Have you ever been in a situation when you had to catch a flight running to the boarding gate at the last minute? Well, if no, you probably belong to the category of travelers who arrive at the airport hours before the departure. The other category is for the ones who reach the airport so close to the scheduled departure that they might even miss the flight. So, how early should you reach the airport to have enough time in hand to check-in and get on the flight on time? Keep Reading.
Considerable factors to reach the airport on time
The airline’s check-in requirements and guidelines
First of all, make sure you know how busy and big the departure airport is and do go through the guidelines and check-in requirements mentioned by the airlines. Like, Delta Airlines asks the passengers to reach the airport at least 4 hours before the departure of a flight from Dublin Airport and one must reach the boarding gate 1 hour before the departure. Sounds insane? Well, if you are flying to the United States from Dublin, definitely not. Dublin is an airport with U.S. Customs and Border Protection that states you need to go through immigrations and customs prior to the departure. Having ample time in hand is always the best thing to do to ensure you don’t miss the flight.
Access to faster lines with pre-screening, first class tickets or mileage status
Do you have an access to faster lines for any of these reasons? If so, you can consider shaving off some time from your suggested airport arrival time. But if it is the busy time of the year or day, it is better not to take any risk. We would advise you to read the fare rules that come along with your ticket, just in case you miss the flight.
Check out the below-mentioned thumb rules to make sure you need not rush to the airport to get on the flight.
For Domestic Flights: Passengers who have bags to check must reach the airport 2 hours prior to the the departure time and the ones who only have carry-on baggage, must reach 90 minutes prior to the departure time.
Do you think your flight won’t take off without you if you have checked in your baggage? To your surprise, you are wrong. A domestic flight will not delay unless there is some kind of unusual behavior or circumstance. And to tell you, checking a bag in the last moment or rushing to the boarding gate to catch a flight is not very unusual.
Moreover, if you have a plan to check luggage, it is no less a reason to reach airport early. The baggage drop lines are mostly long and if you reach the counter right at the check-in cutoff, you are out from the flight. In case of small regional airports, reach at least 90 minutes to check bags and 60 minutes when traveling with a carry-on baggage. In case you have booked a business class flight, you might get a chance to board through a special line before the economy passengers but reaching the airport on time is still important.
For International Flights: Reach at least 3 hours prior to the departure time
No, we are not making it dramatic. Even though an international flight might consider waiting for you if you have already checked the baggage, still when you don’t show up on the last call, pulling off your bags is a feasible option for the airline than delaying the takeoff. In case of an already overbooked flight, you will be bumped off the flight without any compensation and your seat will be allotted to another passenger who has reached there on time.
Delta Airlines asks the passengers to reach the boarding gate at least 45 minutes before departure for international flights and United Airlines’ minimum time is 30 minutes before departure. Doesn’t matter if the airplane’s door are opened or closed, you won’t be allowed beyond the boarding gate if you reach late. An airplane can take off 10 minutes before the scheduled departure. As soon as the seats are full, no matter who is sitting on your seat, the plane will take off.
On days like Labor Day Weekend or the day before Thanksgiving, extend the suggested arriving time above by one hour
If you have planned a trip during the popular holiday dates, expect long lines at the security. As per records of the Transportation Security Administration, during the peak summer holidays of USA in 2019, there have been a record-breaking number of 2.7 billion fliers each day at U.S. airports. We hope now you understand why we said to add an hour to the recommended time frame to reach the airport during such days.
Before leaving for the airport, check the MyTSA app to know the status of the airport – if it is busy, how busy it would probably be as per the historical data. You can also apply for TSA PreCheck to get the privilege of faster security check.
Do not hope that the fellow passengers or airlines will let you move to the security counter cutting the line, if your flight is about to leave. This happens only with people who are extra lucky! Moreover, there have been cases when not only the passenger was refused the chance to go ahead in the security line but had to pay a big sum as change fees and also missed his flight.