How Early to Arrive at the Airport?

How Early to Arrive at the Airport?

 

How early should you arrive at the airport? For sanity's sake, I recommend allowing plenty of time for potential traffic delays in getting to the airport, time going through security (sometimes even the TSA Precheck line is long), and time to get to your gate. 

Plus, if you're a frequent flyer or flying business or first class or otherwise have airport lounge access, it's not such a bad thing to have extra time in the lounge to get work done or catch up on emails before your flight.

Whatever you do, be sure to check in online and either print your boarding pass or have it on your phone. Most airlines enable you to check in online, so there's no reason to be rushing to do this at the last second at the airport. I also highly recommend never checking luggage, since it requires you to get to the airport earlier, could get delayed, lost or damaged in transit, and limits your options if you need to be rerouted for any reason.

But if you want to know the minimum time needed to check-in, with and without luggage, fortunately many airlines do provide these details. Note that it varies:

  • Domestic vs. international flights: you'll need to check-in and check luggage earlier for international flights than for domestic
  • Certain airports require more time before departure for check-in and luggage drop-off
Also be sure to check the minimum check-in times with and without luggage if you're flying a partner airline, for example on an Asiana flight with United MileagePlus miles or on a Qantas flight with AAdvantage miles, since the carrier operating your flight determines when you have to have checked in prior to your scheduled departure time.

Alaska Airlines

Alaska advises passengers checking bags to arrive at the airport 2 hours before scheduled departure, and passengers without checked luggage to arrive 90 minutes before scheduled departure.

Domestic Flight With or Without Checked Luggage: Check in at least 40 minutes before scheduled departure EXCEPT 45 minutes before scheduled departure at Atlanta (ATL), Denver (DEN), Las Vegas (LAS) and Philadelphia (PHL) and 60 minutes before scheduled departure for King Salmon and Dillingham between June 1 and August 31.

International Flight With or Without Checked Luggage: Check in at least 60 minutes before scheduled departure EXCEPT 90 minutes prior to scheduled departure at Guadalajara (GDL).

Of particular note is that Alaska requires checked in passengers to be at the gate with valid boarding pass ready for boarding at least 30 minutes prior to scheduled departure: “Being late may cause the cancellation of your reserved seats and/or your entire reservation.”

 

American Airlines 

Domestic Flight No Checked Luggage: Check in at least 45 minutes before scheduled departure and be at gate at least 15 minutes prior to scheduled departure. 

International Flight No Checked Luggage: Check in at least 60 minutes before scheduled departure and be at gate at least 30 minutes before scheduled departure

St. Thomas (STT) With or Without Checked Luggage: Check in at least 3 hours before scheduled departure

American Airlines Minimum Time When Checking Bags

90 Minutes Prior to Scheduled Departure: Caracas, Venezuela (CCS); Maracaibo, Venezuela (MAR); St. Thomas (STT)

75 Minutes Prior to Scheduled Departure: Buenos Aires (EZE); Dublin (DUB)

60 Minutes Prior to Scheduled Departure: San Juan, Puerto Rico (SJU); All other international flights except the ones above, which require more time

45 Minutes Prior to Scheduled Departure: Atlanta (ATL); Austin (AUS); Boston (BOS); Charlotte (CLT); Chicago (ORD); Cincinnati (CVG); Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW); Denver (DEN); Honolulu (HNL); Jacksonville (JAX); Kona (KOA); Lihue (LIH); Las Vegas (LAS); Los Angeles (LAX); Maui (OGG); Miami (MIA); Newark (EWR); New York (JFK); Orlando (MCO); Philadelphia (PHL); Phoenix (PHX); Pittsburgh (PIT); San Franciso (SFO); Seattle (SEA); St. Croix (STX); Tampa (TPA); Washington Dulles (IAD)

 

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines recommends that all passengers traveling in the domestic U.S. be at the airport 75 minutes prior to scheduled departure. You must be checked in at least 30 minutes before scheduled departure and be at the gate at least 15 minutes before scheduled departure.

Delta Airlines Minimum Time When Checking Bags

60 Minutes Prior to Scheduled Departure: New York (JFK); St. Croix (STX); St. Thomas (STT)

45 Minutes Prior to Scheduled Departure: Atlanta (ATL); Boston (BOS); Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW); Denver (DEN); Honolulu (HNL); Las Vegas (LAS); Los Angeles (LAX); New York (LGA); Newark (EWR); Orlando (MCO); Philadelphia (PHL); Reno (RNO); San Juan (SJU); Washington Dulles (IAD); Washington DC (DCA); Syracuse

40 Minutes Prior to Scheduled Departure: Seattle (SEA)

30 Minutes Prior to Scheduled Departure: Cincinnatei (CVG); Fort Lauderdale (FLL); Miami (MIA)

 

United Airlines

United advises passengers to be at the airport at least 2 hours before scheduled departure for international flights, at least 90 minutes before scheduled departure for domestic flights if you're checking luggage, and at least 60 minutes before departure for domestic flights if you have no checked baggage.

Domestic Flight No Checked Luggage: Check in at least 30 minutes before scheduled departure 

San Juan (SJU), No Checked Luggage: Check in at least 45 minutes before scheduled departure 

Guam (GUM), No Checked Luggage: Check in at least 60 minutes before scheduled departure 

United Airlines Minimum Time When Checking Bags

60 Minutes Prior to Scheduled Departure: Guam (GUM); San Juan (SJU); St. Thomas (STT)

45 Minutes Prior to Scheduled Departure: Anchorage (ANC); Atlanta (ATL); Austin (AUS); Baltimore (BWI); Chicago (ORD); Cincinnati (CVG); Cleveland (CLE); Dallas/Fort Worth (DFW); Dallas Love Field (DAL); Denver (DEN); Detroit (DTW); Fort Lauderdale (FLL); Greenville-Spartanburg (GSP); Honolulu (HNL); Houston (IAH); Jacksonville (JAX); Kona (KOA); Las Vegas (LAS); Los Angeles (LAX); Maui (OGG); Miami (MIA); Newark (EWR); Orange County (SNA); Orlando (MCO); Philadelphia (PHL); Phoenix (PHX); Pittsburgh (PIT); Reno (RNO); San Diego (SAN); San Franciso (SFO); Seattle (SEA); St. Louis (STL); Tampa (TPA); Washington Dulles (IAD); Washington DC (DCA)

When do you normally arrive at the airport for domestic and international flights?

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