How Early to Arrive at the Airport and Other Vital Tips for Pre-Boarding
If you are not a frequent flyer or even worse, you are a first time flyer, being in the airport can be a bit overwhelming and disorienting. People are moving fast in different directions, with a lot of overcrowded lines and a lot of rules which you need to follow from the entrance of the airport till the moment you get to seat down in the plane. You also need to think about general things, like for how long can you can park the car in the airport’s parking or when does the boarding close? Oh, how much does a bottle of water cost at the newsstand in the airport or can I bring an empty one and get tap water from the bathroom?
Scott Keyes, the co-founder of Scott's Cheap Flights, has spent countless hours researching the best plane fares before navigating the world's maze-like terminals, and he can be the expert you need to understand the ins and outs of airport etiquette. And since I always have a problem with my family and my boyfriend regarding HOW early should someone arrive at the airport? I decided to go through this information first.
Domestic flights in general begin boarding 30 minutes in advance with a final call around 5 minutes before departure. Therefore arriving in the airport around 2 hours ahead of time is a good idea. This way you will have plenty of time to pass the long line from security check of if you need to check in your luggage.
For international flights, it’s a different story, the boarding will start 45 minutes ahead with a final call around 10 minutes before departure. For these flights, arriving in the airport 2-3 hours ahead of time is a good rule of thumb. Additionally you will need to pass also passport control, and since stakes here are higher, as there are fewer flights to get rebooked to if you miss a flight.
But when you get in the airport, there are a few tricks you can use in order to look and feel as a travel expert without actually being one…and this can definitely help making the transit period though the airport a much more manageable experience.
WHEN SHOULD SOMEONE CHECK IN TO A FLIGHT?
Personally, I prefer to check in as early as possible, this way I get to choose my perfect window seat. In general that is exactly 24 hours before the flight. In general, while flying within Europe, I don’t check in any luggage and I have only my carry on, therefore it’s super easy the second that I arrive in the airport to just take the fast line, which means, you get directly to security check. Another advantage to check in 24 hours in advance is that you get a mobile boarding pass, which is good for the environment as well as for myself, because I just go straight to security when I arrive at the airport, rather than having to stand in line at the airline desk. If I have to check in a bag, checking in ahead of time doesn't really matter (except for the seating arrangement) because you'll need to go to the airline desk regardless.
WHAT SHOULD SOMEONE DO AFTER THEY'RE CHECKED IN?
Watch the people in front of you in the security line. If you are newbie in the airport or you don’t fly very often, it might be hard to remember what to do with your shoes or laptop, so the best thing you can do is to just follow what the people in front of you are doing. In Amsterdam, they just implemented a new system, so I don’t have to take anything out of my bag, but than again this is not the same when I fly from my home country, Romania.
Download movies or TV shows for the flight ahead of time. Most airports have free WIFI, but the problem is that the speed of the internet is not great, so it’s good to just have something download on your phone, iPad or laptop from home, so you don’t need to stress much.
Make sure to fully charge your phone at home. If you don’t have a power bank to charge your phone or laptop on the go, bring a charger with you. There are a lot of options to charge your phone nowadays in most airports.
WHAT ELSE SHOULD SOMEONE DO TO PREPARE THE DAY OF A FLIGHT?
Enable text messages or push notifications about the status of your flight. I use Schiphol app, since I live in Amsterdam and at the end of the day this is very helpful, as I get notifications about my flight if it has switched gates or terminals so I can plan the 10 minutes walking more or less of walking.
This is very helpful, as most of the airlines nowadays charge for text messages or notifications, especially for low costs airlines.
Bring an empty water bottle. As I mentioned before, if the tap water is good for drinking in your country you can easily fill up your empty bottle, since you can't bring water through security. For sure this is cheaper than buying a bottle of water from the newsstand in the airport.
Notify your banks if you're traveling internationally. If you travel internationally, it’s good to activate your international payments via the bank app, or easily, just call the bank and inform of your traveling plans. This will prevent the bank from thinking that those charges in the Bahamas are a fraud and block your card for a few days.
If you're traveling internationally, take a photo of your passport. I usually have a copy of my passport in my iBook app and also a printed version in my hand bag, just in case it gets lost or you are on the go and need some details from it.
If you're checking in a bag, set aside one change of clothes to pack in your carry-on. "How many times it happened to wait at the baggage claim belt and not to have your luggage arriving? In this situation, it can take even 2-3 days for your luggage to be found, so if you get let’s say around 40 EUR from the airline for losing your luggage while you travel in Lapland in January where is around -20 degrees, it will only help you to buy some very warm socks with that amount! So…better be safe than sorry and get some cloths in your hand bag.