When I go to an airport, the airport announcement announces 'boarding a plane' than 'getting on a plane'.

Because they say in public places all the time, I start to feel 'boarding' is a more formal word than 'getting on'.

Let's say I talk with a friend and the friend asks me what I'm doing.

If I say,

I'm boarding a plane.

Does this make the mood a bit unfriendly?

Instead, do I have to say

I'm getting on a plane.

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    It is both more formal and more normal. Similarly at a function, an announcement might be "we are now serving dinner" rather than the childish "we will now be bringing food to the tables." But over the phone you can say "I am just getting on the plane" or "we are boarding now". Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 12:24
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    Another difference between "boarding" and "getting on" is that you can say "flight 123 is boarding at gate 15". You wouldn't hear "flight 123 is getting on...". Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 12:55
  • @JackO'Flaherty That is very true! Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 13:08
  • Yes, the accurate, technical term is boarding. However, in spoken English, get on a plane is 100% correct.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 16:04

2 Answers 2


The word "boarding" is not reserved for formal use - it's just the correct term for "getting on" most kinds of public transportation, but particularly planes and boats. It is commonly used in all contexts, formal and informal. A plane ticket is exchanged for a 'boarding pass' and in my experience of air travel all passenger announcements use the term, so it isn't surprising that it is in most people's vocabulary and in everyday use.

You can "get on" lots of things, so it's a very broad phrase. You might say you "got on a horse", but the correct term would be mounted.

Not only that, but in the case of transportation, "get on" is arguably a shortened way of saying "get onboard" anyway.

  • Announcements at airports which are formal use board. They would not say get on. Ergo, this is wrong.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 13, 2020 at 16:03
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    @Lambie Have you misread? I haven't said that airport announcements aren't formal, nor have I said that an airport announcer would say anything other than "board". I said there is nothing particularly formal about the word "board". It is used both formally and informally. Ergo, I'm right.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Jun 14, 2020 at 21:32
  • You said; I wouldn't say that boarding is formal.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 15, 2020 at 16:17
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    @Lambie "The plane is now boarding". Is the word "now" formal? Just because someone uses a word in a formal statement doesn't make that word formal. I mean that is isn't reserved for formal use, not that it would never be used in a formal setting.
    – Astralbee
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 8:07
  • Passengers are now boarding the plane.(formal and industry use) = Passengers are now getting on the plane (spoken and informal use).
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 13:26

I always view formality by asking myself how it would be written in a formal setting: Please board the plane by row number vs Please get on the plane by row number. Obviously boarding is a formal use. Similarly with have and have got. Filling in your passport application= Do you have any children vs Sitting in pub chatting with a stranger= Have you got any children.

  • Yes, exactly my point in my other comments.
    – Lambie
    Commented Jun 16, 2020 at 15:57

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