How Early Must The Airport Check-in Be Done?
Posted on Apr 29th, 2022 by Heena Ganotra, Last updated on May 26th, 2022
It is important to know the timings for international or domestic flight check-in when you plan your journey. Rushing through the door at the last minute and fearing you’ll be too late isn’t a pleasant start to any journey. The check-in times can change depending on the airport, flight, and destination. For example, the check-in and security process is longer for international flights.
With travel picking up after extended lockdowns and pandemic-induced slump, everyone is rushing towards different domestic and international tourist destinations. In your eagerness to get away from home for some time, don’t forget to check the latest updates. We have a detailed guide to help you arrive on time.
When Should You Arrive At the Airport?
This depends on the airport and most will have a specific requirement. We recommend visiting the airport’s website for more precise information on the matter. Larger and more popular airports may require passengers to arrive earlier than the standard time.
However, the general rule of thumb for arriving at the airport is as follows:
1. When to Get to Airport for Domestic Flight?
If you’re boarding a domestic flight in Australia, we recommend arriving at the airport around 1 to 2 hours before departure time. This will give you enough room to check your baggage in, get your boarding pass, and board before the gate closes. You can cut down the time a little by going through a web or online check-in.
But even if you get through web check-in, arriving early is a good idea because going through security and checking baggage in can take time.
Check-in timings for domestic flights typically start 2 hours before the departure time.
2. When Does Check-In Close For Domestic Flights?
The check-in counters close around 30 minutes before departure. The gate closing time is often around 15-30 minutes before departure, depending on the carrier, airport, and destination.
Again, it is important to remember that counters for certain flights in certain airports may close earlier. Before you plan your schedule, double-check the details on your carrier and airport’s website to avoid delays.
3. What is the International Check-In Time in Australia?
The international flight check-in process is a bit more complicated than domestic check-in. You need to go through security, subject international travel papers, check-in baggage, and more. The time can also vary from one destination to another, which is why it is a good idea to get the particular details from your airport or carrier’s website.
In general, passengers are expected to arrive around 2 to 3 hours before their scheduled departure. In some busy airports, travellers are encouraged to arrive 3-4 hours before departure. Check the departure time of flights and add at least 3 hours to plan your schedule.
International check-in time typically starts 3 hours before departure. It can start 4 hours before departure in some airports and for some destinations.
4. When Does Check-In Close For International Flights?
The check-in usually closes around 90 minutes before the scheduled departure time. Gate closes approximately 30 to 40 minutes before the departure time. Even if you have carried out web check-in, we recommend arriving at least two hours before departure to get through everything.
If your domestic flight is departing from an international airport, consider following the international airport check-in guidelines. Yes, it may mean arriving a little too early and waiting for a long time, but it is better to be safe than sorry.
When to Arrive at the Airport Extra Early?
Sometimes it is best to err on the side of caution and arrive a little bit earlier than required. While the timings mentioned above are standard, we recommend adding 30 to 60 minutes to your schedule if you’re dealing with the following situations:
- You have excessive or oversized bags to check in.
- You’re travelling with children or infirm elderly.
- You have special needs like a wheelchair or medical equipment.
- You wish to drop off an unaccompanied minor.
In addition to the standard international and domestic airport departure procedure, you may also need to deal with the procedures set to improve safety during the pandemic. Passengers may need to submit additional paperwork, go through temperature checks, and will have fewer kiosks and counters to serve them.
Calculating the Time to Arrive At the Airport Before Flight
When you calculate the time to arrive at the airport before a flight, we recommend considering the boarding time. Boarding will close at a specific time before the flight is scheduled to depart. You will not be allowed to board the flight if you’re late even if the slight is parked by the gate and still clearly able to accept passengers.
The boarding time usually ends 30 minutes to an hour before departure depending on the nature of the flight. Always keep this in mind when you plan, especially for international flights.
Check-In for Domestic Flights – Popular Carriers
While check-in times can be similar for most carriers, it is a good idea to look consider the specifics. Here’s a look at the domestic flight check-in time of some of Australia’s most popular carriers:
1. Qantas Domestic Check-In Times
Qantas closes its check-in counters 30 minutes before the scheduled departure time on all its domestic flights. The company recommends passengers complete the process 45 minutes before departure to avoid last-minute problems.
The gate closes 15 minutes before departure and the airline will not allow passengers to board if they arrive after the 15-minute leeway.
The Qantas domestic baggage check-in time is typically two to three hours before the flight departure time. The counter will open and start accepting baggage check-in early to ensure everyone can properly check in.
2. Qantas International Check-In
The airport check-in times for international flights start around 24 hours before departure online and close 90 minutes before departure. It is recommended that you check in at least 2 hours before your flight.
The boarding gate is closed around 30-40 minutes before the flight depending on the plane, airport, and destination.
Qantas bag drop is open around 3 hours before departure and can be open 4 hours before the flight in some airports.
3. Jetstar Check-In Times for Domestic Flights
Jetstar is also a popular airline in Australia. The Jetstar check-in times for domestic is 30 minutes before the departure time. It is best to complete the entire process 45 minutes before the departure time.
Jetstar gate close time is 15 minutes before departure. We recommend looking at the early morning departure times carefully. Depending on the airport timing, the baggage drop will open a little later.
Bag drop for Jetstar begins two to three hours before departure depending on the airport you’re set to depart from. For example, the baggage counters for Jetstar domestic flights departing from international terminals open 3 hours before departure.
4. Jetstar Check-In Time for International Flights
Check-in at the airport begins around 2-3 hours before the departure for Jetstar International Flights. The specific timings for different destinations are mentioned below:
- Jetstar JQ International Boeing 787 – Check-in and baggage drop start 3 hours before departure. Check-in and baggage are closed 60 minutes before departure. Jetstar boarding time is between 40 minutes to 15 minutes before departure.
- Jetstar JQ and Jetstar Japan International Flights via A330 and A321 aircraft – Check-in and baggage drop start 3 hours before departure. Check-in and baggage are closed 45 minutes before departure. Boarding time is between 40 minutes to 15 minutes before departure.
- Jetstar Asia 3K Flights – Check-in and baggage drop start 2 hours before departure. Check-in and baggage are closed 45 minutes before departure. Jetstar boarding time is between 40 minutes to 10 minutes before departure.
The Jetstar baggage drop-off time for international flights at specific destinations can be different. We recommend looking at the timings for your departure and arrival city specifically before making plans.
This is all you need to know about how early you need to arrive at an airport for your domestic or international flight. If you plan your schedule well, you should be able to go through the entire process without any stress or delays.
Q. How long before a flight to arrive at an airport?
Ans. We recommend 2-3 hours for domestic and international flights respectively. Add around 30 minutes more due to the pandemic precautions.
Q. What if I arrive too early?
Ans. It can happen and it isn’t a bad thing. Most airports have lounges, cafes, and restaurants you can relax in as you wait for the baggage and check-in counters to open. If you arrive too early and the airport itself is closed, there should be a food court or some seats outside the airport where you can relax until the airport opens.
Q. What if I arrive after the gate closes?
Ans. If you arrive after the gate closes, the plane will live without you. It is rare for airlines to make exceptions in this case. They run on a tight schedule and even the smallest delays can cause a chain reaction and create more problems down the line.
Most airlines will also give your seat to other last-minute passengers because they don’t want the seat to go empty.
Q. Why do I need to arrive early?
Ans. The flight boarding process has several steps, whether you travel internationally or domestically. You need to check in and get the boarding pass, check your baggage into the baggage drop, go through security checks, go through the boarding gate, and the crew needs to conduct several pre-flight checks before the flight can safely leave. All of these processes take time, which is why it is important to arrive at the airport early.
Phew, that seems like a lot of information for a check-in!
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About Heena View All Posts
A writer by both passion and profession, Heena Ganotra is "half agony, half hope" but all heart. And oh, she has been a book lover from the start! Her love for books is what convinced her to make a career in the wonderful world of words. She loves what she does and is out-and-out a satisfied soul with a wish to spread happiness like herpes. Insight- Some say she is living the best life anyone could because she reads, writes, travels, and makes merry. They’re right because what else does one really need! 🙂