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How long should I allow at the airport for an international flight home at El Prat airport?

My cruise arrives back in port in Barcelona at 6am and my flight home to the US leaves at 10:50 am. I am debating between taking the cruise line offered shuttle service leaving at 7am or taking a taxi. How much time is recommended to arrive at the airport before a flight? I will possibly be checking 1 bag only. I've been told to allow anywhere from 45 minutes to 3 hours... Anyone with recent experience? I'm flying in May 2020. Thanks in advance for any help!

Posted by
2284 posts

45 minutes is INSANE. International flights start boarding often 1 hour ahead and doors close well before the scheduled flight time - maybe up to 30 minutes (meaning if you are at the gate later than 10:20 for a 10:40 flight you might not be allowed on). You’d have to be done checking your bag (line!) and through security (line!) and walk to the gate before this.

Also make sure you check in online - check in often closes 90 min before the flight so if you don’t check in by 9ish...you aren’t flying.

I’d say 2 hours ahead is probably ok but technically 3 is advised. I usually leave 3 and have a lot of time sitting around waiting.

Posted by
4677 posts

Coach passengers need 3 hours for waiting in line and then Immigration and then Security. This is a non-negotiable mandate from the airline. They also have to meet US TSA rules to submit passenger lists before your plane lands. Use hearsay rules at your own risk.

Posted by
6 posts

Tim,

Does it change the equation at all if you have the Trusted Traveler/Global Entry card?

Posted by
16724 posts

I flew home from Barcelona in August 2016. The city's visitor count must have increased since then, so I assume the airport is busier. I arrived at the airport at least 3 hours before my flights and had essentially no time at the gate. There was an hour-long check-in line.

I take the (usual) 3 hour guidance for international flights very seriously and consider it a minimum.

Posted by
6 posts

acraven

Thank you for that. i will stick to the 3 hour guideline and catch a taxi to the airport.

Sharon

Posted by
4677 posts

Sharon, the duty is on the airline for the entire passenger list. They don't get to submit your name later (like a homework exemption ... ) because of your status. But this is just a general observation-I don't work in the travel industry.

During times of heightened security (I don't mean recently ...), UK-departure airlines were asking people to come to the airport five hours early, because they are so much physically closer to the US, and the time span for the list submission is a fixed number, not related to travel time.

Posted by
6093 posts

My cruise arrives back in port in Barcelona at 6am

IF it arrives on time, when you are actually off the boat and have your bags and are at the taxi stand is.....? Not everybody can get off the boat first

Do they give preferential treatment to disembark to those who use the cruise lines shuttle bus?

Definitely a good idea to shoot for the 3 hr end of the spectrum and not the 45 min end

Posted by
6 posts

joe32F

I will be able to be among the first off the boat due to my status with the cruise line if I take my own luggage off, which I plan to do. i only have 1 suitcase and a carry on. I have been told by Carnival that we should be off before 7. My only concern with taking the cruise shuttle is if it doesn't leave right at 7... I'm thinking if I'm among the first off and I grab a cab, i should be at the airport by 7:30 at the latest (fingers crossed)

Posted by
3916 posts

Does it change the equation at all if you have the Trusted Traveler/Global Entry card?

No. Trusted Traveler/Global Entry means nothing outisde of the US. It will have zero bearing on the time it takes to transit through Barcelona or any other non US airport.

You will need to be at the airport three hours prior to your flight's departure. Ignore the 45 minutes claim, whoever told you that is woefully incorrect.

I appreciate it's a bit late in the day but you're cutting it extremely fine. Hopefully your ship will dock on time.