Are you usually that person at the airport running to the gate, or are you the eager traveler who hangs around the gates for hours before takeoff? If you have ever done either of the two, you have probably wondered how long before you have to be at the airport, in…
Airlines offer a general rule of thumb for average flights, but in reality, there is no single answer to this question.
The time you will need to get to your boarding gate will depend on the airport, time of day and destination. Here's how much time you should allow for billing and security, and how to know when you should add (or subtract) more time.
Domestic flights: How long before do you have to be at the airport?
According to the TSA, you must arrive at the airport two hours before your domestic flight. This will give you time to park your car, access the terminal, check-in and go through security, according to the TSA.
If you skip any of those steps (for example, if you've already checked in online) and are heading to a medium-sized airport, consider saving yourself half an hour.
If you check in online (the vast majority of low-cost airlines allow it, Ryanair, Vuelgin, etc.) and do not check in your suitcase, you can save an hour, but make sure that the airline and the airport allow online check-in.
Also consider giving yourself a little more time if you're flying early in the morning: airports tend to be less crowded before 9:00, and some may not even be fully operational if you show up before 6: 00, especially if they are not a busy airport.
Two hours may seem like enough time, but you may want to add about 30 minutes more, depending on the airport and time of year. The big ones Air Hubs of the big cities and capitals of the world like London, NY, Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta (busiest US), Bangkok, Tokyo, Dubai, etc. It can take up to 45 minutes to cross the airport, even on slow days.
And during busy holidays, it's wise to add an hour to the airports in these big cities.
International flights: How long before do you have to be at the airport?
For international travel, the TSA says you must arrive at the airport three hours before your flight. This is especially true for trips back to the US, as customs pre-checks abroad can mean double the amount of security checks, which can result in long lines even at off-peak times.
Security and customs agents cannot be rushed, and there is no guarantee that any agent will put you at the front of the line if you get close to departure time. You are also less likely to be able to check-in online or get a mobile boarding pass depending on which country.
In Europe and Asia, for long international flights, it is also recommended to arrive at the airport 3 hours in advance.
Rush hours and busy airports
If you are flying during peak hours (9 a.m. to 6 p.m.), on a weekend, or through a busy airport, err on the side of leaving too much time.
Sitting in the terminal or having a snack is a much smaller price than missing a flight.
To calculate how much time before you need to be at the airport, rely on TSA-recommended times rather than airline suggestions: the latter have much less to lose, and perhaps even something to gain, if you miss your flight. . The TSA is interested in maintaining order at the airport by helping you stay on schedule.
Budget extra time at the following airports. All of them are among the busiest in the world, or have Customs prior control abroad– which adds extra queues at your departure airport (but saves you time once you've landed).
- New York (JFK)
- Atlanta (ATL)
- Chicago (ORD)
- Los Angeles (LAX)
- Dallas (DFW)
- Paris (CDG)
- Aruba (AUA)*
- St. George, Bermuda (BDA)*
- Bahamas (NAS and FPO)*
- London Heathrow (LHR)
- Abu Dhabi (AUH)*
- Dublin, Ireland (DUB)*
- Canada (YYC, YEG, YHZ, YUL, YOW, YYZ, YVR, YWG)*
- Tokyo Haneda (HND)
- Dubai (DXB)
- Athens, Greece (ATH)
- Moscow, Russia (DME)
*Starred airports have US Customs pre-screening locations.
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I am a passionate traveler with an innate desire to discover the world. To date, I have had the privilege of visiting 31 countries and most of them have left an indelible mark.
During my travels, I have gained valuable knowledge on how to travel efficiently. I have perfected itinerary planning, accommodation selection, and making the most of each experience. I am proud to share my tips and tricks with you so that you can enjoy hassle-free and unforgettable trips.
On this blog, you'll find a carefully curated selection of destinations, practical tips, and honest reviews of hotels and tourist attractions. My goal is to inspire you and provide you with useful resources so that you can plan your own adventures with confidence and peace of mind.
May travel fill you with joy and open you up to new possibilities!