Whether you’re an avid flyer or someone who goes once or twice a year, the stress of getting to your flight in time never truly goes away. Getting to the airport at the right time is an art that must be mastered – right? Well, with a few hints and tips, timing your arrival at the airport will never be simpler. So, how early should you get to the airport?

Before we start, there are a few things that you need to be aware of. These housekeeping tips will play a major part in deciding how early you need to get to the airport. Factors like luggage, destination, and timing will ultimately decide your schedule for the day, so it pays to be aware of these details. Once you know everything about your trip, down to the amount of bags you have, you’re ready to plan your arrival.

Checking Bags

The amount of bags you have to check before you fly will ultimately determine how early you should arrive at the airport. The general rule of thumb is if you have a bag to check, you should expect to have to wait for long before you’re at your gate. According to popular airlines such as Delta and United, if you have a bag to check – no matter how many – you should add 30 minutes to your airport arrival time.

Without checked bags, you can arrive about an hour before the flight – depending on your final destination. This added time for checked bags is due to the wait for the checking. If you’re lucky, this won’t be too much of an issue, but typically, adding half an hour to account for this line will be a good idea.

Domestic or International

Where are you flying to? If you’re planning a trip abroad, off to a different country, then it will be a good idea to add some time to your arrival. With international flights, TSA checks and passport reviews tend to take longer and be more common. So, in order to compensate for those long waits and security lines, you should always arrive at the airport earlier for an international flight than a domestic one. Anywhere from 15 minutes to half an hour earlier is a good idea.

Beat the Rush

Another factor could be the day you’re flying out. If you’re flying on a holiday or a special travel day, then you should get to the airport as early as possible. More people mean more waiting, so it pays to be aware of special travel days in which the airport is at its busiest. There really is a science to figuring out when to get to the airport for your flight.

Can You Arrive too Early?

So, as things stand, the earliest you should arrive is 45-minutes before your flight if your trip is domestic, without any bags to check. Once you add a bag, the time goes up half an hour. Flying international? Toss on another half hour to your early arrival time. Many airlines recommend arriving two hours before your flight is set to take off.

Is there a point in which you’ve arrived too early? Not necessarily – within reason. If you’re there in the morning and your flight takes off at night, chances are you’re in for a long day of waiting at your gate with nothing to do. However, if you want to add an hour onto your arrival time, then there’s nothing stopping you! It might even be smarter to get there as early as possible.