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Monday, January 31, 2011

How early should you arrive in the airport to catch your flight?

How early should you arrive in the airport to catch your flight?

 

 

 

 

 

Are you sick and tired of spending half of your vacation day sitting around in an airport terminal, because you arrived much before your scheduled flight time? It happens with many, since most people search for that magic number, wandering how early they should arrive at an airport, to catch their flight hassle free. It is generally advised that passengers should arrive at the airport at least one hour before the departure. However, this time duration may vary, depending on the season, the airport from which you are travelling and your personal necessities. Moreover, the stringent security nowadays has made the check-in procedure quite time-consuming.

Most US airlines have printed their preferred time schedule on their tickets, which you can treat as your guideline to aid you to calculate how early you should arrive in the airport. The standard timing mentioned is one hour before a domestic flight and two hours prior to an international flight.

However, many airlines now recommend two hours before a domestic flight and three prior an international flight, especially if the threat advisory level is at yellow or higher. Due to the tight security measures in recent times, airports no longer allow checking in for your flight from curbside. All other offsite airport check-ins are no longer available either. Hence, you are bound to get into the long queue to use the check-in counters to check your luggage, which is much more time consuming.

Remember, if you need to return a rental car or you are parking in a long-term offsite parking lot, some extra time may be needed to handle any problem that may crop up. You will again need some extra time, if you are travelling with items such as a baby stroller or wheelchair, to pass the security to the gate and qualify for early boarding. Passengers traveling with children or those with injured people or physically challenged can board the flight first, once boarding has begun.

The most sluggish phase in the airport occurs during the peak season when there is a major rush and you need plenty of extra time to reach the gate. The security procedure also slows down, since they open all wrapped packages in the passengers' carry on luggage.

You should arrive at your departure gate at least 30 minutes before the scheduled take-off time, since boarding generally starts around that time. It is better to browse your airline or airport website, for the updated information on airport arrival time, if you are not confident about how much time you will need.

Did you consider that how early is too early?

If you are arriving at the airport two hours prior the scheduled time of your domestic flight, even on a Saturday, it can be regarded as too early. It is probably too much even if you are departing from LaGaurdia or some other awful airport. Still, most of the U.S. people prefer to adhere to that two- hour rule since they find it better to wait than to miss their flight.

Let us know your experiences and suggestions about the best time to arrive in the airport. Waiting for your comments...

 

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