kittykat23uk

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

60 posts in this topic

Posted (edited)

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

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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.

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Thanks for replying. It's a Tuesday.

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Posted (edited)

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

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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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Yes that is what is worrying me. I'll probably end up getting the ungodly o'clock coach as train will be expensive.

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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!

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

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

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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

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Posted (edited)

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

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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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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. :)

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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.

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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!

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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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Posted (edited)

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

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Go early.

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

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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.

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You can always login to Safaritalk in a wifi hotspot to whilst away the time :)

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Depends what time my departure is. If I am on a near midnight flight from Perth International (which I often am), I get there the full 3 hours ahead (but never more than 3 hours). Why? Well in Perth for a late night flight you will be lucky if more than 4 or 5 check in counters are open and lucky if more than 2 or 3 customs / immigration desks are operating so it could take you a good two or more hours to even get to the departure lounge... and that is without the frustration of getting through the increasingly invasive and over zealous security screening process.

... BUT ... never get there more than 3 hours before... because they will not open check in for your flight more than 3 hours before departure...

Perth is a sad embarrassment of an international airport.

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ZO, I will be transiting Perth next Saturday and am dreading the 6 or 7 hour stop over. Should have stuck to Melbourne. :(

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Posted (edited)

I haven't done a ton of international flying in recent years so I'm honestly not sure how early to get to the airport any more. I think I'm going to have my husband drop me off 2.5 hours early on the day I leave for Botswana, next Saturday, and I'll leave extra driving time even for that schedule. My airline says the average processing time at SFO for international flights is 1.5 hours at peak times, and they want you at your gate 30 minutes before the flight at least. That gives me an extra half hour leeway even if it takes the 1.5 hours to check my bag and get through security. (Apparently the time I'll be arriving is in between what they consider peak times there as well, so maybe it won't take even 1.5 hours to check my bag and get through security). I hope 2.5 hours is enough. With 22 hours of flying time ahead of me plus a 6.5 hour layover at Heathrow, I don't want to get there any earlier than I need to so ... will report back how that goes!

Edited by SafariChick

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SafariChick, you're trip sounds about as arduous as mine. Normally I travel through Melbourne but this time I decided to go through Perth on the new Qatar route as the long leg is 11 hours instead of the 13 on the Melbourne Doha route. However, I didn't know that Perth Airport was so dismal so now I will be stuck there for hours, before the long flights begin.

 

We are lucky in that Emirates have started direct Adelaide - Dubai flights which would make good sense and make the trip a one stop journey. Sadly I have pledged my allegiance to the Qatar frequent flyers programme so that is that.

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