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Heads Up on a New Check-in Wrinkle: United Airlines Communication Glitches

I don’t know if this issue is limited to some airports, or widely applicable; but we encountered it recently at Tampa. We had a 7:10 a.m. flight. We were in the line to check in and drop bags by 6:00. The line moved slowly. I caught sight of a sign which advised that check in closed 45 minutes before departure. That was a new one for me, and no information from United had mentioned it. I also didn’t receive the usual 24 hour message about being able to check in, which would have been an appropriate vehicle for that information. I did, later, see that I had received a text at 5:27 a.m. reminding me that I had a flight. Not very useful.
We were on different tickets and were able to get one of us checked in, but the other missed the cut-off by 3 minutes. The agent did make it okay, but chided us for not having allowed a 2 hour margin. It had, in fact, taken us 2 hours at SFO, at the start of our trip, to get to the departure lounge. I would advise anyone using a busy airport to allow that longer time span, and to check about cut-off times. It goes without saying that those traveling internationally need the recommended 3 hour margin.

Posted by
1424 posts

That's such a great reminder, thank you Rosalyn. Years ago I missed a flight from Paris for that very reason of missing - by just a few minutes - the airline's 45 minute window to check in and check bags. Our airline was not as forgiving. ... my fault, not theirs. Two very expensive flight changes later and we went home the next day.

Posted by
5487 posts

Most airlines have check-in cutoff times, especially for baggage. They don't want to be criticized for your luggage not getting loaded. United, and other airlines, are pretty specific about their check-in cutoff times:

For most United- and United Express-operated flights within the U.S.,
travelers with checked baggage must check in at least 45 minutes
before departure. See exceptions

Posted by
2664 posts

Not limited. As stated, all airlines have cut-off times and 30-45 minutes seems standard. My wife and I have gotten in the habit of allowing 3 hours, for layover stops, to ensure we make the cutoff. For our local airport, arriving 2 hours early is more than enough.

Posted by
2861 posts

In defense of the aged (I’m 80), I’ll say that I do know airlines have cut-off times. However, the last I remember was 30 minutes. I suspect that shows me to be stuck in the last millennium , but oh well . . . I do think that a really obvious alert would cost the airline nothing. One shouldn’t have to go searching for such important information. Now I know.
One other lesson that I thought I had learned but continue to need refresher on: don’t rely on information from unofficial sources. When checking into our in-airport hotel, I asked the agent if 1 hour would be sufficient for the pre-flight procedures, thinking that TPA might be much less crowded than SFO or Newark which we had gone through on other segments of this trip. He blithely assured me it would. One might assume that the staff at an in-airport hotel would know enough, at least about such things as cut-off times, to give accurate information; but one would be wrong.

Posted by
5487 posts

You may have been thinking of the 30 minute cut-off that applies to domestic check-in with carry-on only. I have been trying to do the on-line check-in. If you can check-in on line, even if you need to use the airport kiosk to print you pass, then its the boarding time cut-off that applies if you don't need to check a bag.

Posted by
2711 posts

The 30 minute cut off for baggage check has been pretty standard over the years.

Recently flew out of MSP (Mpls St Paul) and 2 hours was really insufficient time for Delta domestic. Delta bag drop took 45 minutes and security took 40, so even with 2 hour arrival did not get to gate before boarding process had already started.

I took the unusual step of making a formal complaint (2 staff to receive bags at a major hub is not right). It’s been a week but no response.