One of the most common questions in traveling: how early should I arrive at the airport? Unless you like dealing with risks, it is still better to give yourself some extra time. In this week’s column, I would like to share some of the tips on the best time to arrive at the airport for international flights. There was actually a bit of media fervor about the airport arrival times a month ago when Jordan Ellenberg’s new book, How not to be Wrong: The Power of Mathematical Thinking, was released. Here, the bandwagon embraced the notion that travelers have to arrive as late as possible since every extra moment at airport is a moment of wastage. This actually triggers larger existential questions about the nature of time, the value of any moment, and also the way we perceive our existing circumstances. However, we do not have the time for delving into that there. We do have the time actually, what we do not have is the inclination.
To be fair to Jordan Ellenberg, his very notion is slightly more nuanced. He realizes that some people prefer less risk; when they push their late arrivals way too far, the advantageous utility of more time in bed, on the bay, or at the café can be nullified by stress. In the end, suggestions about when to arrive at the airport is more of a recommendation that a rule.
Here, let me show you some of the common recommendations on the best time to arrive at the airport for international flight and domestic flight.
For domestic flight at major airport, if you have some bags to check, you need to get there a couple of hours early; if you have no bags to check, then you had better make it 90 minutes. On the other hand, if you are on regional airports-something like Bozeman, MT-you can save it to even 90 minutes or even sixty minutes. If you are planning to fly on busy days, you may want to add one hour. For international flights, you had better get 3 hours before your departure.
Some other things to take into account
Here, there are some miscellaneous points that you need to ponder. How busy is the departure airport? You need to review your airline’s guidelines and then also check-in the requirements. For instance, Delta states that the minimum baggage check-in time in Istanbul is about three and a half hours. You must be at the gate about half an hour before your departure. Is it in the busy time of the year? Do you possess the access to faster lines due to mileage status, pre-screening, or first-class ticket? Are you planning to travel with a family of four or five? What will it cost if you all missed the flight? If you like playing with risks, you need to know how restrictive your airline or ticket is. You might need to read the fare regulations which are associated with your ticket so as to determine this.