Missing a flight is a nightmare for any traveler. After all the planning and preparation for the upcoming trip, nobody would like any kind of mishap that could possibly keep them away from an amazing holiday, especially the situation where you miss your flight because of arriving late at the airport.
If you are new to air travel and ask anyone the question, ‘how early should you get to the airport,’ you will most likely hear different viewpoints from different people. While some might suggest that you arrive at the airport at least three to four hours before the scheduled flight, some might advise you against being too early as you might end up idling about the terminal.
So, How Early Should You Get to the Airport?
Well, it depends on a variety of factors – what time of the day is your scheduled flight, how big and busy is the airport from where you are departing, what are the check-in requirements of your airline, do you have access to expedited security screening benefits, to name a few. Whether you are traveling domestically or internationally is one of the biggest factors that determines how early you should depart for the airport.
For Domestic Flights:
Most airlines require domestic travelers to check in for the flight at least two hours before the scheduled departure time. If you already checked your bags online and printed your e-boarding pass, then you can arrive a little late, but make sure you reach the airport 90 minutes before your flight (or 60 minutes before when you are traveling domestically with just carry-on bags).
However, if you are checking in for your flight at the airport itself, you need to make it to your airport early so you have enough time for pre-flight formalities such as boarding pass collection, baggage check-in, security checks, etc. In the end, you should be able to get to your departure gate in time for your flight. For regional airports, security lines are shorter and passenger flow is nearly smooth as compared to major airports, hence, passengers will most probably be able to cut it close to departure time at small airports.
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For International Flights:
International travelers have to go through additional security procedures such as immigration and hence the answer to the question, ‘how early should you get to the airport?’ is usually 3 hours before your international flight departure. In fact, you should consider starting a little earlier than three hours from home if you are to take your flight to India from major US airports such as Hartsfield-Jackson, JFK Airport, Chicago O’Hare, or Los Angeles Airport. Expect huge crowds and long security lines at these busy airports and arrive early to be on the safe side. (These airports also provide you with plenty of interesting options to spend your extra minutes/hours before you catch your international flight.)
Moreover, a slew of health screenings became mandatory post-COVID-19, and this has further slowed down airport procedures. Keep track of the latest travel requirements and carry all the necessary health and travel documents required for international travel to avoid being delayed by any such impediments.
Additionally, different airlines have different time frames as to when they expect their passengers to be there at the boarding gate, and this typically ranges between 30 minutes to 60 minutes for international flights. Delta instructs its passengers to arrive at the boarding area at least 45 minutes before the departure time whereas United recommends that its passengers reach the boarding gate no later than 30 minutes. In general, boarding starts 45 minutes ahead and closes 15 minutes before the flight takeoff.
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It’s the Holiday Season. How early should I get to the airport if I’m flying during peak travel seasons like this?
The holiday season is the busiest season for travel in the United States. The security screening process can easily take an additional 1 hour than usual. So, make sure you reach the airport 3 hours ahead of domestic flight departure and up to 4 hours if you are taking an international flight. Planning to travel back home this holiday season? Check out Indian Eagle deals on flights to India and book your travel at the lowest airfare.
What should you do if you arrive late and miss the flight?
If you are running late to the airport or have reached the airport after your flight departure, call your airline or reach out to the specific airline desk at the airport to check if they can board you on the next flight scheduled for departure. Airlines might charge you a certain re-booking fee for this service. If you have booked your flight via Indian Eagle, dial up the Indian Eagle customer care number for immediate assistance.