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How many hours do you arrive before international flight?

How many hours do you arrive before international flight?

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Old Sep 12, 18, 1:07 am
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How many hours do you arrive before international flight?

I know its 3 hours which is recommended. But first off, you have to make sure you get to the airport on time whether by car, taxi or whatnot. I know you have to check your luggage at least 1 hour before. Now I want to know this. When you get to the airport, do most of you check in on the line... or on the kiosk? Could you check in with kiosk if you have luggage? I always had checked via the regular line because i want to make sure things are correct. But if you check in via kiosk, does that mean you could arrive a bit later? But then how do you drop off your luggage?


Now if you get to airport 3 hours before your flight, when you go on the line, usually there is almost not that long of a wait right? I don't recall but how early can you get on the line to check in? Because most of the time, i get to airport say 1.5 hour to 2.5 hour before my flight. Then i wait on the line to check in with clerk Usually when i wait on the line, it depends but it could be as little as 5 minutes... all the way to maybe 30 minutes if the line is very long etc. So if you get to the airport 2 hours before your international flight and wait on the line to check in with clerk, are you pretty safe? Since well unless you have to wait over 50 minutes on the line, then you are fine? Because im starting to wonder why do you need to arrive 3 hours before your international flight. I assume 2 hours is perfect? But 1.5 hours is very borderline right assuming the line is pretty long? The other thing is this. What about people that have no luggage to check in for their international flights? Couldn't those people just go check in with the kiosk and basically show up 1.5 hour before and then go to the line to check your carry on and go through?


Thanks.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 2:21 am
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I generally go for 3 hours +/- a bit of contingency.

A little less if travelling in business or travelling from my home port.

I add a bit more contingency when downroute, especially flying out of an unfamiliar airport.

Another factor that increases required contingency is if there's no airport train, meaning you are relying on road transport to get to the airport, which could be affected by congestion. At airports like Narita or Zurich, you can pretty much set your watch off the airport train timetable.

Last edited by Offshore171; Sep 12, 18 at 2:28 am
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Old Sep 12, 18, 3:38 am
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Tend to check in in the morning for night flights (which most long-haul ones I take from here are), whether going to work that day or just a day off. That's the nice thing about having an in-town check-in facility. Can then get to the airport an hour or so before the flight leaves, long enough if there's an issue with the train (rare) and long enough for long security lines (again rare if travelling at times not 'popular' with the tour groups).

Otherwise, at destinations without in-town check-in (which are unfortunately most!), then at the airport three hours before. If early, can have a cup of tea; but if late... I can do without that stress.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 4:12 am
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Most of my travel is work related, so if work is done might as well kill time at the airport in the lounge. I get to airport anywhere from 90 minutes - 5 hours.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 8:04 am
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It depends on the airport. My home airport is MCI so, sadly, very few international nonstops (except those to Mexico and now Icelandair to KEF). I see no reason to be there 3 hours early for a flight that's going to connect in ORD to an international flight. The only extra work they need to do at MCI is verify my passport.

I do try to allow 2-3 hours if it's an airport where I have to go through "security" AND passport control.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 8:14 am
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Depends where from, which airline, pre-check or not (in the US), and whether you have luggage...

If you're checking luggage, does your airline have self-service (i.e. you tag) or semi-self-service (you push buttons, the employee tags the bag) kiosks to tag bags, or do you have to wait in line behind the family of 7 with 38 bags on a 4-segment flight to Nowhereland who couldn't be bothered to pick seats online and is now crying to one of the two airline employees on duty that they can't sit together?

How familiar are you with the congestion at security? If it's your home airport and you fly at the same time of week often, you've got an idea how long (or not) security takes.

etc etc.

I always check in online and rarely check luggage, so I've been known to turn up 45 minutes before the flight if I'm reasonably certain I won't get stuck in a security or outbound immigration control line. That said, in an unfamiliar city where I'm taking transit I have no experience with, I might show up 2.5 hours early and hang out in the lounge and/or bar rather than running the risk of missing the flight.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 8:18 am
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Originally Posted by Athena53 View Post
It depends on the airport. My home airport is MCI so, sadly, very few international nonstops (except those to Mexico and now Icelandair to KEF). I see no reason to be there 3 hours early for a flight that's going to connect in ORD to an international flight. The only extra work they need to do at MCI is verify my passport.

I do try to allow 2-3 hours if it's an airport where I have to go through "security" AND passport control.
The above is my process. My home airport is SLC. If I am checking a bag I get there 60-75 minutes before hand. For the return it very much depends but in general 2-3 hours before hand because unlike the USA most all other countries have exit passport control and those lines can be longer than the security lines. The last time I arrived ~2.5 hours a head.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 8:27 am
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I usually like to get to the airport 3 hours before so I can have a decent meal before I fly. That way I don't have to BoB or rely on the airline to feed me.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 8:27 am
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Most USA legacy carriers learned after 9-11 that if passengers are required to be at the airport too early, rather than complying many will just cut back on travel. If you make a weekly business trip, three hours early in each direction means that you're wasting about four hours every week on average, 10% of a "normal" workweek or about a month's worth of productivity over the year. Airports and airlines need to plan their staffing based on accurate predictions of anticipated numbers of customers, just like most other service industries have been doing for many decades. [For instance, any decently managed restaurant will schedule more (and sometimes more efficient) servers for Friday versus Monday night.] It's not rocket science.....and it should take the airline and airport the same amount of time to process each passenger whether the person arrives one or three hours early.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 8:34 am
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Usually I'm flying out of DEN which means connecting on a domestic airline to an international flight. That means I'll almost certainly have Precheck. Since I usually don't check bags, it the only real variables are:

1) Was I able to check in online?

2) How does the bus schedule from Boulder to DEN work with my flight?

If I'm able to check in online, at least for the first leg, I'll aim for 90 minutes before my flight, rounded to the next-earliest bus arrival. RTD only runs ~hourly buses from Boulder to DEN, other than morning and afternoon when it's roughly every half-hour.

If I'm not able to check in online but I'm in a premium cabin, 90 minutes is still fine. If I'm not in a premium cabin and can't check in online, add 20 minutes.

Add 30 minutes if I want to grab a bite at Root Down before the flight.

Tomorrow I'm flying DEN-YYC departing at 13:25. Flying Westjet, so there's a solid chance I'll have Precheck, and I'm not checking bags. I'd like to be there at noon. The closest bus arrival is at 11:43, which means I'll walk out my door to the bus stop down the street at about 10:30.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 8:50 am
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To be honest, at the major airports where I might be flying out internationally, 2 hours would normally be fine, but with access to a good quality lounge (i.e., usually not a US carrier), I don't mind getting there early in a leisurely, non-stressful fashion and sipping some champagne and getting some good food while getting a little more work done. I now have pre-check and usually some premier access to check-in as well as a low boarding group number, so I don't stand in lines very long in any event. Flying can be stressful, but it doesn't have to be, as I have learned through experience over the years.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 9:24 am
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If the airport has a lounge I like, I usually go 4 hours early and chill out inside until boarding. No lounge though and I go 2 hours early.

I don't check bags and have Nexus so the annoying part takes 15 minutes at max.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 9:26 am
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If it's an international or expensive flight I usually book it departing outside the UK because of the high tax we have to pay flying out of the UK. Typically we'd fly out to Europe the night before and stay at a hotel on the airport.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 9:46 am
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INTL is always business class for me, so I just head out whenever I'm ready and chill out in the lounge. Have some nosh, a drink or two or three, catch up on work stuff, read the paper, etc. More relaxing that worrying about cutting it too close.
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Old Sep 12, 18, 9:51 am
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I usually aim for 1.5-2 hours before but recently have been arriving frequently about 5 mins before check in closes (T-65) for international flights in Y (with status) with checked bags. For domestic from my home airport of CPT if it's very early morning I arrive at the airport 35-45 mins before departure.
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