Check-in time for Aer Lingus international flight?
April 11, 2010 12:42 PM   Subscribe

How early should we arrive at JFK for an international flight with Aer Lingus, if we're checking in online?

My husband and I are flying from New York (JFK) to Amsterdam via Dublin on Aer Lingus. We plan to check in online the day before. The airport information we received with our booking confirmation tells us to "Please check-in three and a half hours prior to your scheduled departure time." Further information on the Aer Lingus website says the 3.5 hours is "recommended" but also that online check-in (from home) is available up to 2 hours before the scheduled departure time. And check-in does not actually close until 45 minutes before departure. we really need to be at the airport 3.5 hours early, if we've already checked in? Or would 2 hours be okay?

On past international flights (on other airlines), I have always arrived at the airport closer to 2 hours prior to boarding with no problem. We will be checking one bag each. We can get to the airport extra-early if it is necessary, but I'm kind of dreading the thought of hours and hours at JFK. I've checked the Flyertalk forums with no success.
posted by Jemstar to Travel & Transportation (5 answers total)
If the airline "recommends" 3 1/2 hrs before the scheduled departure time then this is what I would aim for. The departure gate will close 45 mins before SDT and they will start boarding by seat numbers before this.
You have no control of the possible long lines for security and this can take time. Also it's usually a long walk from the departure concourse to the gate and no doubt you will want to browse the duty free stores on your way. Online check in will help, but you will still have to show your passports and boarding cards several times.
posted by lungtaworld at 1:59 PM on April 11, 2010

If you aim to get there 3 hours before the flight, and you get stuck in traffic for 45 minutes or more, you'll probably be happy for that extra cushion. I personally would rather arrive early and chill on the far side of security, then sweat out a traffic jam or accident on the highway in the back of a cab. You can never be sure how long the security lines will be .. sometimes you breeze right through and sometimes the line is out the door. Personally I like to feel in control and not have these elements left to chance. Maybe you're more comfortable cutting it closer.
posted by Kangaroo at 2:57 PM on April 11, 2010

I don't think It's ever taken me more than about 30 minutes to get from an airport entrance to my gate. The probability of missing your flight if you arrive 2 hours early is all but zero, and only slightly higher than the probability of missing your flight if you arrive 3.5 hours early. Were it me, I'd go about 60-75 minutes early.
posted by deadweightloss at 3:08 PM on April 11, 2010

Response by poster: The main thing I am curious to know here is if either Aer Lingus in particular, or all airlines since my last trip in 2007, has something special about international travel which requires being there 3.5 hours early. You can assume that I am aware of the traffic in my region and will budget that appropriately. But if I aim for 3.5 hours and have no traffic, I might be there 4 hours early or even more. If I aim for at least two hours I might get there between 2 and 3 hours early -- the main thing I want to know is if this is still okay.
posted by Jemstar at 3:28 PM on April 11, 2010

Best answer: You should make sure (maybe you already did) that you can indeed check in online since you are traveling on to Amsterdam. Anymore, I don't even try to check in online for an international flight, since typically have more difficulty than success. I fly international at least 5X per year.

I suggest you try to check in online, and, if successful, then just make sure you are at the Aer Lingus web check in counter at least 45 minutes before your flight. I can almost guarantee you that if you are there 44.99 minutes before the flight, you are not going anywhere - especially if you have check-in luggage.

By the way, lungtaworld states an opinion based not in fact. Boarding typically starts about 30 minutes prior to departure time, and doors close around 10 minutes prior to departure - not 45.

In any case - do not wait until the last minute, or you may have to reschedule your departure.
posted by walleeguy at 6:21 PM on April 11, 2010

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