Skip To Content



Information & Resources

Checking In

Check-in deadlines

Check-in deadlines give airlines time to load luggage onto the plane, offer potential unclaimed seats to stand-by passengers, and finalize take-off documentation. 

Check-in deadlines are usually between 60 to 30 minutes before boarding.  If you are late, and do not check in by your airline's deadline, you may be unable to check in (meaning you cannot get a boarding pass and get on your flight).

There are 3 ways to check in, from home or when you arrive at the airport. Choose the one that's best for you.

Check-in at staffed airport counter

Checking in at the airport, at a staffed check-in counter, lets you check in your baggage at the same time you check in for your flight. The agent will print a boarding pass for you and tell you your gate number (this should also be printed on your boarding pass). Adult passengers 18 and over must show valid identification at the airport checkpoint in order to travel internationally.

You will need:

  • Passport
  • Paper ticket (less and less common)

  • A confirmation number (usually sent via email if you bought your ticket  online or through a travel agency)
  • A printed itinerary with a confirmation number

Note: If your flight is in less than an hour and there is a long line for check-in, tell an employee of your airline that you must board soon. They may help you advance in the line.

Checking your bag(s)

The agent will check your luggage, if you have more than carry-on bags. Do not lose your boarding pass or the small stickers they give you. These are keyed to the stickers they put on your luggage. (They help the airline locate your luggage if it gets lost in transit.)

Check-in at airport kiosk

Most airlines offer self check-in at kiosks located near the ticketing counters. Self check-in is a convenient option, even if you have bags to check. At a self check-in kiosk, you can:

  • Enter number of bags to be checked (if desired)
    • After check-in, bring luggage to a staffed counter or luggage checking station
  • Print your boarding pass
  • Select a seat (if allowed by the airline and you haven't pre-selected)

You will need:

  • Confirmation number (usually sent via email if you bought your ticket  online or through a travel agency)
  • The credit card used for ticket payment
  • Your passport  (A passport is always required for those over 18, when traveling internationally. Airline staff will check your passport either at time of check-in or at the gate.)


sdsu study abroad. explore. discover.


  • Checking In: By checking in, you announce your arrival to the airline. The check-in process also lets you confirm you will be on the correct flight, obtain a boarding pass, and check luggage.
  • Boarding Pass: A document provided by your airline during check-in that gives you permission to board the airplane for your flight. Boarding Passes are always required to board a flight. Airlines  mayaccept paper or electronic boarding passes (on your phone or tablet).

Airline check-in policies:

Most airlines will list their specific check-in policies and timelines, so visit your airline's website for details.  Here are links to the check-in policies for 3 common carriers:

5500 Campanile Drive, San Diego, CA 92182-5101