IELTS Cue Card: Describe a person who often travels by plane

IELTS Cue Card: Describe a person who often travels by plane


Describe a person who often travels by plane.
You should say:
  • Who this person is
  • Where they go
  • Why they travel by plane
And explain how he or she feels about it.

Part 3:
  • What are the advantages of traveling by plane?
  • Why do some people prefer to travel by train?
  • What are the disadvantages of living near an airport?
  • How is working at an airport different from working somewhere else?

Part 2 — Sample Answer:

I think most people fly only a few times a year, however there are those that need to fly more regularly, often for professional reasons.

One of my friends is a frequent flyer. He studies in Warsaw — where he’s originally from — but found a well paid job in the financial sector in London. In order to juggle both at the same time, he needs to bounce between both cities every week.

He has a distance learning arrangement with his university, but the university requires him to be present for a fixed number of classes. His employer is quite flexible and allows him a certain number of days off to accommodate for his studies and the extraordinary commitments he has.

Europe is known for its cheap flights between destinations, and the London to Warsaw route has a lot of airlines that service it. In fact, it’s the only reasonable way he’s able to go between the two cities. While I’m sure it would be somewhat possible by train or bus, the journey would be extraordinarily long and would make the arrangement impossible.

When I talked to him about it, I thought he’d talk quite enthusiastically about being able to fly all the time, however quite the opposite was true. He said that while it was fun at first, he’s now exhausted and bored with having to fly so much. He said it feels so routine to him that he almost sleepwalks through it. He did say he’s managed to streamline the whole procedure, and packs minimally to get through security as quickly as possible, and only take carry-on luggage with him so he doesn’t have to wait around for his luggage to appear on the baggage carousel.

I’ve hung out with him when he was booking his tickets. I’ve literally never seen someone go through the process so quickly and effortlessly. Whereas it would take most people a considerable amount of time to book their flights, he knew exactly which site to go for the best fare, and completed the process in no more than five minutes.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Well paid (adjective)
Something that makes or pays a lot of money.
Example: She was not well paid and found it difficult to provide for her family.

Juggle (verb)
Try to do two or more things at the same time, because you don’t have a lot of time.
Example: Senior executives are under pressure to juggle the increasing demands of their workload.

Bounce (verb)
To move between two places.
Example: He bounced between his hometown and the city he works in.

Extraordinary (adjective)
Something that’s extraordinary is very unusual or surprising.
Example: It’s extraordinary that nobody disagreed with him.

Enthusiasm (noun)
A feeling of being very interested in something and excited by it.
Example: For a while I was very enthusiastic about moving to Sydney, but then I decided to move to Toronto instead.

At first (phrase)
A phrase that’s used to describe the beginning before something changes.
Example: At first he wouldn’t even talk about it.

Sleepwalk (verb)
If you sleepwalk, you act without paying any attention to what you are doing or without thinking carefully about what might happen.
Example: She sleepwalks through her life.

Streamline (verb)
To change something so it works better, especially by making it simpler.
Example: The company streamlined its operations and increased its profits.

Carry-on luggage (noun)
A small bag that passengers can carry on to an aircraft or a bus.
Example: Carry-on luggage must not be too big or heavy, otherwise it can’t be taken on the plane.

Baggage carousel (noun)
The machine that delivers checked luggage to the passengers at the baggage claim area at their final destination.
Example: We waited a long time for our bags to come out after our flight.

Hung out (phrasal verb)
If you spend a lot of time somewhere you are said to hang out there. You can also hang out with people too.
Example: I’ve been hanging out all day at the beach.

Effortlessly (adjective)
Something that’s done well or successfully and without any effort.
Example: He plays the piano effortlessly, but it’s only after years of practice.

Part 3 — Sample Answers:

What are the advantages of traveling by plane?

I think there are quite a number of advantages.

One of the key advantages is speed. While getting through airport security and immigration can be slow, the flying part itself is swift. This means that for all but the shortest of distances, flying is the quickest option.

Flying also opens up options that otherwise wouldn’t be reasonable. Few would want to go on vacation to the other side of the world because it would take so long by boat, but a flight makes the idea more palatable, to the point that most people wouldn’t be turned off by a 12 hour flight, but would be put off by a three month ocean journey.

I think the other advantage is the fun factor. For a lot of people aviation is cool and flying is something they really enjoy. The only time most people will ever get to see the top of the clouds is when they’re in a plane, which is possibly why the window seat is the most prized.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Key (adjective)
Something that’s key is very important and has a lot of influence on other people or things.
Example: She was a key figure in the art world.

Swift (adjective)
Something that happens quickly or immediately.
Example: Ellen made a swift recovery.

Opens up (phrasal verb)
If something creates a new opportunity or possibility, it’s said to open up such a possibility.
Example: Going freelance opens up all sorts of possibilities to you.

Palatable (adjective)
Something that’s palatable is acceptable.
Example: The city council has tried to make property taxes more palatable by giving homeowners more time to pay them.

Turned off (phrasal verb)
It can literally mean to stop a piece of equipment from working temporarily by pressing a button or flipping a switch. It can also mean to make someone feel bored or no longer interested in something.
Example A: He turned off the TV before leaving the house.
Example B: Rudeness is the ultimate turn off. Bad breath is also a turn off for me.

Put off (phrasal verb)
If you’re put off by something, you don’t want to do it because it’s unappealing, unpleasant, or distasteful.
Example: Lack of parking spaces were putting off potential customers.

Fun factor (idiom)
How fun something is its fun factor.
Example: We chose Ibiza because it’s fun factor is legendary.

Prized (adjective)
Something that’s prized is considered valuable and important.
Example: Her photograph is among my most prized possessions.

Why do some people prefer to travel by train?

There are quite a number of people that are deathly afraid of flying. For these people a train can feel like a safer option. They feel more comfortable being on the ground, and have an irrational fear of falling out of the sky.

There are others for which a train journey can be the faster option. There are some cities that are close enough that although there are regular flights, factoring in the time spent at the airport, a train can make more sense.

Lastly there are those that really enjoy the scenery and more peaceful nature of a train. There’s no turbulence and they’ll be able to see things like forests and the ocean, or even a number of different cities that the train will pass through.

It can also work out to be cheaper too. Sometimes flying is the most expensive option and someone might want to save a penny or two by taking the train.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Deathly afraid (adverb)
Someone that is deathly afraid is extremely afraid.
Example: Susie was deathly afraid of snakes and spiders.

Irrational (adjective)
If you do something irrationally, you’re not thinking clearly or reasonably.
Example: I had an irrational fear of monsters until I was in my teens.

Factoring in (phrasal verb)
If you include something when you’re doing a calculation, you’re said to be factoring it in.
Example: People are earning more, but when inflation is factored in, they are no better off.

Turbulence (noun)
Strong sudden movements within air, usually experienced on a plane.
Examples: We might be experiencing some severe turbulence, so please can you return to your seats and fasten your seatbelts.

Pass through (phrasal verb)
If you go to a place only for a short period of time before continuing a trip, you pass through that place.
Example: We were only passing through Vegas; we didn’t stop.

What are the disadvantages of living near an airport?

I think the most obvious one is noise. Planes are noisy, and despite advances in engine technology, they’re still quite loud.

There are a lot of people that live close enough to an airport that noise is a major part of their lives. Noise pollution has been shown to have a detrimental effect on one’s health, and roaring planes aren’t going to make things better.

I think the other disadvantage is that most airports are far away from the city center, where most people seem to work. This would make their commute to work excessively long and possibly mean that their only employment opportunities would be at the airport.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Noise pollution (noun)
Noise, in particular from traffic and vehicles, that upsets people and is considered to be unhealthy for them. It may distract them or make their lives miserable.
Example: Tom lived really close to the airport, but the sound of the planes was too much and he had to move somewhere quieter.

Detrimental (adjective)
Something that’s harmful or damaging.
Example: Being in the sun too much can be detrimental to your skin.

Roaring (adjective)
A loud and powerful sound.
Example: The lion roared at the zoo’s visitors.

Commute (verb)
The regular travel to and from work.
Example: I have a really long commute to work, but the fastest way is the train.

How is working at an airport different from working somewhere else?

I think there are a number of differences. Perhaps the biggest difference is airport workers need to get a security clearance even to work in one of the retail stores. This would make getting a job at an airport a lot harder, but I imagine it’s slightly better paid because of this.

I think another difference is that airports are usually far away from where most people live. This means that most airport workers will have a fairly long commute, and often would have to pay more for transport to the airport because of the distance.

Obviously a lot of airport workers are going to be working up close with planes. Maybe they’re baggage handlers or some other kind of ground crew, and seeing the big jets so close is something they’ll get used to quite quickly.

Most of the customer facing staff will deal with people from every corner of the globe. Whereas most retail employees will deal with people from their own country most of the time, airport employees will have to deal with people from all kinds of backgrounds. Therefore being multilingual will be a significant advantage.

Vocabulary and idioms for this answer:

Up close (adjective)
If you’re very close to something, you’re up close.
Example: I was able to get up close and see some very rare fish.

Ground crew (noun)
The people at the airport who take care of the aircraft while it is on the ground.
Example: The ground crew are usually seen wearing high visibility jackets.

Get used to (phrase)
If you get used to something or someone, you become familiar with it or familiar with them, so that you no longer feel that the thing is unusual or surprising.
Example: This is how we do things here. You’ll soon get used to it.

Customer facing (adjective)
Someone that’s customer-facing deals directly with the customers of a business.
Example: People working in customer-facing roles can make or break their company’s reputation in an instant.

Every corner of the globe (idiom)
Despite the fact the earth is round and doesn’t have corners, this idiom refers to every part of the world.
Example: She invited relatives from every corner of the globe to her 80th birthday party.

Background (noun)
The things that have made you in the person you are, especially family, experience, and education.
Example: The school has students from many different backgrounds.

Multilingual (adjective)
Someone who is able to speak several different languages well.
Example: Most of my friends are multilingual, but I only speak one language.

How long will these questions be valid?

At least until the end of April 2020.
Three times a year the British Council changes many of the topics and questions they ask. Sometimes they decide to keep a topic for another four months, but oftentimes they decide to replace it. This one is very likely to be replaced with a new topic at the beginning of May 2020, but it won't be known for sure until then.

Just to let you know, there are 49 possible part 2/3 topics on the current exam. Sometimes there are more, sometimes there are less, and this number changes when the British Council updates the questions.

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United Kingdom
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I help students with two things: ✅ Day to day speaking practice ✅ IELTS speaking test preparation I correct everything and will help you learn where your mistakes are and how to fix them. I don't ignore your mistakes! I have all the current questions that can appear on the IELTS speaking test. Preparing with me won't be a waste of time, and you won't be practicing questions that are years out of date. I've helped hundreds of students get the score they want on the IELTS speaking test, which can be an incredibly difficult test sometimes. I can help make sure you're as prepared as possible for the questions that examiners can throw at you. Many of my students have commented that they've practiced the very same questions that appeared on the exam, and were happy to have thought through some tricky topics in advance. Let's get started! Book a class and I'll see you soon!
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