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Information & Resources

Airport Departure

Progressing through all the steps (check-in, baggage check, and security) can take several hours.  Be sure to arrive at the airport with plenty of time to complete all of the steps required to board your flight.

For international travel, it is wise to arrive at the airport 3 hours prior to departure (2 hours for domestic travel).  International flights often start boarding 45 minutes to 1 hour prior to the departure time to account for Immigration and Customs.

Before you leave - Daily countdown

1-2 weeks before departure:

Think about the items you want to take with you, and create a packing checklist.

2-3 days before departure:

Pack your luggage carefully so as not to forget anything.

The day before departure:

Check your Flight Status. On the day before your flight and also a few hours before you leave your house on the day of your flight, check the status of your flight on your airline's website. On their homepage, look for a "flight status" link.

  • If your flight will be delayed, then adjust your timing accordingly.
  • If your flight is canceled, then contact your airline to make other arrangements.

The day of departure:

  • Check again for all essentials. Before leaving the house, double-check that you have your passport, your wallet, phone, and either your plane tickets or your reservation/confirmation number. Your luggage should be packed a day or two before all this using your packing checklist.
  • Leave with enough time to arrive at the airport about 3 hours before your flight's departure time. Make sure you locate the right terminal for your airline.

Airport check-in

  • Find and follow signs for "Departures" (not "Arrivals") as you enter your terminal.
  • Go to the ticketing counter (you will see large airline logos and signs will say Ticketing/Bag Check). Find the counter in front of your airline and get in line.
  • Read more detailed information on airport check-in.

Going through security

  • Pay attention to the security check point necessary to get to your specific gate number.
  • Show your boarding pass and passport to the agent, and then get into line for the security check.
  • Per TSA regulations, you can only have liquids or gels that are in 3oz containers in carry-on bags.  Liquids should be in one clear plastic bag.
  • Be prepared to remove your shoes, jacket or sweater; unpack electronics; remove all metal objects from your person. Place these items in the bins TSA provides and put bins on the rollers to move forward through the scanner. Place your carry-on bags on the same rollers.
  • You will probably go through a body scan and you may be randomly selected for a pat-down.
  • Be sure to collect all of your belongings from the bins.

Finding your gate

  • After you are exit security, find a monitor to check again that your flight is on time and confirm your gate number.
  • Go directly to your gate to ensure you are in the right area. Listen carefully to any announcements when you are near your gate.

Boarding the plane 

  • Most airlines will list their specific check-in policies and timelines, so visit your airline's website for details.
  • Boarding time is usually 30 minutes to 1 hour before scheduled take-off.
  • Your boarding pass will show the time the flight will start boarding as well as your row or group.

Connecting flights

If you have a connecting flight, then find out the gate number for the connecting airport so that when you land you know where you need to go. After you de-plane, you may need to go to different terminal to find your gate.  You may receive your boarding pass for the second flight ahead of time or need to acquire it when you arrive at the new airport. 

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Missed flights

If you miss your flight before you have gone through ticketing or security, ask your airline's ticketing desk for help. If you are through security but miss your flight for some reason, ask your gate agent for help.

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