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Check-in 1 or 2 hours early? Conflicting CO statements

Check-in 1 or 2 hours early? Conflicting CO statements

 
Old Sep 30, 01, 2:20 pm
  #1  
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Join Date: Mar 2001
Location: Philly, Madrid
Programs: Alaska MVP
Posts: 2,547
Check-in 1 or 2 hours early? Conflicting CO statements

CO reservation agent:
"Please arrive 2 hours early for check in."

Email from CO:
"Question: Do I have to show up at the airport two hours early?

Answer: Even with all the new enhanced security, arriving one hour early for domestic flights should give you plenty of time. Please continue to arrive 2 hours early for international flights"


Which is it? I know that it depends on the airport, but isn't it kind of dumb to send out these two conflicting statements? Or did this email only go to elites, assuming the elite check in lines will be shorter?

srodr is offline  
Old Sep 30, 01, 4:47 pm
  #2  
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Join Date: May 1998
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Posts: 5,030
Q: >>"Which is it?"<<

A: Well, really the answer is neither. The official answer for domestic flights is:
"All Advance Seat Requests are subject to cancellation if the passenger has not checked in and received a boarding pass from a Continental agent at least 20 minutes prior to departure. Reservations of all passengers are subject to cancellation, and passengers may not be eligible for denied boarding compensation if they fail to present themselves for boarding at least 10 minutes prior to departure." Furthermore, the aircraft door will most likely close five minutes prior to departure.

So now that official policy is understood, what does that mean from a practical standpoint? Well, it really boils down to what the individual feels comfortable with. The specific airport of origin, elite status, amount and type of baggage, etc. are guiding factors.

Arriving at the average large airport one hour before flight time should allow the normal passenger to arrive at the gate when the boarding process begins. Planning to arrive two hours early allows a nice cushion for special circumstances, such as heavy traffic, long lines for security clearance, delay for hand search of luggage, etc.

This is a question each passenger will have to answer for his or her self. Perhaps the most prudent course of action would be to arrive between one-and-a-half to two hours early the first couple of times to the airport, until the passenger is settled back into a new routine. Just make sure you are at the gate at least twenty minutes prior to departure.
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