How Late Can You Check-In for a Flight?
You’ve probably had to deal with delayed flights in the past, and you may have even encountered a flight that was too late to make it into the airport before it closed. But what are the actual rules regarding late check-ins and missed flights? How late can you check-in for a flight?
Can you get off the plane to get your luggage, then get back on? What if you checked in right before the airport closed – could you still board the plane? All of these questions and more are answered here!
How Check-in Works
Airline’s reserve portions of their planes—particularly their first few rows and business-class sections—for elite members and those willing to pay extra. The rest of us are allowed to board before them, but not before certain cutoffs times. That’s right: Unlike most other lines, airlines have zero-tolerance policies on when you’re allowed to check into flights and rules regarding how many minutes you must be at your gate with your boarding pass ready before it closes.
Keep these rules in mind if you’re trying to make a tight connection (and don’t sweat it if things go wrong). Here’s how airline check-in works and what time deadlines you need to know about
Do I Need to Check in with My Luggage?
If you’re checking a bag, arrive at least three hours before your departure, which might start giving you more than enough time to get thru the safety and on time for your flight. It’ll also give you enough time to go back to your car, if necessary, and return with your bags if they weren’t checked by curbside check-in or gate check-in.
If one airline says, you need an hour to get through security while another says two hours is best, always err on the side of safety and plan on taking two hours. Once in a while, an airline might say five minutes is good. Still, those are usually very small commuter flights where everyone has their bag…and there’s no chance of losing luggage as all suitcases go into overhead bins.
How Late Can I Check-In For A Flight?
If your flight is scheduled to take off more than 90 minutes after its scheduled departure time, there are no enforced rules on when you should be at your gate.
In some cases, airlines will tell passengers to show up no less than 15 minutes before their plane takes off, and other times they might ask that you arrive an hour or so before takeoff. But it’s not always cut and dry. Even if there are rules about when you should get to your gate or how far ahead of time any changes to your itinerary need to be made, sometimes those rules will be broken. So what do you do if your airline is broken too?
Is it Best to Check-In Online or at the Airport?
When it comes to checking in at airports, there is no one-size-fits-all approach. If you’re flying during peak hours and your airline has cut down on staffing sometimes resulting in extended wait times, it’s best to be proactive and do some legwork before heading to the airport.
By avoiding long lines, standing room only at ticketing counters, or being forced to pay an extra fee for having an oversized bag and risking missing your flight altogether), you can save yourself time and money by checking online ahead of time. Also, depending on your departure city, it might be more convenient to fly from home than to drive across town, especially when considering weather conditions.
What Happens If I Miss My Flight Due To An Overbooked Flight or Delayed Flights (or Cancelled Flights)?
Suppose you miss your flight due to an overbooked flight or delayed flights (or canceled flights. In that case, it’s important to understand what options are available. The most common reason is likely an overbooked situation when more people want to travel on a given route than seats available.
Airlines oversell tickets because they don’t know how many people will show up in a particular way. Additionally, airlines sell more tickets than seats to have space on their planes for crew members who may have to change flights unexpectedly or at times of peak demand and availability, such as holidays and long weekends.
What if I Don’t Check In On Time And The Airline Releases My Seat To Another Passenger, Will I Get A Refund Or Compensation?
If you haven’t checked in on time, your seat may have been given to another passenger. If that happens, or if your bag is overweight, there are two things you should do immediately: contact customer service right away and ask them to resolve it, and also submit a claim with your travel insurance provider as soon as possible.
Airlines will usually give some compensation when they oversell their flights, you need to make sure they offer it! Most airlines will reimburse you $300-600 USD depending on how long it was until takeoff; if extenuating circumstances delayed your arrival, most airlines would offer more.
What Happens When An Airline Mistakenly Cancels My Flight Despite Checking In On Time?
What happens when your airline mistakenly cancels your flight despite checking in on time and paying for checked bags? Well, it’s probably not what you think. Your first instinct might be to call customer service and demand an immediate refund—but that may not get you very far. The airlines know they’re human, too, making them subject to every one of their own rules.
So if they accidentally canceled your flight despite checking in on time or paying for checked bags, then there must be a reason…and that reason could be attributed to anything from weather delays (which aren’t always predictable) to overbooking.
When checking in for your flight, the final thing to consider is how close to departure time you’ll be checking in. Generally, airlines will not allow passengers to check in within an hour of departure. While they usually make exceptions if open seats are available, it’s best to avoid cutting it that close and risk having problems checking into your flight on time. So give yourself plenty of time before heading out to avoid being stressed about making your flight on time. Thanks for reading!