Flying has become one of the most stressful things a traveler encounters. Between steep airline fees, checked baggage fees and the risk of delayed and/or cancelled flights, many passengers find flying to be an inconvenience. However, despite the inconvenience, hundreds of thousands of passengers fly every day and want to know how early to arrive at the airport.
Airport check in times are dependent on a number of factors; this includes the airline on which you are traveling, the destination to which you are going and the airport from which you are departing. To know when to arrive at the airport, you need to check with your airline and the airport from which you are departing; this is the most foolproof method to ensure you know exactly what time you need to arrive.
As far as checked luggage goes, there is a cutoff time during which airlines will no longer accept your luggage. You likely know that you have to arrive at the airport in the time allotted to catch your flight, but you must also arrive prior to your airline's baggage cutoff times as well.
Most major airlines require that you check your luggage t least 30 minutes prior to departure; if you attempt to check your luggage with less than 30 minutes to departure you will not be permitted to do so. This rule applies to most major airlines, but each airline has exceptions to the rule. If you are traveling internationally you must check your luggage at least 60 minutes prior to departure. Again, every airline has exceptions.
Additionally, the airport from which you depart has its own rules regarding your checked luggage. There are a few airports that require you check your luggage in accordance with their checked luggage cutoff times, rather than following your airline's checked baggage cutoff times. For more information you must check with the airport from which you are departing.
Major airlines such as Delta Airlines, American Airlines, United Airlines, JetBlue and Southwest Airlines require that passengers check their luggage 30-40 minutes or more before departure for domestic flights and 60 minutes or more for international flights. Passengers departing on any of these airlines out of Chicago, Orlando, New York, Los Angeles, Las Vegas, San Francisco, Atlanta, Dallas, Miami and other major airports must check their luggage with additional time before departure; some of these airports require you check baggage at least 40 minutes, 45 minutes or 60 minutes prior to departure.
Each individual airline is free to make its own decisions regarding domestic and international checked luggage cutoff times; however, airports that require more time to get luggage to airplanes can make changes to that rule. To ensure that you know the correct airport check in time, check with your departure airport prior to departure. Knowing when to arrive at the airport can make the difference between your luggage coming with you on your flight or being left behind. How early to arrive at the airport is dependent on your airline's regulations, but it is always a wise choice to check the airport's policies as well.