Key Points about “How early should you be at the airport?”
- Discusses the factors that determine how early to arrive at the airport.
- Provides general guidelines for international and domestic flights.
- Offers advice for passengers with special needs or restrictions.
- Discusses airport security waiting times and procedures.
- Recommends using airport mobile apps for real-time updates.
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For most air travellers, holidays are something they look forward to for a long time. That’s why air travellers don’t want to miss their flight under any circumstances. For example, there can be traffic jams on the way to the airport, check-in takes far too long or the security check once again takes far too much time checking hand luggage. Many air travellers wonder: when do I need to arrive at Stuttgart Airport? At Berlin, or at Hamburg Airport? In this blog, we explain how early you should be at the airport to get the most out of your holiday
How many hours before departure should you be at the airport?
When you’re at the airport waiting for your flight, you may be thinking about other places or enjoying your time. But in reality, doing nothing at the airport is usually just as boring as the flight itself (tips against boredom on the plane). Time at the airport lasts for many hours, and you can’t just go somewhere and rest.
So when is the ideal time to go to the airport? Or how early should you be at the airport? At normal times, airlines recommend that passengers arrive at the airport around two hours before departure. Currently, some airlines are calling for four hours. However, frequent flyers usually do not plan for such a large cushion of time, but are only at the airport 60–90 minutes before departure. However, long walks from the terminal to the gate, or long lines at security checkpoints can easily make you lose 30 to 40 minutes. However, it makes a difference whether your flight is domestic or international. In the case of an international flight, it may be advisable to allow a little extra time for security checks and boarding.
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Below are some important points to consider when deciding how early you should arrive at the airport: At best, you can check some of these requirements on your airline’s website:
- Baggage check requirements: From the loudspeaker announcement; Please leave the check-in hall! / check-in room! No more baggage check-in! / baggage registrations! To avoid such situations, airlines recommend that passengers arrive at the airport on time. Again, it is worth asking the airline about their conditions. In addition, you can also search Google for “baggage check-in requirements”.
- Airport check-in requirements: when you go to the airport, you inevitably think of complicated security requirements. However, the airplane is not only a means of transportation, but also a place of freedom requiring a lot of time and thought. The primary requirement for an airport is that it be safe and provide plenty of space to relax. Similar to baggage check-in, depending on the airline, there is a certain time limit for check-in that must be adhered to. However, this is not too bad if you have already done the check-in online or via smartphone.
- Arriving at the gate: How much time will it take to get from the security system to the gate? If you arrive late at the gate, the airline may deny you boarding. A common practice of airlines is to give your seat to standby customers if you have not checked in on time or should not have gone through security yet.
- Airport rush hour: Monday through Friday at Frankfurt Airport, for example, the rush hour is from 7:00 am to 7:00 pm. The following questions should be considered here: How big is your airport? Will it be rush hour at the airport? Are you traveling during the vacation season? Are you traveling alone or with children? Can traveling with children and family cause delays? Keep in mind that every airport has its rush hours, which can depend on the time of day or even the day of the week. Therefore, check in advance when the peak hours are at your airport. You can find this information on the airport’s website or by using Google search.
How long to be at the airport before departure, without luggage?
As a rule, for flights within the EU, you should be at the airport at least one hour before departure. For long-haul flights, two hours. Most importantly, always follow your airline’s rules. You can shorten the waiting time if you check in online and travel without checked baggage. As mentioned before, if you are flying within Europe, then a time buffer of one hour is enough. If you only have hand luggage and have already checked in, you can basically go directly to security. Here, at times, arriving 30 minutes later is okay.
When do I have to be at the airport if I have checked in online?
Even if you check in online, you have to visit the check-in counters of the respective airline on the day of departure, because that is also where the baggage check-in is located. If you are traveling with carry-on luggage only, you can go directly to the gate after checking in online. At peak times, the hand luggage and security check can take up to an hour. Therefore, plan for a little extra time. For a domestic flight, be ready to board at the gate at least 30 minutes before departure.
How early should I be at the airport for a domestic flight?
If you are flying within Europe, then a time buffer of one hour is sufficient. If you check in online in advance and don’t have to check any luggage, you can be at the airport t 90 minutes for domestic flights. In general, most airlines recommend being at the airport at least two hours before departure. However, keep in mind here that long walks from the terminal to the gate, or long lines at security checkpoints can easily add up to 30 minutes.
How early should I be at the airport for an international flight?
For international flights, the recommendation is to arrive at the airport at least three hours before departure. For flights within the EU, it is recommended to be there at least two hours before. Here, it doesn’t make much difference if you are flying during rush hour or not. In any case, it is well worth it to allow enough time and follow the airline’s recommendations.
Check the checklist before departure
Have you checked off all the boxes on your checklist before you leave? (Suitcase, dimensions and weight, carry-on luggage, travel documents, money, and credit cards).
In the run-up to air travel, sooner or later air travelers ask themselves, “Have I thought of everything?” Detailed preparation is necessary, no matter whether you are flying for the first time or are a frequent flyer. A checklist helps you to think of everything important. Below, we have compiled a handy checklist for you:
- How many suitcases do you want to travel with? (Hand luggage, checked luggage, bag, Travel Backpack)
- How big are the suitcases allowed to be? Permitted dimensions? (Packing suitcases made easy)
- How much can the suitcases weigh? Suitcase not too heavy? Permitted weight?
- Are you aware of the guidelines for liquids? Liquid bag – rules are known?
- Important medications with prescription/pill guidelines for medications.
- No prohibited items? What is allowed in carry-on luggage?
- Are you allowed to take food on the plane?
- Airline tickets with you?
- When do I get my PNR number?
- Identity card, student card (for discounts), and driving licence?
- Identity card and passport (outside the EU, valid for at least 6 months)?
- Visa (outside the EU)?
- Travel and international health insurance?
- Cash, credit card, Maestro card, TANs (online banking)?
- Vaccination certificate and vaccinations required? (certain regions outside the EU)?
- Tickets (train, bus, etc.)?
- House keys, car keys with you?
- Reservations (hotel, Airbnb, other tickets)
- Contact information (hotel, travel agency)
- Emergency contacts and important addresses
- Check your email inbox in case the flight time has been changed. Attention. Flight time can be moved back as well as forward (Tip: What can I do if my flight is changed to be earlier?).
- Copy of above-mentioned documents (in case the wallet is lost)
- Travel guide, hiking maps, etc.
- Mobile phone network abroad / roaming charges / SIM cards
- Electronics (cell phone, laptop, tablet, camera, GoPro, power bank, batteries, chargers, adapters, memory cards, e-book reader, headphones)
- Traveling with infant (bibs, diapers, diaper bag, wet wipes, pacifier / stuffed animal, baby food, drinking; baby food exceptions)
- Also of interest: neck pillow, sleep mask, glasses, sunglasses, pen, biro, books, magazines, card games, entertainment, cookies, something to munch on, refill or purchase water bottle after baggage check.
Brief summary for you – How much earlier should you be at the airport?
It is advisable to be at the airport about two or three hours before departure in order to have enough time for the various check-in processes. This includes, for example, online check-in at Condor, the security check at Munich Airport, and baggage drop-off before the flight. The current waiting times at the security checkpoint at Munich Airport can vary depending on the airline and travel class, so you should definitely allow enough time to avoid stress. Especially if traveling economy class on Air France, you should arrive at the airport early to ensure you can board in time. This applies to both the outward flight and the return flight. At Frankfurt Airport (FRA) Terminal 2, you may want to arrive a little earlier as check-in times there may be longer. Düsseldorf Airport and Munich Airport, allow sufficient time due to the different waiting times at the security checkpoint. It is always advisable to check the current waiting times and check-in times at the airports before travelling, especially if you have a flight with Ryanair.
How can Flightright help you?
You arrived at the airport on time: But your flight is delayed or canceled!
In any of the situations described above, you as a passenger have a right to compensation. This compensation is independent of the ticket price.
According to the EU Passenger Rights Regulation, passengers are entitled to compensation in the event of a delay, cancellation, overbooking, or missed connection. You can claim up to 600 euros of compensation per person (minus commission fee). This compensation is independent of the ticket price. Flightright enforces your right for you. If necessary also in court.
As experts on the subject of air passenger rights, we enforce your right to compensation against the airline! Flightright’s air passenger rights experts are also happy to help you with ticket reimbursements