When do I need to be at the airport?


Every traveler keeps asking how early one should be at the airport before departure. This article gives you tips and will answer the question “How early should I get to the airport?”. You will have enough time before departure and will take off all relaxed. In the end, everything depends on how you organize yourself in advance of your flight.

Check luggage requirements online

If you are also traveling with checked luggage in addition to your hand luggage, you will have to go to your airline counter. This usually means additional waiting times. The queues at the check-in counters are particularly long during peak travel times, such as school holidays, and it is important to bring enough time with you so that you can go through the subsequent security check in a relaxed manner. It is best to check in advance on the internet what luggage requirements the airline has. You can also find recommendations on arrival times at the respective departure airport on the airlines’ website. But it is not only the checked baggage that can consume a lot of time. Make sure your hand luggage conforms to all rules so that it does not attract attention during the security check and does not waste time. A distinction is made between the following 3 scenarios:

Traveling with e-ticket and hand luggage only

With this option you have to plan the least time and can save yourself the long queues at check-in. However, you should never arrive later than an hour before departure, as your hand luggage must still go through security with you. The subsequent ticket check at the gate can also take up to 30 minutes, which is why you are on the safe side with 90 minutes’ notice.

Traveling with checked-luggage and a normal ticket

Checked baggage and arriving at the airport with a regular ticket without having previously used online check-in, usually requires the most time. After arriving at the airport, you first have to queue for check-in, which can be very busy depending on the airline and the time. It makes sense to find out about the peak times at the respective airport in advance online. Allow at least one hour for check-in alone. The next steps are no different from traveling with hand luggage only. Arriving at the airport later than two hours before departure should be avoided for flights with check-in and checked baggage. You also reduce the risk of not getting a seat on an overbooked flight if you are at check-in earlier.

Traveling with online check-in (and baggage drop-off)

If you have already checked in online on your PC or smartphone, you will save a lot of time. The convenient online check-in with the help of your booking number offers various advantages. The seat can be selected and the boarding card digitally saved or printed out. Depending on the provider, fees may apply for the choice of seat. More and more airlines are offering a baggage drop-off counter: Here you can drop off your luggage at a counter if you have already checked in (online) and still need to drop off your luggage.

Arrive in time at the airport: domestic flights vs. international flights

You have to plan the least time for domestic flights. However, delays can also occur here when baggage is checked in. If you have booked an international flight, the time required depends on your travel destination. If you stay in the EU, there are no new time wasters.

If you leave the EU, you must also prepare yourself for further passport controls. You should plan with a difference of around 30 minutes. For this reason, three hours are recommended for flights outside Europe. Arriving earlier gives you more time, which you can use well in the terminal. Work on your laptop, use the gastronomic offer or the numerous shopping offers especially at larger airports like Frankfurt, Düsseldorf or Munich or relax. Everything is better than the stress of rushing to the airport in the shortest possible time and the worry of possibly missing the flight.

Arrive at the airport with enough time in advance: Important Information for your trip

How much earlier you should be at the airport is a matter of luggage and destination. Important information is usually available directly on the website of the airline concerned. As a rule, a flight should be calculated at least two hours before arrival.

Arrive at the gate in time

Many airlines stop boarding the aircraft 30 minutes before departure. It is therefore not possible to board the aircraft until the scheduled departure time. If you arrive late at the gate, you can also miss your flight because the airline has given your space to so-called standby customers. So make sure that you are at the gate in time.

Flight delay or cancelation during the connection flight

In the event of a missed flight, you can claim compensation if you missed it due to a delayed flight. You don’t have to fight for your rights yourself, you can easily have the experts of Captain Frank examine your claim.

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