The landing of an airplane


Senior Member

Which of the following would be the most correct or suitable option in a sentence:

1) The airplane, an American Airlines flight, touched town at Heathrow airport.

2) The airplane touched down at Heathrow Airport.

3) The American Airlines flight touched down at Heathrow airport.

Noting the airline would be more preferable, but I wonder if option 1 would make grammatical sense since "airplane" and "flight" are being used in the same sentence.
  • "A flight" is like "a trip". It is one instance of travelling FROM one place TO another place.
    "An airplane" is the vehicle that goes on that trip. It is not the trip.
    "An Airline" is the company owning the airplane, and scheduling trips for it.

    These three things are not interchangeable. A flight could end at Heathrow (the destination is Heathrow), but a flight can't "touch down". Only an airplane can do that. You can use the airline name like an adjective:
    "an American flight" or "American flight #347".

    You can say things that are not correct (for example, interchange "flight" and "airplane) if you use a common idiom. But the set of common idioms in English is different than the set in Spanish. There is a different WR forum for Spanish-English translations. Some people there know both sets of idioms.

    Spanish-English Grammar / Gramática Español-Inglés
    "Common" is a perfectly reasonable word to use. I didn't claim it was more common than any other word referring to air transport, nor did I restrict it to "the ... at". Deliberately restricting the search text in an ngram search to maximise the difference is hardly making a good use of ngrams.

    You are, of course, also ignoring usage in magazines and newspapers. The dictionary "in context" link provides plenty of examples - I suggest you try it for "flight touched down". Here's just a few recent ones to get you started:

    Dozens of flights land at Palm Beach International Airport daily, but a special flight touched down Saturday: A flight full of heroes returning from the nation’s capital. (WPTV 17 Sep 2023)

    The man, said to be wearing a grey t-shirt, shorts, a baseball cap and flip flops, was greeted by police at Manchester Airport and escorted off the aircraft after the flight touched down from Palma. (Mail Online 1 Jun 2023)

    Shortly after a Sun Country flight touched down at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport, a passenger forced open an emergency exit and leaped from the plane, Minnesota airport officials told news outlets. (Kansas City Star 10 Jul 2023)
    I shall leave it to you to explore recent usage of "flights touched down" - there are plenty of those also.