How Early Should I Arrive At The Airport To Catch My Flight?
It is a very common question that many travellers ask that “how early should I arrive at the airport to catch a flight?”
In the article, we are looking at both domestic and international flights in order to give a clear picture of how early you should arrive at the airport for your flight.
(Btw, writing this article on a 12-hour flight Melbourne – Delhi, phewww).
Let’s get rolling!
Benefits of Arriving Early for your flight
Before talking about how early you should be at the airport, let’s discuss the benefits of arriving early at the airport. Here are a few of the main advantages:
- It helps you plan your trip better.
- It helps to avoid the unnecessary stress while travelling.
- Avoid any surprises like new entry requirements for other countries (or updates you might miss out on about your flight).
- Depending on airlines, sometimes you can ask for better seat availability.
- You can check your bags early to avoid long queues.
- You have enough time to claim any Taxes on your purchases like TRS (Tourist Refund Scheme).
- You have the opportunity to enjoy leisure and entertainment at the airport.
Drawbacks of arriving late for your flight
Now we know what are some of the benefits of arriving early at the airport. It is important to note these drawbacks of arriving late at the airport:
- The first and most obvious one is you risk missing your flight when arriving late at the airport.
- And missing a flight could also mean additional rebooking fees.
- This could have a huge impact on your planned journey whether it is for holidays, business or studying. Consider hotel cancellations, airport pick-up services reschedule fee, etc.
- You might be rushed to check-in your baggage and custom clearances that can result in lost or delayed baggage as the staff can’t check your baggage in.
- You could miss out on important information regarding your flight or connecting flight as you are rushed.
Factors to consider for your arrival time at the airport
While planning for your arrival time, these are the important factors to consider:
- Distance between your location and airport: Depending on how far or close you are to airport, you will need to plan your journey accordingly. Obviously the farther away you are, the earlier you need to leave for the airport.
- Whether it is a domestic or international flight: Based on whether you are travelling internationally or domestically, you will need to consider your arrival time at the airport. Usually for international travel, you are required to arrive earlier as there are additional security checks and customs you might have to go through.
- Time of the day: If you are travelling during the peak hours (or also called rush hours) then you will need to plan to leave earlier for your optimal arrival at the airport. Off-peak hours flights means you can have a bit more time under your belt. Also consider the day of the week for your travel as well.
- Peak or low season: If it is a busy season like Christmas Holidays, New Years, School holidays, Easter Break, then you need to consider leaving your home early for travelling.
- Local events: Special local events like religious festivals, cultural events, political rallies and campaigns, etc, can affect your arrival time at the airport.
- Baggage: If you are just planning to bring carry-on baggage, or you have checked-in baggage as well, it can influence your arrival time. If you have checked-in baggage, that means you need more time at the airport.
- Online check-in: If you have done an online check-in and printed your boarding pass, then it saves you time which means quicker checkout process at the airport. In short, it means less early you need to arrive at the airport.
- Mode of Transport: Depending on the mode of transport, you might need to leave early for the airport. If you’re going to the airport, you can use either public transportation or a taxi. But keep in mind, public transportation has a set schedule, while a taxi does not. Basically, you’ll need to plan your trip accordingly.
- Travel purpose and requirements: Your travel purpose such as if you are travelling for business or leisure purposes can also dictate your arrival time at the airport.
- Travel class: Depending on the class of travel you choose for your flight (such as business, executive or economy), you may arrive at the airport earlier or later than usual.
Tips for determining the right time to arrive at the airport for your flight
Let’s discuss some key tips for finding the right time to arrive at the airport:
- Plan ahead: Ahem, Ahem. Sounds too obvious? Well it is. But we can’t deny the fact that planning ahead of time will save a lot of hassle and stress for your travel. If you are a really organised person, then you can consider creating an itinerary for your travel, including the time to arrive at the airport.
- Online services: Utilise the online services provided by your airlines, for example doing an online check-in, booking your seats and printing your boarding pass as well. This will save a ton of time for your travel.
- Keep an eye out on traffic: These days with real time data available for the traffic conditions, it is quite easy to plan your travel well. So, keep one eye on the traffic conditions as well.
- Check-in and boarding time: You should be keeping track of when the check-in counter opens for your flight and what time the boarding time starts and close.
- Consider your personal situation: While we can suggest you all the tips in the world, considering your personal preferences and habits can dictate a lot for your arrival time at the airport.
How early should you arrive at the airport for your flight?
Now let’s answer the most important question about the topic “How early should you arrive at the airport to catch my flight?”.
As per the most airline guides, here is the ideal arrival time for your flights:
- Domestic Flight: For your domestic flights, ideally you should be arriving at the airport 1 to 2 hours before the flight departure time. This will allow enough time to do your check-in, screening and boarding for the flight.
- International Flight: For the international flight, you should be arriving at least 2 to 3 hours at the airport before your scheduled departure time. This is due to extra time required for immigration, passport control and security checks for international flights.
Boarding gates close 10 to 20 minutes before flight departure times for domestic airlines and 20 to 40 minutes for international flights.
Check-in usually closes 20 to 45 minutes prior to flight departure for domestic airlines and 60 to 90 minutes before departure for international flights.
We also recommend coming earlier to the airport during busy periods or if travelling through high traffic airports.
Please note that these guidelines are general in nature. We recommend that you confirm with the airline, airport, or booking consultant on the best time to arrive at the airport.
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In a nutshell, it is important to prioritise early arrival at the airport for your flights. Coming a little earlier means less stress and better organisation of your travel plans.
We hope you find this article useful. If you like this article, then you might want to check our article on 10 cheap countries that you can visit from Australia here.