Imagine, you have perfectly planned your dream vacation! Grabbed the best domestic or international tour package or if travelling for business, got all the travel arrangements made for the meeting. In either of these important situations, you would not wish to miss your flight because you arrived late at the airport or you did not have enough time to get through the airport queues before your flight gates were closed. All this just because you did not estimate how early to arrive at the airport for your flight. It would be such a bummer!

Well, it is not possible to estimate the exact time it will take for you to enter the airport, clear through all the queues and reach your boarding gate. In this blog, we are going to roughly calculate how early to arrive at the airport to avoid any risks.

There are a few factors you can consider while determining how early to arrive at the airport. How big or busy is the departure airport? How far is the airport from your house? Does the country you are travelling through require a heightened security check? Is it a busy time of the year or day? Are you travelling with a large group or kids perhaps?

How early to arrive at the airport for a domestic flight?

As a common rule, for a domestic flight, it is best to arrive at the airport 2 hours before your departure time. Since it is a domestic flight there are fewer queues you will need to wait in. You also won’t necessarily have to check in your baggage. 2 hours prior is an adequate amount of time for a domestic flight. For domestic flights, you can even check in online or on your mobile phone to save you some time. If you want to get your baggage checked in and drop it off, it will add approximately 20-30 minutes. After this, you will need to go through the security checkpoint, which again will take 20-30 minutes depending on the crowd.

After all this, you will have some time left to relax, prepare for your flight, grab a bite to eat or window shop through duty-free shops. Your flight boarding will start at least 45 minutes before departure time and gates will close 25-30 minutes before the scheduled departure time.

How early to arrive at the airport for an international flight?

For long-haul international flights, a time gap between reaching the airport and departure time should be at least 3-3.5 hours. Since it is an international flight, it will take up much more time to clear all the queues. Especially if it is your first time on an international flight, you are travelling
with kids or need time navigating through the airport.

The check-in queue, the boarding pass queue and the security queue almost take double the time as compared to a domestic flight. Letting some extra time for unforeseen delays in these lines will help you later. Usually on international flights, once your bag has already been boarded, they will wait until the last call, if you still don’t show up the airline will most probably pull out your luggage and depart. Even for international flights, the gates will close 30-40 minutes prior to the scheduled departure time.

How early to arrive at the airport for Covid-related checks?

As of 2022, many countries have eased the Covid restrictions. However, you still might be asked for proof of vaccine or a negative RT PCR report at the time of check-in. Make sure to keep all the required documentation ready. This may just use up 10-15 minutes more in your total time at the airport.

Double-checking your flight information:

What if you go through all the trouble to determine how early to arrive at the airport for your flight but accidentally get the wrong flight details like departure date, time, etc? Therefore, it is recommended to check the departure time of your flight at least a few times in case of any changes or delays.

Check beforehand if the airline provides an option of checking in online. This will save you time as well as hassle. If you need to check in your baggage, you will have to spare more time at the airport. Also, check for the ‘flight status’ online to verify the exact departure time. Your airlines
will usually inform you of these details by email including a suggestive time for you to arrive at the airport when you book flights online.

The check-in time is when the airline starts greeting passengers and checking their baggage. The boarding time refers to the time when the passengers can actually start boarding the plane. The departure time is when the plane finally leaves the gate. You can check all of these timings
in advance and plan accordingly.

If you want to save time at the airport, pick a day or time when the airport will be comparatively less crowded. These are usually during off seasons, early in the day or late at night. At this time you can also get the best deals on flight tickets.

Instead of reaching late and risking the chance to miss your flight thereby giving a bad start to your holiday or business trip, plan well in advance. Have a safe journey y’all!

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