I advise people to get to airports 3 hours early for international flights and 2 hours early for domestic U.S. flights. This is actually airline recommendation. I get a lot of push back on this and I’m certain most people don’t head my warning. It seems crazy, right, to be at an airport so early? But, consider the worst-case scenario. There are many but here is a recent true story. Just picture it as if you were there, bag in hand.

You arrive at the airport only to find the electronic check in kiosks are not working. You must check your bag because you have shampoo bottles and such inside that are more than 3 ounces. In other words, you can’t take the bag through security. You did not arrive 3 hours early for your flight and now, there is not enough time to wait in the long lines. You realize you are going to miss your flight. You call your travel agent who finds out that there is not any other flight that day that you can get on. Your only option with that airline is to fly out the following day. You will miss one day of your vacation. Your only other option is to purchase a one-way ticket on another airline. This is the one you choose but that one-day, one-way ticket costs a small fortune. Insurance, if you purchased it as recommended, will not cover the cost of that other ticket OR the loss of your original ticket.

Did your blood pressure go up just thinking of yourself in that situation? This is a horrible way to start a vacation. Imagine if you were traveling as a couple. The cost would be extremely high and you’d probably be fighting about whose fault it was you didn’t arrive at the airport earlier.

When you think about the worst-case scenario of arriving at the airport 3 hours earlier. It becomes pretty clear. If you arrive and everything is smooth sailing, you might get through baggage check and security in 30 minutes. That leaves you 2 hours and 30 minutes before your flight. Yes, you could have slept a bit longer at home but is the extra sleep worth the possibility that you could be stuck in scenario #1? I don’t think so. If you find yourself with 2 hours and 30 minutes on your hands, most airports these days have sit down restaurants, massage areas, great shopping venues, televisions, and yes, even outlets for plugging in your devices.

So, I implore and encourage you…. Arrive to airports early. Keep your blood pressure down. Don’t fight with your significant other. And, above all else, start your vacation on a positive note.


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About the Author: Tina Shands is Owner and Agent of specially Designed Travel. A travel agency focused on couples and adult-only travel to the Caribbean, Mexico, Hawaii , Alaska and Europe. Groups and Destination Weddings are a specialty. Whether you are looking for a cruise, a tour or a resort, Specially Designed Travel can assist. For more information and to contact: www.speciallydesignedtravel.com.