Timing is everything, and arriving at the airport on time is crucial if you want to make your flight. Some flyers will arrive at the airport hours before liftoff, others hit the arrival time perfectly, and then some cut the arrival time a little too close, running through the airport breathless just before take-off. There are a few factors to consider when it comes to the ideal time to get to the airport, including the size of the departure airport as well as how busy it is, check-in requirements, and the time of day or year you are flying out. How early should you get to the airport? Here are some recommendations and tips to help you arrive at the answer to the question.


Get to the Airport 2 Hours Ahead of Departure Time for a Domestic Flights

For short-haul flights/domestic flights, the general rule is to arrive at the airport 2 hours before your flight’s departure time. If you do this, you’ll put yourself in an excellent position to move through security checks and to the boarding gate without having to rush. Maybe you left home without eating, and if you allow yourself two hours to get to the airport, you could grab something to eat and sit and relax for a bit before departure. If you are checking in a bag for your domestic flight, get to the airport early because the drop-bag lines could be much longer than you had anticipated or even thought about. Remember, boarding usually starts 45 minutes before take-off, with boarding gates closing roughly 30 minutes ahead of the scheduled departure time.


Get to the Airport 3 Hours Ahead of Departure Time for an International Flights

An international or long-haul flight shouldn’t be treated as a domestic flight. Before your scheduled departure time, show up at the airport three hours before your flight. You want to avoid rushing at the last minute just to make your flight. Give yourself some extra time to get checked and make it to the boarding gate. If you are traveling internationally for the first time, traveling with kids, or require wheelchair assistance or some other kind of assistance to get to the gate. It’s not entirely unusual for a plane to leave 10 minutes early before the scheduled departure time.


Get to the Airport Earlier For COVID Checks Without the Rush

You may possibly have to get to the airport early for a COVID check. This is in addition to the standard pre-pandemic airport procedures, like flight check-in, bag check, and moving through security. The rules around COVID as they relate to travel tend to change rapidly, so it’s important to check with your airline about the proper guidelines and regulations. You may find that you need to present a negative Covid test at check-in before you can board the plane for your flight or present proof of vaccination. With Covid requirements, lines can be longer than normal, so allow yourself enough time for Coivd checks. 


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