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Check in and airport processing times

We will be taking our first international trip from the US since covid in January. Three hours ahead of the flight used to be sufficient to get checked in, etc. How early do we need to get to the airport now? Thanks.

Posted by
23102 posts

I don't know. Check with the airport. They track that kind of thing. Since our flight leave early evening we actually go even earlier and have a quiet dinner in one of the upscale airport restaurants.

Posted by
303 posts

There is now a "MyTSA" app for smart phones. Among other features, you can enter a list of "favorite airports" and it can display current estimated wait times and gives you a historical graph of wait times by time of day.

Posted by
14573 posts

I flew this week from JFK to LHR. I was able to get my boarding pass online (saves time at the airport), and I have TSA Precheck (saves time at the airport). I didn't have to check bags.

The airport wasn't crowded. I was through security less than ten minutes after arriving at the airport. At the gate, all I had to show was my boarding pass and passport. All my Covid info was uploaded into my reservation prior to airport arrival. The procedure differs depending on your airline and arrival country.

Your experience may be different than mine.

Posted by
2302 posts

Thanks, everybody. We will be leaving from the Sacramento airport traveling to Costa Rica. I don’t know the airline yet as the tour company is booking that for us.

Posted by
13623 posts

You might keep an eye on the Trip Advisor Sacramento forum as well. I’m not familiar with that airport but will say that every airport may be different.

I recently flew from Spokane along with a friend. We were right next to each other at the check in gate and had different experiences. She had to show more documentation than I did. My agent started out saying I needed a negative Covid test and I asked her to read further on her page as that was not a requirement for a vaxx’d traveler to France. She took my word for it and went ahead with check in. This was after a 45 minute line at 5AM!! We could not check in online.

What people experience now may be different in January as well.

Posted by
2302 posts

Thanks, Pam. There appears to be a lot of confusion surrounding travel these days regarding entry requirements into different countries. It might be a good idea to bring along a printout of the official government rules for the entry into Costa Rica assuming the agent will accept them. It has to be hard (if not impossible) for the agents to know all the various rules and regs for different countries in the world. We will just plan on giving ourselves a lot of time at the airport.