How Early Can You Check-in For A Flight? [Airlines Rules Explained]

Missing a flight will ruin your entire vacation or business trip. But when you know about “How early can you check-in for a flight,” such a bad thing will not happen to you again. 

Arriving late for check-in at the airport can cause you to miss your flight. Enough to ruin a vacation, and it is also costly. Especially when you have to book flights and hotels again and change the itinerary, so to complete the airport processes, you should arrive at the airport with enough time before the flight. 

Some airports will suggest to you how long before the flight you should arrive at the airport. 

How Early Can You Check-in For A Flight? 

How Early Can you Check-in For A Flight

How early you check-in for a flight will depend on the airport, airline, and travel route. Generally, airlines allow you to check-in online 24 hours in advance of your flight schedule. In addition, you can fill in all the information on your passport online. 

You can even choose or upgrade your seat. You can also pay for the checked bag. You will also be able to get a mobile boarding pass or paper version that you can print at home. However, make sure that the airports will enable mobile boarding passes without paper copies. 

If you do not want to check in online, you can check-in at the self-service department 12 hours before the flight. You can print baggage checks at these kiosks. But you can often drop off the bags within 3 to 4 hours of departure time. 

Checking by an agent is always possible and can be completed three to four hours before a flight, but it depends on the airline. 

Baggage Check-in at the Airport

You can easily reach for airport checking without a bag. But if you have to check a bag, you need to give yourself enough time to stand in line. Especially if it is during a travel period, but if you travel to the United States, you should account for the customs waiting time at the airport. 

If you are with a checked bag, you will need to print the luggage tag at the airport. If you do not have a checked bag with you, you can go directly to the safety line. And be able to skip the checking process. 

What will be the Suggested Time Before the Flight? 

WestJet suggests passengers check-in 90 minutes before departure if traveling to Canada. And if it is an international trip, it is suggested to check in 120 minutes in advance. 

Air Canada suggests passengers check-in 90 minutes before departure if traveling to Canada. And if it is an international trip, it is suggested to check in 120 minutes in advance. However, some airport exceptions are 180 minutes. For example, Canada recommends that if there is a flight from Toronto Pearson to the United States before 10 a.m., you should arrive 180 minutes before departure for check-in. Because at this time there is high traffic through customs. 

However, before the flight, you must check the suggested airport arrival time from the airport. However, most airports have to check in 1.5 hours in advance for domestic flights and 2 hours for international flights. 

If you cannot successfully check online, you will need enough time at the airport to check in and drop off your luggage. Most check-in counters close one hour before departure, so it is a good idea to check-in at the airport beforehand. Here is an arrival time suggestion for Canada’s major airports. 

When was the Last Time you Checked in a Bag? 

For both Air Canada and WestJet, you can check in 45 minutes before the domestic flight departure. And you can finish check-in and baggage drop-off on international flights 60 minutes before departure. If you need to drop off any bags after this cut-off period, you will not be able to. However, you must check the cut-off time from your airport. Never miss these, so it is essential to make sure that you do not miss your flight. 

What Happens if you Don’t Check the Bag?

If you do not need to check your bag, you can check-in online, at the kiosk, or by an agent. Therefore, baggage drop-off and cut-off are not required when applying check-in and cut-off. Because when you check-in online, you no longer have to stand in line to check. Instead, you can go straight to safety. 

Before moving on to security, ensure that your carry-on luggage does not exceed the size and weight limit. However, the size and weight restrictions vary according to the airline. So be sure to check before the flight. Because the size and weight of your luggage are too big, you have to charge for it. 

When to Reach the Boarding Gate Before the Flight? 

  • WestJet suggests arriving at the boarding gate precisely 40 minutes before the departure of the flight. If you arrive less than 10 minutes before departure, you will not be able to board the flight. 
  • Air Canada closes the boarding gate 15 minutes before most flights. But with some airport exceptions, 30 minutes. 
  • Check the boarding time from your airport’s website and never be late. Otherwise, you may miss your flight. 

Traveling with Pets

WestJet recommends that you check-in for a domestic flight 120 minutes before departure with your pet and kennel. And on international flights, it is advisable to check in 150 minutes in advance with pets because you have to go through the additional security screen with the pet. 

If you want to travel with pets, you need to check in 120 minutes before. If you want to check in less than 90 minutes before the flight departure, they will not allow your pet. However, agents will pick up 60 minutes before the scheduled departure on the international flight. And will take 120 minutes before the scheduled departure of the US flight. 

When traveling with pets, check your airport restrictions so you can arrive before the flight. If the policy is vague on an aircraft, call the helpline to clear it and make sure your pet can board without any hassle. 

Other Checks in Consideration

There are some reasons to arrive a little earlier than usual before the flight. These factors may include traveling with a baby, needing help, traveling with a minor girl. Also, be sure that traffic, construction, and other things can delay the journey for your flight. There is also a long line-up of both checking and security during busy periods. Peak travel times include Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Years’, March Break or Reading Week, and the construction holiday. 

Why Should you Arrive Early at the Airport? 

Domestic or International flight

As a general rule, you have to plan extra time to fly on international flights. It is because such flights require a lot of time for check-in and security. 

Because on international flights you have to go through passport control. Airlines agents will check your luggage in the security sector because you can control what you can carry in your luggage when traveling from one country to another. 

Peak Times

Adding an hour or more to how much earlier you should go for a flight to fly at peak time. 

Some peak times are apparent. For example, airlines are very busy during the summer holidays. However, not all airports have the same experience. For example, some airports have the busiest time of the day because most travelers take the plane. And some airports have a busy evening. Nevertheless, the peak times are precisely the same. Sometimes busy at the beginning of the week, sometimes at the end of the week. 

Baggage Drop Off

When you travel with a checked bag, it will be for check-in at the airport first. Some airlines are very strict in baggage check-in recruitment. Even luggage will not be allowed to drop off beyond the specified time. 

The latter will signified on the visa. If not, check the airline’s website to see how early you can get to the airport to drop off your luggage. 

Check-in Requirements

Many airlines will allow you to check-in 24 hours before flight departure. If you want to save your precious time, do it. 

But if you can’t check-in online, be prepared to spend enough time at the airport. Like baggage drop-off, you cannot exceed the airline’s deadline. So arrive at the airline about an hour before departure. First, however, you must check all the information about your airline. 

Gate Arrival and Boarding Time Limit

Always remember that it will deny boarding if you arrive at the gate too late. And you will not receive any compensation for denied boarding for it. 

You should mention your boarding pass until you get on the plane because the departure time is different from the boarding time. And the airlines close the gates 15 minutes before the flight. So you must reach the gate before the cut-off. 

Final Thought

No one wants to stay at the airport longer than the travel time. However, you must be careful with the time and do not arrive at the airport too late. 

Hopefully, you know enough about how early can you check-in for a flight. 

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