How early should you get to the airport?

You may be surprised at how early you need to be at the airport to catch a flight.

Timing your trip to the airport

With daily queues at airports stretching longer each year, processing passengers and their luggage is also becoming increasingly time-consuming, so make sure you give terminal staff enough time to do their jobs.

That means arriving at the recommended times, which for us may seem rather early, but are in fact very reasonable for those trying to help us off on our holiday destinations.

Those travelling to an international destination need to arrive at the airport two hours before a scheduled flight and one hour before a domestic flight.

Tigerair requests domestic passengers arrive 90 minutes ahead of a flight.

These recommended times are a minimum. In the aftermath of a security scare, such as the one in Sydney last year, where a man had allegedly threatened to blow up a plane, passengers are asked to arrive at airports even earlier, because of extra security screening.

You might be able to save a little time if you don’t have luggage to check in or if you check in online ahead of arriving at the airport. But be aware that there are often unexpected hitches and unforseen circumstances that may delay you getting onboard on time.

Also, if you decide to leave your vehicle at a long-stay car park, you must include extra time to travel to the terminal by shuttle bus – for which you may have to wait several minutes.

At some of the larger airports, be aware that you may have to walk a good deal from one end of the terminal or across a number of terminals to your check-in area. Also, there can be quite long walking distances of up to 10 minutes or so from the point that you leave check-in to your boarding gate.

Other time-consuming considerations to take into account are any shopping you might want to do, meals you might want to have, the long queues for check-in desks, security, money changers, and even for the public toilets.

Wheelchairs and prams need to be checked in, so allow extra time to hire them if you need them before your flight.

Then there is always a chance you may be unlucky to lose something or leave it behind at a shop and need to backtrack to pick it up.

Have you ever missed a flight by not arriving early enough at the airport? What unexpected delay held you up at an airport? Do you have any tips for reducing time-wasting ahead of boarding a flight?



    To make a comment, please register or login
    7th Apr 2018
    I cant keep up with the way our language is changing. A "90 minutes before a flight" has now become" 90 Minutes ahead of a flight" (above) Surely if this is about being on time, everyone has to say it in the same way....This is just not German
    7th Apr 2018
    I always advance request a wheelchair & special dietary request for my flight.

    I check in online, then the only thing I need to do is bag drop and then head to the Smart Gate & then onto security where I request to be body scanned - I've had both my knees replaced and the scanner doesn't pick them up - only picks up anything on the outside of the body.

    I'd never have any more cash on me than what I require when I land eg GBP 100. The rest of my funds are on my cards, which can contain as much as $25,000. I still carry a small amount of AU$.

    If you're travelling Business or First class, then you more than likely will have special check-in and security lines available to you, then you go to the lounge and await your call for boarding.
    7th Apr 2018
    One of the reason's I don't fly, takes all day when you live in a rural area. Then not all of us can afford to travel so far from home.

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