Flight Check-in Times
Traveling to any destination, local or international, requires a prior preparation. One key area of air travel preparation is knowledge of the check-in times corresponding to your flight departure. This is the time in which you need to be in the airport, before security, and if you haven't performed an online check-in prior, you will need to either visit an airline kiosk or your airline check-in counter before proceeding to the security checkpoint.
Every airline has its own set of rules regarding the deadline for passengers to check-in before each flight, that also differ between airports (for example at Phoenix PHX vs Portland PDX, or Twin Cities MSP vs Oakland OAK). Check-in deadlines for flights usually lie between 30 to 60 minutes before boarding. These deadlines allow airline authorities to load the luggage onto the plane, and get all passengers boarded prior to pushback.
Further, it also provides some time for offering the potential unclaimed seats to stand-by passengers, dole-out those valuable upgrades, as well as to finalize the documentation for take-off.
It is also important to consider weather alerts before leaving for the airport. This will ensure that you do not wait if your flight gets delayed. Airline authorities try their level best to predict weather conditions so that they can reschedule the flights accordingly and also inform their passengers in advance in case of any changes.
The airline and airport ground staff does their best to make sure that there is minimum discomfort to the passengers who are affected due to the rescheduling of the flights.
Check-in timings also depend on whether you have baggage or not.
Flights within the U.S.
For all flights that fly within the U.S, including Hawaii, the Virgin Islands, and Puerto Rico, the check-in timings are 90 minutes for those passengers who are carrying baggage with them and 60 minutes for those who are without baggage.
Further, check-in times for flights that are departing from Hawaii, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin islands towards the U.S are two hours before the departure.
Flights Outside the U.S.
International flights outside the U.S. to any destination generally require passengers to check-in two hours ahead of time before their scheduled flight departure.
Further, some destinations like France, Haiti, and India require the passengers to arrive and register more than three hours prior to their flight. This allows the passenger to complete all the necessary international travel requirements comfortably before the flight. Check with your airline to best understand their policies.
Passengers traveling to the U.S from other countries
All those passengers who are traveling to the U.S from other countries are required to check-in with their baggage 120 minutes prior to the process of departure. Further, all flyers connecting on flights via the U.S must first go through customs upon arrival into the U.S., and then claim their bags at the baggage counter before boarding the connecting flights. Note that some non-U.S. airports like London's Heathrow have U.S. customs located at the airport/ Moreover, the passengers who are connecting to other countries must confirm the country's immigration requirements and procedures to find out if baggage needs to be rechecked on arrival to the said country.
Travel with reserved seats
Travelers with reserved seats should check-in online, at the airline counter, or use a kiosk at least an hour before the departure of the flight. This will help to avoid the risk of their seats being canceled because of late arrival.
Passengers with baggage
Passengers carrying baggage should be familiar with all the baggage check-in requirements of the airlines in which they are traveling. They should drop off their luggage no later than the time specified by the airline.
All passengers must get ready for boarding the plane 20-40 minutes before departure. This means that individual and baggage submission should be completed at least 30-50 minutes before the scheduled departure time.
Passengers with minors
Passengers accompanied by minors need to have air carrier authorization forms with them to show at the security checkpoints. Further, the documents for the verification of the age of minors are also required by the airlines.
It is important here to note that unaccompanied minors attract special rates that differ among airlines. The adult should find out all the requirements for child passengers and meet them before the scheduled time of the flight to avoid delays.
In addition, travelers flying with minors or intending for minors to travel alone must call the airline to find out what is required before the date of the flight.
Passengers are required to have their boarding pass as well as an identification document like a passport, identification card, or driver's license, prior to boarding.
- The boarding time of the flights is usually between 30 minutes to an hour before the scheduled take-off.
- Your boarding pass indicates the time the flight will start boarding.
- Flights that tend to board in shifts might call the passengers by rows or even by groups. Your boarding pass will specify your row, zone, or group.
- For domestic travelers, a good rule is to arrive 2 hours prior to departure, and for international flights, it is 3 hours. Normally International flights start the boarding process between 45 minutes to 1 hour prior to departure time.