How many hours before your flight do you arrive to the airport? There are some travelers who chance it and arrive an hour before and then others who like to arrive 2-3 hours before departure to ensure a leisurely stroll to their boarding gate. 

Since this summer is set to be a record-breaking time for air travel, we want to set the record straight on how far in advance you should arrive at the airport. The answer may surprise you. 

A good rule of thumb to follow is to arrive at the airport two hours early for domestic flights and three hours for international flights. Arriving two hours in advance gives you the time to check bags, go through security, and a buffer for anything that may happen in between. 

Sky Harbor recommends following their “3-2-1” philosophy: arrive at the airport check-in counter three hours before your flight, be in line at airport security two hours before your flight, and be at your gate one hour before your flight. 


New travelers should give themselves more time so they won’t feel overwhelmed and stressed. 

In some instances, airport arrival times may depend on the airline and destination you’re traveling to. United Airlines has a minimum check-in time of 30-90 minutes, depending on the type of flight. Travelers with luggage to check may have to arrive earlier.

The TSA wants travelers to arrive to the airport as early as possible to avoid the rush at screenings. Airports, on the other hand, want travelers to arrive early to shop and dine while they wait to board their flights.

At the end of the day, the goal is to arrive in time for your flight. So, play it by ear, but make sure you don’t miss your flight!

Related: How To Cope With Your Inflight Jitters