What Time Should I Arrive at the Airport?

Running late for your trip might ruin your vacation before you even arrive at the airport. Similarly, coming early might eat into your vacation budget long before you leave — after all, whiling away the hours at overpriced cafés and gift shops can grow costly!

To help you discover the sweet spot between being too late and being too early, we looked at the suggested arrival times for the UK's 15 busiest airports, so you can breeze through security and get a quick snack without feeling rushed.


CAATS (Corporate And Airport Transfers Services) operate from Lytham St. Annes in Lancashire, providing Airport Transfers to holidaymakers and travellers from Lancashire to all UK Airport destinations.

Belfast International Airport

Check-in counters at Belfast International Airport open two hours before the planned departure time of most domestic flights. For international flights, you should begin your check-in procedure three hours before your flight time.

Despite the fact that it is a tiny airport, they have advised passengers to follow these standards during peak travel times, particularly during the busy summer months.

Birmingham Airport

If you want to travel with additional time, you may stay at Birmingham airport for up to four hours!

Again, always verify your airline's instructions, but check-in opens four hours before your international flight and between two and three hours before your domestic and European flights in Birmingham.

Cardiff Airport

Cardiff advises passengers to arrive four hours before an international trip and two hours before a short-haul journey (four hours or less) within the UK or Europe.

East Midlands Airport

Jet2 and TUI request that passengers departing from East Midlands Airport begin the check-in and security process three hours before their flight's departure time.

Other airlines require a two-hour cushion to go through check-in and security.

Edinburgh Airport

Most airlines that fly out of Edinburgh Airport close check-in 30 to 40 minutes before boarding, and gates can close as short as 15 minutes before the planned departure time.

To ensure a seamless pre-flight experience, you should plan to check in three hours before an international flight and two hours before all domestic flights.

Glasgow Airport

Are you leaving from Glasgow? Check-in counters will open four hours to ninety minutes before a flight's departure time.

Allow three hours before an international flight, two hours before a European flight, and ninety minutes before a local trip. You can always check what time your airline's check-in desk at Glasgow airport will open here.

Heathrow Airport in London

Are you going to the airport to check in? Heathrow suggests arriving three hours before your departure time at the check-in and luggage drop counters. Two hours is plenty of time to glide through the terminal for flights inside the UK and Europe.

If you've checked in online and don't have any luggage to drop, Heathrow says you may avoid security three hours before a long-haul trip and two hours before a domestic or European flight.

Leeds Bradford Airport

It takes between two and three hours to pass through the checkpoints at Leeds Bradford.

They advise you to do this whether you have checked in online or plan to do so at the desks, so use your judgement!

Liverpool John Lennon Airport

Two hours before your flight should be enough time to go through the checks at Liverpool John Lennon Airport, however, your airline may advise otherwise, so double-check your reservation before you depart!

London Gatwick

London Gatwick requires passengers to arrive at least two hours before their flight to complete the check-in and security procedures.

Check-in, on the other hand, opens four and three hours before long-haul and European flights, respectively. Check-in starts two hours before scheduled departures for flights departing from the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Airport Security Check

Luton Airport

Those departing from Luton should keep in mind the boarding gate closing times, which are an even 40 minutes across all flights.

That gives you an hour and twenty minutes to complete the pre-flight procedures, since check-in and bag drop desks often open two hours before planned departure times.

Manchester Airport

The time you should arrive in Manchester varies greatly across airlines, and many leave the option up to you.

For example, Jet2 enables passengers to check in three and a half hours before their flight's departure. If you check in online and are simply travelling with hand baggage, Jet2 claims you can complete the procedure in 90 minutes.

The airport suggests that you allow two hours after check-in to go through security, but following your airline's rules below will get you through security.

Newcastle Airport

If you've found an incredible package holiday offer, Newcastle airport recommends arriving three hours before your charter flight to guarantee a smooth, stress-free transaction. DIY-holidaymakers on a scheduled flight, on the other hand, can saunter through two hours before departure.

However, check-in times might differ from airline to airline, so it's always best to base your selections on your carrier's policies.

Southend Airport

Check your airline's guidelines for flights departing from Southend. Boarding gates may close 30 to 40 minutes before the planned departure time.

However, the normal guideline at Southend is to arrive at least two hours before your flight if you need to check in or drop off luggage at the desk.

Stansted Airport

Allow at least two hours before passing through security for your Stansted departure, so use your airline's online check-in or arrive early to complete this at the desk.

Stansted recommends that you check your airline's requirements well in advance of your travel date for further precise guidance.


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