Airport Arrival: How Much Time is Actually Necessary?

Airport Arrival: How Much Time is Actually Necessary?

Travel Guide 2024-02-28

You might be familiar with the commonly known two-hour rule when it comes to arriving at the airport. Many travelers adhere to this rule without fail, and most major airlines even recommend that passengers arrive at least two hours before their flight's departure. However, is the full two-hour wait really necessary? Most airports actually require passengers to check-in within 30 to 60 minutes before the flight and be at the assigned gate 15 minutes before departure. So, should you stick to the safe option and arrive two hours early or opt to arrive a bit later to avoid spending unnecessary time at the gate? The answer to this question depends on your specific travel circumstances.

To simplify matters, you have the option to download the MyTSA application, which offers round-the-clock updates on airport delays, weather conditions, and both current and previous wait times. This resource can assist you in planning ahead. In addition, here are a few other helpful suggestions to help you determine the optimal time to arrive for your upcoming flight. So, why don't we skip the unnecessary delay and go straight to the matter at hand?

So what information do you need to consider in order to select the best time to arrive at the airport?

Season or time of travel

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If you're planning to travel during holidays or long weekends, it's recommended to arrive at the airport at least two hours or more before your scheduled boarding time, even for domestic flights. Recent news reports have highlighted that the 2019 holiday travel season set new records, with the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) experiencing their busiest summer ever. As airports become more crowded, it's certainly wise to arrive early, especially during peak travel periods. According to USA Today, some of the busiest times include New Year's Eve, Mardi Gras, spring break, Easter, Memorial Day, Labor Day, Fridays in the summer, July 4th, and the weeks leading up to Thanksgiving and Christmas.

Size of the airport

Airport sizes can differ significantly, and as a result, wait times can vary as well. For instance, at major airports, such as JFK in New York, it's common and advised to arrive two or three hours before a domestic flight. On the other hand, at smaller regional airports, arriving 60 to 90 minutes before departure is usually sufficient. The processes of parking, baggage, security, and food lines typically move more quickly at smaller airports, requiring less additional time. However, it's important to note that this guideline is only applicable for domestic flights. Regardless of the size of the airport, it's advisable to arrive earlier rather than later for any international flight.

Carrying luggage while traveling

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If you're traveling with luggage that needs to be checked, it's a good idea to allocate an additional 30 to 45 minutes at the airport in case there are long queues for dropping off bags. Keep in mind that airlines have specific deadlines for checking baggage, so make sure to consider that when planning your time. Before you leave, check if your airline provides self-service kiosks. Making use of these kiosks can significantly reduce the time you spend dropping off your luggage. Also, it's important to ensure that your bags do not exceed the weight limits. If you have to remove items from an overweight bag, it will eat up valuable time.

International travel considerations

If you're not acquainted with the airport, it's advisable to arrive early for an international flight. Most airlines have extended time requirements for international travel (sometimes up to three hours), and you usually need to be at the gate 30 to 45 minutes prior to departure for a passport check. Moreover, if you're not present for the final boarding call on an international route, the airline is less likely to hold the plane for you. In such cases, they might remove your luggage and cancel your seat on the flight.

Traveling as part of a group

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Traveling with a group can extend the amount of time you need to spend on your pre-flight preparations. In particular, you will have to wait for everyone to complete their baggage check-in and pass through security. Furthermore, it's probable that someone from the group will want to grab their morning Starbucks, use the restroom, or purchase a forgotten neck pillow. When you combine all these brief stops, you will come to the realization that it considerably adds to your time spent at the terminal. It's advisable to plan to arrive at least two hours before boarding if you're traveling with a large group.

Traveling with children

Traveling with kids can be a source of stress. We all know that waiting in line is not a preferred activity for children, and going through security can be a daunting experience for them. To make the journey smoother, it's advisable to give yourself a two to three-hour buffer before a domestic flight, and three to four hours before an international one, when traveling with children. This will provide ample time for bathroom breaks, snack breaks, searching for that one cherished toy in your carry-on, managing the stroller, and attending to any other needs that may arise with young travelers. By reducing your own stress levels, everyone can have a more enjoyable trip, so aim to arrive early!

Regular air traveler

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If you're a frequent flier and familiar with the airport or have TSA PreCheck, there is no need for you to arrive two hours before your domestic flight. For those seeking a more convenient way to navigate the airport, enrolling in TSA PreCheck allows you to bypass long security queues. This program offers a five-year membership costing $85, and it can significantly reduce your security wait time to as little as five minutes.

Upgrade your airport experience: save big with PNA's smart parking choices!

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Have you ever heard something about off-site parking? If not, we recommend you take a closer look at this part of the article, as this information will be handy for those who prefer to travel by air and get to the airport by their own car.

Most people suppose that parking at the airport is the fastest and most convenient option for them. However, it's not actually true. We'll explain to you why.

To be true, being in a terminal parking lot isn't convenient at all. Although on-site airport parking is the nearest place where you can leave your vehicle for the period of a trip, you can face the following difficulties:

  • You will need to find a spot in a crowded lot,
  • You will need to carry the luggage all the way through the parking lot,
  • You must pay expensive fees without great service.

Sounds not good, right? However, we found an excellent solution for you – in this case, off-site parking can become a savior for you. So if you're trying to find a parking spot with great service nearby the airport you're flying from and don't want to leave there the most significant part of your budget, pay attention to this option.

How does it work?

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Obviously, people who chose a car as a way to get to the airport want to leave their vehicle safely while traveling and not to face the problems we described above. So what can off-site airport parking offer its customers?

Although a few miles usually separate such parking from the airport, you shouldn't worry about this. Off-site parking provides free shuttles going back and forth between the parking lot and the airport. Thanks to this, it removes any worries about getting stuck in traffic on the way to the airport during peak times. So all you need to do is choose the best time for you and inform the parking lot staff.

How does it work? Actually, everything is straightforward: when you come to the entrance, the staff will remove your luggage from your car and load it onto the shuttle, which will take you and your bags to the terminal. Then, the vehicle will be parked securely.

In addition, this type of parking is much cheaper, and this is good news, as nobody wants to waste money. Therefore, off-site parking is the perfect option to receive excellent service and save money at the same time.

Want to find some great offers? You don't need to go somewhere – just find it right here!

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We're glad to inform you that you can find this solution right here. Our booking platform,, offers the best prices on airport car parking and bundles hotel and parking packages. Besides, we provide the services for top cruise ports in Florida, Louisiana, Maryland, New Jersey, and Texas.

Our platform allows you to reserve a parking spot through a few clicks within the application. As a result, customers receive a booking confirmation and a guaranteed parking spot upon arrival at the off-airport lot. Besides, if plans change, you can cancel hassle-free and receive a refund.

To understand it better, we would like to give you an example. Let's imagine that you live in Newark, New Jersey, USA. If you're planning a trip to Canada, you can use the services of cheap EWR valet parking. If you're coming from San Jose, California, the situation is the same – you can choose affordable parking near San Jose Airport. So it just depends on the place you're flying from.

Also, offers its customers special airport parking coupons. With the help of these coupons, you can make the price for parking even two times less. So don't forget to use them to save as much money as possible.

You can find all the necessary and helpful information connected with the off-site airport parking on our official website. Enjoy traveling!