How early you need to arrive for a flight, according to different airlines

No one likes arriving at an airport too early. But then, no one likes rushing when it’s too late either.

To help you plan it all better, airlines all share the ideal times to arrive at the airport.

We’ve made it easier for you by putting the details from the major airlines here.

This is how early you actually need to arrive.

Obviously, take this with a pinch of salt and use your logic too – if there’s bad weather or your flight is overbooked, you may need to arrive earlier to get a decent seat or space in the overhead compartment for your carryon.


Those with hand luggage only can check in from two hours to 30 days before the flight, while checked luggage flyers should arrive no later than two hours before – standard.

At Gatwick, in person check ins start from two hours before for domestic flights, and three hours for European flights.


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Bag drop and check in closes 40 minutes before a flight, so you’ll want to get there way before to beat the crowds.

For checking in online, do it at least two hours before the flight – otherwise there’s a nasty £50 charge to do it later.

They suggest arriving at your airport between two and two and a half hours before a flight.

British Airways

The advice is different depending on which airport you’re leaving from, but generally, arrive no earlier than two hours before for short-haul flights, and three hours before long-haul.

Check in closes 20 minutes before departure, which is cutting it pretty fine.

Make sure you’re at the gate no later than 15 minutes before take off.

Wizz Air

Be at the boarding get at least 30 minutes before, the airline warns.

Check in starts two hours and closes 40 minutes before take off, most of the time.


Depending on whether you’re on a short or long haul flight, check in desks open from three and a half to two and a half hours before.

If you arrive early, you’ll have to wait.

Those checking in bags shouldn’t leave it later than an hour before the flight leaves.

Virgin Atlantic

You should arrive at least two hours before the flight leaves, and check in usually only opens 24 hours before the flight.


Check in desks close 40 minutes before take off, so don’t leave it late.

You can check in online from 28 days before, depending on the flight.

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