ticket, it is important to know how to differentiate between three types of tickets (one way, return and one way + return). When approaching the airline counter or if you want to buy a ticket by phone you should ask:
I want a one-way ticket to… – Quiero un boleto/ biilete/ pasaje de ida a …
I want a return ticket for… – Quiero un boleto/ biilete/ pasaje de vuelta a …
I want a round-trip ticket for… – Quiero un boleto/ biilete/ pasaje de ida y vuelta a …
Depending on the type of flight, you may be asked if you want it to be a direct flight, which goes from airport A to airport B with the same flight code and without changing planes or with stopovers, intermediate stops where you change planes.
Ask about timetables
If you want to know the time when the plane lands or takes off, you should ask:
What time does the plane arrive? – ¿A qué hora llega el avión?
What time does the plane leave? – ¿A qué hora sale el avión?
Asking for money change
If you intend to take public transport but do not have local currency, it is advisable that you go to a foreign exchange service first. At the airport, you will find exchange boxes in which you will be attended with kindness.
How many U.S. dollars is one sol/boliviano? – ¿Cuántos dólares estadounidenses son un sol/ boliviano?
Could you please change these U.S. dollars into soles/ bolivianos? – Por favor, ¿me podría cambiar estos dólares estadounidenses a soles/ bolivianos?
Did you know?
Since 2000, Ecuador adopted the US Dollar, replacing its old currency sucre.
Other useful phrases at the airport
Which terminal/gate are you looking for? – ¿Qué terminal/puerta de embarque busca usted?
I’m looking for the south terminal/boarding gate B – Busco la terminal sur/puerta de embarque B
The south terminal is for international flights – La terminal sur es para los vuelos internacionales
Where are you headed? – ¿Hacia dónde se dirige?
I’m going to… – Voy a…
Could you please help me with my luggage? – Por favor, ¿me puede ayudar con el equipaje?
Could I see your baggage claim ticket? – ¿Me permite ver su boleto de reclamo de equipaje?
How many bags/suitcases do you have? – ¿Cuántas maletas tiene?