How early should you get to the Airport?

How early should you arrive at the airport?

Jul 14, 2019

I cannot even keep a count of how many times I have asked this question to myself. The confusing questions of “how early should I arrive at the airport?” is not as tough to answer as you think.

No matter if you are a first time or a frequent traveler you do not want to be late for your flight which makes you wonder “when should I get to the airport?”

My job requires me to travel every now and then. Now traveling itself is not a huge issue for me. However, what bothers me is when I am told that my flight is in the next few hours. The urgent traveling schedule leaves with less time to worry about anything else but “How early should I arrive for the international flight?

I love my job which is why I wouldn’t change a thing about it. However, after all these years, I am still learning how to manage my time between packing my suitcase, and dealing with when should I be at the airport.

Things you should consider while deciding how early you should get to the airport

  • Is it really important to check in all your baggage or you can easily carry it on board?
  • What is the size of your airport? How much time it will take to walk from the security to the gate?
  • Is it going to be peak hour at the airport? Are you traveling during a holiday season?
  • Are you traveling alone or with children? Can your children or family slow you down?
  • (Transportation Security Administration) TSA recommends traveler to arrive 2 hours earlier for domestic flight and 3 hours earlier for an international flight

So if you want to make sure you never have to worry about missing a flight, read the following guidelines and rules enforced by airlines. Here are a few things you should know.

airport area

Book Early Flights:

I know the general rule goes by “to each his own” but I always try my best to take the earliest flight. In this way, I do not have to worry about how early to be at the airport and I am able to avoid flight delays.


I know it might sound to be a lot of work, but I strongly believe in pre-packing. As I told you that my job requires me to travel all the time, which is why I always have a pre-packed traveling bag that has everything that I need ready all the time. It really helps me with deciding when should I get to the airport since I have everything pack and ready to go.

Take Uber Or Cab-Service:

This is something that I have learned the hard way but taking uber to the airport is the best idea. I do not like to wait for my partner to leave from her work and drop me to the airport. I constantly think what if she is unable to make it on time.
This is the reason I book an uber to the airport and I am always at least 90 minutes before the flight time. I would rather arrive early for my flight than be late and standing in the longboarding line.

How Early You Should Be For A Domestic Flight:

Be it international flight or a domestic one, I always tend to be there at the airport at least 90 minutes before my flight’s departure time. Many airlines will stop boarding 30 minutes prior to the departure. I prefer to check-in online and I almost never check the baggage. Therefore, no matter what time I arrive at the airport, all I have to do is go through the security.

However, if you are still not sure “how early to get to the airport for domestic flight” then start with checking, what is the policy of the airline for your domestic flight. There are plenty of airlines requires the passenger to arrive 2 hours before your flight timings. If you are flying during the peak time of the day or night, then the wisest thing to do is be ahead of the given time. If you don’t know what the peak timings of the airport are, then you can check it online on their website.

How Early Should I Arrive For International Flight

If you think that the answer to how early should I get to the airport for an international flight is same as that of domestic flight then you are in for a surprise. There is something extra about the international flight which is why the most of the airlines suggest that the passengers should arrive three hours prior to international departures, even if you don’t have baggage apart from the carry-on or you Make Sure traveling outside of the peak times. When it comes to an international airport, the ideal check-in time for an international flight is usually two hours prior to departure.

Make Sure You Checked the Airline’s Website:

This is one thing that people almost never do. Instead of constantly wondering, the wise thing to do is check the airline’s or airport’s website for additional information. You will be surprised to see how much you don’t know.

Peak Time Is An Important Thing:

The thing about the peak timings is that every airport has a different peak time/day. It can be Monday for one airport and Saturday for the other airport. Security lines are usually most busy on holidays like Thanksgiving and Christmas. So, to avoid long security lines is to reach early at the airport. Make it your habit to check the peak hours/day before leaving for your flight. This will also help you a great deal to make up your mind about how early you should be at the airport.

Baggage Requirements:

Since I travel most of the time for work, which is why I hardly have any baggage with me.
So if you want to cut it close when planning for your next trip, you could end up forgetting this hidden obstacle. However, a few months back I was leaving for vacation and was surprised to see that a lot of airlines ask your bags to be checked in prior to the departure or you won’t be allowed onto your flight. So you should always check the baggage check-in requirements on the airline’s website.

Check-In Requirements:

The check-in requirement is also a big thing like the baggage check-in. Present your ticket to your flight’s designated check-in counter depending on your airline. Almost every airline requires you to check-in by a specific time prior to the departure time of the flight. Passenger must be at the check-in counter 45 minutes prior to the departure time. Once you know the timeline of the airport and you will be able to know how early you should arrive at the airport.

Can You Check-In Online?

The answer to your question is, Yes. Yes, you can check in online. A lot of passengers do that and print their e-boarding pass. However, it is still important that you leave a margin of at least 20 to 40 minutes between you reaching at the airport and your arrival time.

Gate Arrival Is A Thing:

Do not mix the check-in requirements with the gate arrival timings. Some airlines have specific gate arrival timings and won’t allow you to go past that.

Difference between Departure Time and Door Closing Time:

It is crucial that you do not mix the departure time of your flight with door closing time. Just because there is time mentioned for your flight, it doesn’t mean that there cannot be last-minute changes to it. Most of the time, if the flight is full early then they can close the door before the mentioned time.

How Your Flight Can Leave Without You?

If you are confused after reading what has mentioned above that your flight can leave early, leaving you behind, then here is the answer to this confusion. Most of the times, if a passenger is late, the airline gives your ticket to the next standby passenger.

Still wondering “When To Get To The Airport?” Well as early as you can. You do not want to miss your flight and hey coming early is all fun.

If you find yourself at the airport with extra time to spare, there’s plenty of things to do for entertainment and relaxation. You do not have to worry about missing your flight and you can enjoy all the perks that the waiting area has to offer.

If you are not into the perks that are being offered, you can always be friends with your favorite book and wait till your flight departure.

Anitha Perumal

Anitha Perumal

Content Strategist

Anitha Perumal is a Content Strategist at Claim Flights GmbH. She is a digital influencer, content specialist, analyst and always loves to do new things with new ideas. She holds a Master's degree in Information Technology.

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