Smooth Travel Experience: How Early Should I Arrive at the Airport?

Since The Advent Of Mass-Market Commercial Aviation, The Subject Of How Far In Advance Of Departure Time Passengers Should Arrive At Their Departure Airport Has Been A Contentious One.

When They Have A Flight At 2:00 P.M., Some Passengers Arrive At The Airport At The Crack Of Dawn, While Others Frequently Find Themselves In A Race Against The Clock To Get Through Security And To Their Gate In Time Before The Jet Bridge Door Closes.

While Everyone Who Travels By Airplane Has Their Own Set Of Priorities, The Vast Majority Of Passengers Want To Arrive At The Airport In Plenty Of Time To Check In Without Feeling Rushed, But They Also Want To Spend As Little Time As Possible Standing Around Before Their Aircraft Begins Boarding.

As A Result Of This, It Might Be Challenging To Estimate How Much Time You Should Allow For Yourself To Spend At The Airport.

In This Guide, We Will Help You Answer That Question By Breaking Down The Top Elements You Should Consider When Selecting How Early To Travel To The Airport. We Will Accomplish This By Listing The Factors In Ascending Order Of Importance.

As A General Rule, You Should Aim To Arrive At The Airport No Later Than The Following:

The Majority Of Airlines Recommend That Passengers Arrive At The Airport At Least Two Hours Before A Domestic Flight And At Least Three Hours Before An International Departure.

Having Said That, There Are A Lot Of Different Things To Take Into Consideration In Order To Figure Out How Much Time You Should Spend For Waiting At The Airport.

The Most Significant Aspects That Play Into Determining How Much Time You’ll Require To Wait At The Airport

Which Airport Are You Going To Be Departing From?

Although It Is Simple To Ignore, This Aspect Of The Situation Should Not Be Forgotten Because Of Its Significance. Simply Said, If You Are Departing From A Large International Airport, You Should Factor In Additional Time For Yourself In Your Trip Itinerary.

This Is Because Large International Airports Are Typically Much Busier Than Smaller Regional Airports.

Which Type Of Flight (Domestic Or International) Will You Be Taking?

Passengers Flying To An International Location Are Encouraged To Arrive At The Airport Earlier Than Passengers Flying Within Their Own Country.

This Is Due To The Fact That International Flights May Have Additional Check-In Criteria, Such As The Verification Of A Passenger’s Passport, Which Need To Be Fulfilled Before A Passenger Is Issued A Boarding Permit.

In Addition, Because International Planes Are Typically Larger Than Domestic Ones, The Boarding Process For International Flights Typically Begins 15 To 30 Minutes Earlier Than It Does For Domestic Flights.

When Exactly Are You Planning To Do This Trip?

The Time Of Year In Which You Plan To Go Might Have A Significant Bearing On The Level Of Activity At The Airport From Which You Will Be Departing.

For Example, You’ll Notice That The Wait Times For Flights During The Winter Are Substantially Lower Than The Wait Times For Flights During The Summer, Which Is When The Demand For Travel Significantly Increases.

When Exactly Are You Planning To Leave Today?

In A Similar Vein, The Time Of Your Trip Might Also Have An Impact On Whether Or Not You Anticipate The Airport To Be Busy When You Arrive There.

Have You Ever Taken The Time To Notice That The Cheapest Airline Prices Are Typically Found For The Very First And Very Last Flights Of The Day? This Is Due To The Fact That Flights During The Middle Of The Day Are Much More Popular Among Passengers.

Given This, You Should Anticipate The Airport To Be Substantially Busier Throughout The Middle Of The Day With Regard To Flight Departures As Opposed To The Early Morning Or Late Night Departures.

Are You Going On This Trip By Yourself Or With A Group Of People?

When Calculating How Much Time You Need To Allow For Your Trip, You Should Keep In Mind That If You Are Going By Yourself, You Will Be Able To Move Through The Airport A Great Deal More Quickly Than If You Were Traveling With A Large Group Of People, So Plan Accordingly.

It Is Especially Crucial For Families That Are Traveling With Young Children To Keep This In Mind When They Are Traveling.

Do You Have Any Bags That Need To Be Checked?

When You Get At The Airport, If You Choose Not To Check Your Luggage, You Will Be Able To Proceed Directly To The Security Checkpoint, Which Will Save You A Significant Amount Of Time.

Some Airports Include A Self-Check Kiosk, Which Enables Passengers To Check Their Own Luggage And Then Leave Them At The Front Desk When They Are Finished.

However, Airports That Do Not Have A Self-Check Kiosk Will Compel You To Wait In Line With All Of The Other Passengers Who Are Waiting To Check Their Bags At The Same Time. Depending On The Number Of Agents On Duty, These Lines Can Be Fairly Extensive.

Do You Hold An Elite Status With The Airline, Or Do You Have Priority Check-In?

When Passengers Arrive At The Airport, The Amount Of Time It Takes To Check Their Bags Or Check In For Their Flight Can Be Significantly Shortened For Those Passengers Who Have An Elite Status With Their Airline Or Who Have A Co-Branded Airline Credit Card That Allows Priority Check-In.

This Is Due To The Fact That Those Who Possess Elite Status And/Or Priority Check-In Have Access To A Separate Line, Which Effectively Enables Them To Skip Ahead Of Everyone Else Who Is Already Waiting In Line.

Priority Check-In Is A Perk Offered By Both American Airlines And United Airlines To Cardholders Who Have Either The Citi®/Aadvantage® Executive World Elite Mastercard® Or The United Clubsm Infinite Card, Respectively.

This Is Despite The Fact That The Prerequisites For Attaining Elite Status With An Airline Might Differ Greatly Depending On The Carrier.

Have You Been Approved For Tsa Precheck Or Clear?

When You Are At The Airport, Having Tsa Precheck And/Or Clear Is Going To Save You The Absolute Most Amount Of Time Possible. You Are Able To Bypass The Incredibly Long General Security Lines At The Airport By Using Any Of These Two Options.

Here Is A Brief Explanation To Help Clear Up Any Confusion You May Have Regarding The Differences Between Tsa Precheck And Clear.

Tsa Precheck Is A More Streamlined Screening Process That Allows You To Keep Your Laptop And Liquids In Your Luggage While Also Allowing You To Keep Your Shoes On. Additionally, The Lines For Tsa Precheck Are Shorter Than Those For Conventional Security.

On The Other Hand, Using Clear Speeds Up The Element Of The Security Procedure That Involves Checking Ids. After Having Your Identity Confirmed By Clear, You Will Be Allowed To Jump To The Front Of The General Security Queue Or, If You Also Have Tsa Precheck, The Tsa Precheck Line.

The Platinum Card® From American Express, The Business Platinum Card® From American Express, The Centurion® Card From American Express, And The American Express® Green Card Are The Only Credit Cards That Offer A Full Complimentary Clear Membership At This Time.

There Are A Ton Of Credit Cards That Offer A Tsa Precheck Membership As A Card Benefit, But At This Time, These Are The Only Credit Cards That Offer A Full Complimentary Clear Membership.

Are You Going To A Lounge At An Airport?

After You Have Dealt With All Of The Annoying Tasks, Such As Checking Your Luggage And Going Through Airport Security, The Final Major Task That You Might Want To Allocate Some Time For Is A Visit To The Airport Lounge. If You Do This, You Can Relax Before Your Flight.

Access To Airport Lounges Is Without A Doubt One Of Our Favorite Bonuses That Credit Cards Offer Because It Improves The Experience Of Waiting For A Trip By A Huge Amount.

You Will Have A Lovely Space To Relax Where You Can Kick Back, Charge Up Your Devices, And Enjoy Complimentary Food And Drinks (Including Booze, Too!)

While You Wait For Your Flight To Board Rather Than Having To Wait At The Gate Or Overpay For Some Barely Edible Pizza At The Food Court.

When It Comes To Access To Airport Lounges, We Believe That The Greatest Credit Card To Have Is The American Express Platinum Card.

This Card Provides Access To Eight Different Lounge Networks, Some Of Which Include Amex Centurion Lounges, Delta Sky Clubs (When Travelling With Delta), Priority Pass Lounges (Upon Enrollment), And Many Other Lounges.

Having Said That, There Are A Multitude Of Excellent Credit Cards That Provide Access To Airport Lounges.

A Few Parting Thoughts

As You Can See, Although It Is Possible That Arriving At The Airport Between Two And Three Hours Before Your Departure Is A Reasonable General Guideline, There Is No Single Correct Answer To The Question Of How Much Time Passengers Should Budget For Their Stay At The Airport.

Instead, You Should Consider The Specifics Of Each Journey In Light Of The Considerations Given In This Guide, Which Will Help You Make More Informed Decisions.

Having Said That, Individuals Who Are Interested In Significantly Enhancing Their Experience While Traveling Through An Airport Should Think About Adding A Premium Credit Card To Their Wallet.

Many Premium Credit Cards Offer The Ability To Speed Up Airport Security With Tsa Precheck And/Or Clear, As Well As The Opportunity To Relax In An Airport Lounge With The Time That You’ve Saved. This Is A Win-Win Situation.

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