When Should You Check In For A Flight? – Know The Details Here

Posted on Nov 9th, 2022 by Renu Dahiya, Last updated on Nov 10th, 2022

Are you wondering when should you check in for a flight? Don’t worry! You have landed on the right platform. We will tell you when you should reach the airport for check-in so that you’ll make it up to your flight. There are several things related to check-in and boarding that you must be aware of to make your flight as stress-free and comfortable as possible. 

Here’s a guide with all that you need to know – from the meaning of the check-in process to the guidelines regarding the check-in and boarding times. This will certainly ease your travel fear and get you ready for the journey ahead. 

What Is Checking In For A Flight?

Checking in for a flight is the process whereby the passenger communicates with the airline representative that he/she intends to travel as planned. The process enables travellers to confirm they will be on the respective flight, obtain a boarding pass, possibly select their seat (if this has not happened already or is allowed by the specific airline), and check-in baggage onto an aeroplane, if desired. 

Different Ways to Check In Before Flight

You can check in for your flight in three different ways – in-person at the airport check-in counter, in-person at the airport using a self-check-in kiosk, and online check-in at the airport’s official website before arriving at the airport. Let’s know about these ways in detail below – 

In-person at the airport check-in counter

This method allows you to check your luggage, if there is luggage for check-in, at the same time as checking in for your flight. For this, you need a passport (travelling internationally), a paper ticket or a confirmation number (if a ticket is purchased online or through a travel agency), or a printed itinerary with a confirmation number. 

In-person at the airport using a self-check-in kiosk

A passenger can select a seat (if has not happened already), enter the number of bags to be checked (if desired), and print boarding passes. After this, the traveller needs to submit bags to a staffed counter or checked luggage stations. Airline representatives will check your passport either at the time of check-in or at the gate. To check in via this method, you need a passport, confirmation number (if a ticket is purchased online or via a travel agency), or the credit card used for payment of a flight ticket.

Online check-in Before arriving at the airport

You can check in online starting 24 hours before the scheduled departure. You need to submit luggage to a staffed counter or checked luggage stations if checking luggage at the airport. Through this method, you can avoid potential check-in lines at the airport, obtain a boarding pass electronically, select seat assignments before others, and get updates on possible changes to departure times. 

How Early Can You Check In For A Flight? 

Most airlines require passengers to check in 2 to 2.5 hours before the flight. They start the check-ins in 2-2.5 hours and close 30 to 60 minutes before departure. So, make sure you reach the airport at least 3 hours before the scheduled departure of the aeroplane. This will give you enough time to check in, collect your boarding pass, check in your luggage, go through the security screening and be at the departure gate in time for your flight. If you want to check in online, then you will be able to check in 30 days before your flight if you have purchased a seat during or after your booking and 48 hours before your outbound flight if you have not purchased a seat. 

After check-in for your flight, irrespective of the type of flight, you have to wait in the waiting area before it is time to board the flight. During this waiting period, you can enjoy the premium facilities of the airport. You can explore shops of famous brands, eateries, and luxurious lounges. So, come early, and complete the check-in process and the luxurious services at the airport. 

A word of advice: Make sure to secure the boarding pass along with your other travel documents. There’s a chance that you lost it in the breathtaking experience of making your flight. And, to save yourself from some hassles, you can check your flight number well before you go for check-in. This will help you to avoid the confusions you may face regarding your flight. 

Guidelines & Deadlines For Check-in And Boarding 

Deadlines Related To Check-in

Almost every airline has a deadline for travellers to check in before each flight. Check-in time deadlines are generally between 30 minutes to 1 hour before boarding a flight, and you are often not able to check in after those times, which means you won’t be able to go on your flight. But, the airline will refund the amount of the total fare after deducting some amount of the fee for other services. It is always better to buy flight insurance to cover your losses in such cases. 

These deadlines allow airline representatives to load the passengers’ luggage onto the aeroplane, offer potential unclaimed seats to the stand-by travellers, and finalize documentation for take-off. 

Guidelines Related To Boarding 

  • Boarding time deadlines are generally between 30 minutes to an hour before the scheduled take-off. Your boarding has the information related to the time the flight will start boarding.
  • Flights always board in shifts – the representative might call the passengers by rows or by groups. You can check your row or group on your boarding pass. 
  • It is always advisable for the airline or airport officials to reach the airport on time or well before time. Please know that it takes much time to get through the check-in line, pass security checks and then walk or ride from the check-in area to your boarding area. Details related to your terminal and gate will be listed on your boarding pass. 
  • If you’ve booked international flights such as London to Delhi flights, you will need to account for more time to clear immigration and customs. 
  • To travel internationally without any hassle, it is advisable to arrive at the airport 3 hours prior to your departure time and 2 hours for domestic travel. In international flights, the boarding starts 45 minutes to 1 hour prior to departure time. 
  • To get the perfect answer to your question ‘when should I check in for my flight?’, do check out the check-in policies and timelines on the official website of the specific airline. 

Tip – Please arrive at the airport a little earlier if you have outsized baggage, are travelling with a pet, or need extra help or assistance. 

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Most Basic Things Required For Check-In And Air Travel

  • Identification Card – It is the most important document for air travel. So, bring any valid government-approved ID Card for domestic flights and a passport for international flights. For example, if you’ve booked flights from London to Mumbai, India, you must have your passport along with you, otherwise, you won’t be able to travel. 
  • Air Ticket – Bring a hard copy or soft copy of your flight ticket, based on the Airline’s policy. 
  • Boarding Pass – Bring a printed boarding pass if available or you can print it at the airport check-in counter or self-kiosk counters.
  • Mobile Phone – Make sure your phone is charged and has all the necessary travel apps downloaded. 


After completing all the formalities and reaching the final stage, wait in the boarding area to board the flight. You will board the aeroplane once the final checking of your boarding pass is done. Settle in, put on your seat belt and listen to all the instructions carefully. 

So, here you go! Enjoy your flight journey and make good memories. 

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: When can you check in for a flight? 

A: For long-haul international flights, check-in opens three to four hours before scheduled departures and for domestic flights, check-in opens two to three hours before flight departure. 

Q: What if I miss checking in or board on time? 

A: If you fail to complete check-in procedures by the deadline and show up at the check-in counter or the boarding gate in due time your reservation will be cancelled. You won’t be able to board the flight. 

Q: How early should I bet at the boarding gate?

A: You need to be present at the boarding gate no later than 30 to 60 minutes (depending on the airline and type of flight) before the scheduled departure time. 

Q: How long before a flight can you check in online?  

A: Online check-in times vary from one airline to another. Generally, you can check in 30 days (in case you have purchased a seat) to 2 hours before the scheduled departure of your flight. 

Q: Can I take the items I have purchased after checking in with me? 

A: Yes, items you purchased after check-in and security checks can be taken on board. 

Q: Is online check-in right for you?

A: The answer to this question is ‘probably’. There are fewer risks to checking in online, so as long as you give yourself time to deal with any unexpected setbacks, checking in online for your flight is the easiest way to travel. 

Well, now that you know all about ‘when can I check-in for my flight?’, it is time to start planning your trip. This guide will help you to avoid unnecessary hassles you may face while checking in or boarding your flight. 

If you are looking to book your flight tickets at cheap prices, then we can help.  Our travel agents, at MyTicketsToIndia, will find the best deals and the most handsome discounts for you! They know how airlines operate and can help you save hundreds of dollars on your flights from UK to India and vice versa. Just give us a call or request a callback from us. Grab our amazing flight deals! 


About Renu View All Posts

Renu Dahiya is a passionate writer who worships her profession. Her love for writing has encouraged her to pursue her career as a writer. Her friends call her a “travel worm” and always come to her to know some interesting traveling tips and destinations. Renu is a repository of knowledge about traveling who knows which place should be visited in which season. Oh yes, she is insanely in love with dancing too. Writer, traveler and dancer, a perfect combination! Without a doubt, she is a complete package.

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