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Old Sep 7, 08, 1:22 pm   #1
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How early do I need to arrive at the airport?

I'm taking an international flight in Oct originating IAD, but there is a connection at LAX first.

Can I follow the 1 hour domestic window or should I use the 2 hour international window?
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Old Sep 7, 08, 1:27 pm   #2
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Choose the timeframe that gives the most flexibility in case of any "Oops!"
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Old Sep 7, 08, 2:02 pm   #3
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The response is an absolutely, positively...it depends.

Do you have status on the airline and have expedited check-in, baggage checking, security lines?

Are you flying first thing Monday morning or last thing Thursday or Friday? (Senators gotta go home sometime)

I also fly from a hub (DEN), and two hours for international is always more than enough for me. I am a 1K with a Clear card. Sometimes premiers in DEN can have a 10-15 minute wait through security.
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Old Sep 7, 08, 4:51 pm   #4
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IAD-LAX: Domestic
LAX-International: International

When you are checking in, you about to board a domestic flight. Regardless it doesn't hurt to do so 2 hrs ahead of schedule unless you have a tight schedule that day. It never hurts to be earlier to be safer.
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Old Sep 7, 08, 9:13 pm   #5
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I'm not a frequent flyer so I arrive as early as I can; if you have the time, arrive early you never know if they cancel your flight and need a re-route or there are a gazillion other passangers stranded due to something that may do check-in slow etc... Worst case scenario, you may ask politely to the agents for a better seat or whatever...

As the other says, it depends on a lot of factors which may make your comfortable 1 hour into a fearful one...
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Old Sep 8, 08, 2:24 am   #6
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Originally Posted by Rejuvenated View Post
IAD-LAX: Domestic
LAX-International: International
It depends on the airport too. For example, flying United LAX-SFO-International would require you to check in at the international counter and you're subject to that queue. One hour is definitely not enough for the statusless economy passenger at LAX-UA Intl. However, if it's my neighborhood airport (PMD) which flies 30-seaters into SFO, there is but one line and I'm not going there 2 hours early. All the agent needs to do extra is a document (passport) check.

I don't know how the check-in works at IAD, but that will give you the answer.

Last edited by HkCaGu; Sep 8, 08 at 2:24 am Reason: forgot to add UA
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Old Sep 8, 08, 3:29 am   #7
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I am not a frequent flier, but do like to go from BDL to HKG once or twice a year. There is always a layover and I absolutely would never be comfortable with a one hour layover. With such a short window of time, any kind of delay of even a few minutes could cause you to miss your connection. With some padding, you won't have to rush.
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Old Sep 8, 08, 3:57 am   #8
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All I can say is that one time, due to 9/11 related events, AA bought us tickets to get to NYC. They escorted us to the Admiral's club. They catered to our needs and assured everything.

We had to be escorted thru a special security to get to the gate.
But at the gate, where those who brought us were now no longer with us, everything changed.

Some new rule stated that you had to be standing there 15 mins before the doors would close or you were not in the flight. We must have gotten to the check in person at 15.5 mins because she wasn't going to let us on the plane! Doors were still open and behind where she was standing was a giant clock. You could clearly see the time and we had time--as it turns out, I recall it being AT LEAST 20 mins!... I begged her to merely turn around and LOOK at the freakin' clock. She refused and would not let us on. When I got upset, security stepped in. Ultimately, they made us get on the next flight.

I called the airline and I think she got fired. I think this because I got a few calls from exec offices asking repeatedly what exactly took place and who was who, and they kept apologizing as they found out about how the airline had sponsored this whole trip for us anyway. In short, while I'm not at status with the airline, that day were were VIPs and the lady at check in totally screwed up.

Nevertheless, most international check ins require 3hrs+ even if part 1 is domestic. Not always the case, but I find it increasingly true and hey, these days, it can't hurt--so long as you have a laptop or a book and either don't travel with little kids or have lots of children's drugs . Always get there early, be there at the gate early, be the first person and be sure to take names and keep details.
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Old Sep 8, 08, 2:50 pm   #9
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Originally Posted by fasttimes View Post
I'm taking an international flight in Oct originating IAD, but there is a connection at LAX first.

Can I follow the 1 hour domestic window or should I use the 2 hour international window?
If you have baggage to check, or cannot get your boarding passes from the web, you'll want to arrive 2-3 hours before flight time in either case, since checkin lines can be long. Check the airline web site for more details.
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Old Sep 8, 08, 5:06 pm   #10
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I fly out of MCI and rarely give them 2 hours. Only 2 things slow down international check-in when your first leg is domestic from what I can see- first, AA doesn't let me check in on-line for international flights, so I need to make sure I'm not there so late my seat is given to a standby. Second, an employee needs to check your passport and, if you're going someplace that requires it, your visa. I was once encouraged to use the check-in kiosk at MCI for an international flight and-surprise- at one point it stopped dead so an employee could verify my passport.

In general, my answer would depend on how crowded your originating airport tends to be at your departure time. If there are nightmarish "security" queues, get there early, domestic or not. MCI is a gem in that respect.
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Old Sep 9, 08, 4:22 pm   #11
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Minimum 2 hours~

This incident happened just this morning.

My parents were headed to Asia this morning. Of course they had to go to Atlanta first. Their flight from Orlando was supposed to depart at 8:00 A.M. They arrived at the airport at 6:00 A.M. since they had a lot of luggage to check and knew they had to wait in line to check-in and also deal with TSA.

Their original flight, for some reason, was delayed for an hour, which would have given them 37 minutes to catch their connecting International flight. Luckily, there was a 7:00 A.M. flight to Atlanta and they had arrived early enough to get on that flight, which they did, and they are currently en route to Asia.

If you are going on an international flight (especially those that require connections), get to the airport an hour early.

For domestic flights I get to the airport 45 minutes prior when I know the airport has a "CLEAR" lane. If not, I get their an hour early with a printed boarding pass and a carry on.

If you are traveling on a busy day, at a busy hour (Monday morning, Thursday or Friday evening) from a busy airport (Atlanta, Chicago, LAX) and don't have a boarding pass and need to check luggage, then give yourself an hour and a half. Better safe than sorry!

Safe Travels!
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Old Sep 9, 08, 4:35 pm   #12
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In 2004 we arrived at AUS about 1:15 before an AUS-DTW-FCO trip on NW. There were 4 of us in paid J. The NW agent was not going to check us in because we had missed the 90 minute cutoff for an "international" checkin. Fortunately common sense prevailed, but she made it clear she was doing us a favor.

Then again, it's a typical NW ticketing agent story. AUS is now staffed by contractors, who are more friendly and efficient than the NW employee agents were.
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Old Sep 9, 08, 5:16 pm   #13
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Originally Posted by fasttimes View Post
I'm taking an international flight in Oct originating IAD, but there is a connection at LAX first.
If it's an international flight, the agent can certainly reinforce the 2-hr check-in for international on you, even though there's a domestic portion in your itinerary. Not sure which airline/s you are flying. Would you have to check in again in LAX?

Your question reminded me an old thread with some interesting discussion on the 2-hr check-in requirement: Why 2 hour check in for international?
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