TSA and advance arrival at airport

I believe the current recommendation from TSA is to get to the airport 2 hours before domestic travel, and 3 hours before international.

What do you typically do?

I usually do not check a bag, and I have TSA precheck. While my local airport does occasionally have some crazy lines, the line usually moves quickly. Average wait time is usually less than 15 minutes or so, and I’ve had to wait maybe 30-40 minutes max when the lines were extreme.

I’ve never flown international. For domestic flights I rarely get there 2 hours before the flight. I think an hour and a half is enough regardless of whether or not I’m checking a bag. The bag check line is usually not that long. TSA line can be longer, but an hour and a half has been fine. I don’t have TSA precheck.

airport is 30 min from me.

Usually plan to arrive 1 hour before boarding. So I give myself 1 hour to get through security and arrive at the gate. If that’s still too much time I go to the lounge for a drink.
I hate waiting at the airport.

I’m flying next week to 'Murica and checking a bag, so I’m planning on 3 hours.

i have this year tried arriving at the airport 60 minutes before my flight. I have TSA Pre. small sample owing to little travel, but that has been plenty.

I keep my flying to a minimum (about once a year). Most people I want to see come here, cuz better than where they are.
TSA doesn’t seem to be as much the issue as a plane being there and actually taking off.
But yeah, I arrive as recommended. Get in some steps before taking off.

I like to plan on a solid two hours early. Sometimes it can take a long time to get through baggage check and/or security. Sometimes O’Hare closes all of its terminal parking which causes the offsite parking to fill up, and you are scrambling to find a place 30 minutes away to park your car and even get to the airport at all.

If you don’t build in cushion time, problems can screw you over. And if I’m flying somewhere, I very much want to be on the flight I booked.

a lot depends on where I am flying out of - Chicago can be awful. Atlanta while crowded tends to move. LGA is awful, JFK not as bad. Small airports - Portland ME, Omaha NE, Des Moines… Just be there before the flight leaves. Domestic I usually aim for 1 1/2 before.

International, an hour more. Much earlier for Israel and usually much earlier leaving a foreign country.

I usually do the 2 hours and usually don’t need it.

The airports i hit regularly have seen an uptick in time to get through TSA precheck but at most its added 20 minutes.
Bag check has been a different story. I waited over an hour one day in the SkyPriority lane to check a bag. If there had also been a line at security, i wouldve been screwed.

I have flown only once (it was round trip) since COVID arrived, so I have little recent experience. I did allow 2 hours even though I have TSA precheck and only had carry-on. 1 hour would have been sufficient. Were I to travel now, and I expect to once more this year, I’m risk enough that I will try for at least 1:30 if only carry-on and at least 2:30 if checking a bag. Probably will be checking a bag. Maybe less time when coming back since missing the first flight would be less serious.

I plan to arrive two hours early for domestic flights, and habitually run 15-30 minutes early for everything, so I usually end up at the GATE two hours early. Which is fine. The stress of being late really gets to me, so I bring my iPad and stream something while I wait.

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You know those people panicking at security, then bolting to their gate clutching their waistband because they’re too frantic to put on their belt because their plane is about to depart? Yeah, that will never be me. Even watching those people gives me anxiety.


I stuck with the two hour rule for a long time. Now I aim for 90 minutes and that feels generous. For international we do two hours outbound and three hours on the return.

I have Pre and Clear. If I know that Clear is at the airport and near my gate I don’t sweat it if I’m running late. Never spent more than five minutes getting through Clear.

ETA: I don’t check a bag, ever.

yes, everything I said prior, I did not include baggage

My home airport is BDL, and I have a NEXUS card which gets me PreCheck privileges. I really only travel within the US and Canada. I don’t check bags.

I usually aim to arrive for parking 2 hours prior to departure time, and I usually feel like I’m excessively early.

However, I have traveled enough to have some weird :poop: happen…and when it does, I’m glad that I’ve had the extra buffer time.

I tend to hold to the 2-hour guideline at airports other than BDL, although I may cut that down at teeny-tiny airports, or pad that a little more at larger airports.

My inlaws’ home airport is a tiny place, with a single gate that only has puddle-jumper service to ATL; it’s pointless to arrive more than 45-60 minutes before the flight, because the TSA checkpoint won’t open until then.

But when I went to Dallas a couple of weeks ago, I planned for 2.5 hours since I wasn’t certain about the logistics of getting between the light rail station and my terminal, and since it seemed like only certain TSA checkpoints had PreCheck lanes.

Prior to 9/11, I was the type to show up right before boarding and never had issues.

Post 9/11, 1.5 hours generally seems sufficient for domestic travel if you don’t check a bag. I almost never check one. On rare occasions I will if I really want to have something not allowed in carry on.

I too don’t like being stressed to get through TSA if I am short on time, so I usually shoot to get there 1.5-2 hours before domestic travel at major airports. Never had any issues. Agree that at some podunk airports arriving too early is a mistake. Security won’t be open and there’s nothing worth doing in the airport.

Haven’t flown on an international flight since pre-Covid. Three hours seems like overkill, but I’ll probably follow the guidance. Right now is about the time I’d be going through TSA if I arrived 2 hours preflight, and the current wait time at international security is 9 minutes.

the last few times I flew out of LGA, they had ditched the hands up like a criminal check and instead had you walk on through a regular metal detector. Maybe was for faster moving lines and they realize the hands up thing is stupid.

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I’ve had to do this when my connecting flight was in another terminal. I can’t remember it ever happening for domestic travel, only international.

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Unless you are flying out of a short-staffed airport at a busy time, the above recommendation is way too conservative. I aim for two hours for International flights and that is still conservative. Even in this past crazy summer of flying, the airports I flew from had no more than 15 minute security waits (and about 5 minutes with priority screening).

Situation seems to have gotten even better this fall. Even Gatwick only took 5 minutes to get through security for International flight.

I do try to travel in off-peak hours however.

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