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Do you always allow 3 hours for international check in on flights?

Flight Check-in Travel

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#1 kittykat23uk

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 02:45 PM

Hi folks, When going away i prefer to get a coach to the airport, rather than a train, the coaches take longer but are far less hassle than changing at liverpool street and dealing with cases on the underground. I have been scoping out flights for my (hopefully) trip to India. The one I want to get is at 1335. But that would mean either getting a 0355 coach or the 0610. The 0610 is due in at 1100 at Heathrow terminal 4. So that gives me 2.5 hrs to get checked in for my flight and get through security.

As I know that the advice is to arrive 3 hour before the flight, this is later than I would normally aim for. But I wondered, for those of you who are seasoned travellers, would you be comfortable leaving only 2.5 hrs to check in at heathrow or other major hub? Or do you always aim to get there 3hours ahead at least?

Edited by kittykat23uk, 20 January 2013 - 02:45 PM.

If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
King Julian: “Who wipes?”

#2 stokeygirl

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 02:51 PM

I often get there only 2 hours ahead, and rarely 3.

But that's often coming from my office in central London, where there are multiple options for transport if something goes wrong- I can keep an eye online during the day and if I can see there are problems on the tube I could leave early or get the Heathrow Express.

I'd be less worried about the time before check in, more worried about leaving some breathing space in case of delays.

What day of the week is this? If it's a Sat or Sun I'd be less worried, if a weekday then the coach will be going through the busy time for traffic.

#3 kittykat23uk

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 02:56 PM

Thanks for replying. It's a Tuesday.
If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
King Julian: “Who wipes?”

#4 kittykat23uk

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 02:58 PM

Oh and, to add, the reason why the coach usually takes 4.5 hours or so is because it goes via thetford, newmarket and standstead amongst other stops.

Edited by kittykat23uk, 20 January 2013 - 02:59 PM.

If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
King Julian: “Who wipes?”

#5 JohnR

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 02:58 PM

Travelling from the Midlands, I'd feel a bit uncomfortable by only 2.5 hours for the same reason as SG - it's not much leeway if things go wrong en route. And things have gone wrong in the past on the route taken by National Express from Coventry to Heathrow. It is quite stressful watching the safety margin tick away...


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#6 kittykat23uk

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 03:00 PM

Yes that is what is worrying me. I'll probably end up getting the ungodly o'clock coach as train will be expensive.
If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
King Julian: “Who wipes?”

#7 stokeygirl

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 03:04 PM

In that case, I'd be worried about a 6:10 coach scheduled to arrive at 11am. You'd be going round the M25 (I guess) at peak traffic times. Would only take an accident on the M25 to stuff that up!

#8 kittykat23uk

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 03:58 PM

Yeah, that is a concern. the 0355 is the only other option, gets in at 0905.


If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
King Julian: “Who wipes?”

#9 wilddog

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:29 PM

Does the bus drop you at T4 at or do you have to make your way there from Heathrow Central?



#10 kittykat23uk

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:34 PM

It drops off at T4. I originally thought the timing was fine because it said 10.40, but that was for T1 and T3, the bus is due in at T4 at 11.00


If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
King Julian: “Who wipes?”

#11 russell

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:48 PM

Why not overnight at/near the airport and save yourself a whole load of stress?

We normally pay for parking at T5, and we tend to get there around 3-4 hours before, a certain person likes to use the Elmis spa, I actually don't mind a massage pre flight.

Edited by russell, 20 January 2013 - 06:49 PM.

Au revior ST - its been a pleasure, see you in 2015!


#12 wilddog

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 06:48 PM

Suggest you find out what time Check in will close. If your bus was an hour late you would still have 1.5 hours for check in if the airline accepts that.

 

I go with Nat Express regularly and normally the timetables are adjusted in recognition of different traffic loads so they will have made some allowance for the M25. I have once (and only once) been an hour late arriving at the Terminal (non arrival of driver due to sickness at start point so had to wait for another driver and then bad traffic), normally the timing is pretty good.

.

It's a difficult decision to make; ...................................the 03.55 departure from Norwich sounds horrendous


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#13 kittykat23uk

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 07:34 PM

Why not overnight at/near the airport and save yourself a whole load of stress?We normally pay for parking at T5, and we tend to get there around 3-4 hours before, a certain person likes to use the Elmis spa, I actually don't mind a massage pre flight.


Because I'm working the day before and also the cost. :)
If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
King Julian: “Who wipes?”

#14 russell

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 08:08 PM

Why not overnight at/near the airport and save yourself a whole load of stress?We normally pay for parking at T5, and we tend to get there around 3-4 hours before, a certain person likes to use the Elmis spa, I actually don't mind a massage pre flight.


Because I'm working the day before and also the cost. :)

Travel down late in the day....I think you could get a holiday inn express for around £40.

 

Worth it considering the impact it could have on the overall trip.


Au revior ST - its been a pleasure, see you in 2015!


#15 kittykat23uk

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 08:29 PM

I had considered that but it's still 4.5 hours to heathrow, by coach or 3 1/2 by train, so going after work would be pretty horrendous too. I don't sleep well in hotels and, although I do have family, they are in New Addington, near Croydon, so probably wouldn't save me much time if I stayed with them and there is the hassle of dragging bags etc on public transport. This is why I prefer to get evening flights. :/

I also looked at flights from Norwich, via schipol. The outward would have a 6 am departure and a 1h 45 m connection, not sure if that is enough time and I have had domestic flights cancelled from Norwich due to fog before. Then inward had a 9hr layover in schipol.. the flight is about £240 more than the one from London but I wouldnt need a hotel in Mumbai on the way back, which I have budgeted £70 for on the heathrow routing. Decision, Decisions!
If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
King Julian: “Who wipes?”

#16 kittykat23uk

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 08:47 PM

Just to add, really looking for the best combination of practicality, convenience and value. Basically, the trip is already going to cost more than I planned because of the numbers, since, assuming its happening, there are only two of us sharing costs for the majority of the trip. So this is why I am looking primarily at the air India flight options (last two trips I flew with BA and Virgin). I know from experience that I rarely sleep well on the night before my trip, so will no doubt be awake in any case, which is why I am more inclined to get the ungodly o'clock coach than travel down the evening before and lay out on a premier inn or leave later and get a train (doing so and I would hit rush hour traffic in London, ugh!).

Also, with the coach, it is longer, but I can nap and not have to worry about changing en route.
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If an experience is amazing enough to be "once in a lifetime," I want to do it every year.
Alex: "Whoa! Hold up there a second, fuzzbucket. You mean like, uh, the live in a mud hut wipe yourself with a leaf type wild?"
King Julian: “Who wipes?”

#17 Anita

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Posted 20 January 2013 - 11:20 PM

Apart from the time taken in the bus and possible accidents etc led severe traffic on your highway, the airline is something I would consider too. If the airline has a hub in that airport, I spare more time for checking in etc as nowadays all flights have common queues and not flight specific queues. If its like Air India or something, it still might have very long queues given the travel load from London to India. Here in HK, its so straightforward- always took me 30-35 minutes to reach the airport from home, last time for Kenya,  I calculated 2 hours ahead +40 minutes travel time and got stuffed with a 6 km road work. Reached 1-1.15 hours before but was very stressed out. 

 

I would go with the 3:55 am -too many points at which things could go wrong in a 4 hour route, plus traffic. It would be easier for you to go to bed early at 7-8 pm and then as you say catch a snooze in the bus also. Once you are checked in, the 2 hours 10 minutes earlier start wont matter so much! 


Edited by Anita, 20 January 2013 - 11:24 PM.


#18 twaffle

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Posted 21 January 2013 - 12:23 AM

Go early.


… clarity in thought comes after challenge …


#19 Geoff

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 10:53 AM

I can't comment from a UK perspective but i agree with Russell. Overnight near the airport & remove the stress from your trip.


Geoff.

#20 graynomad

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Posted 22 January 2013 - 12:22 PM

I was stuck in the tube once heading to Heathrow, there are few worse feelings than seeing your contingency time slipping away. Do what you gotta do to mitigate that risk, if that's a 0355 bus or whatever then so be it. 


GRAYnomad, aka Rob Gray, nature photographer and electronics nerd. http://www.robgray.com "Scattered showers my arse" -- Noah, 2348BC.





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