Check-in procedures have changed significantly because of improving technologies and because of the terror attack in 2001, popularly known as 911.
In this article, I have explained in detail the check-in procedures for both domestic and international flights.
What is airport check-in?
Table of Contents
Airport check-in is the process whereby passengers are processed by an airline prior to boarding their flight. At a minimum, this involves checking in with the airline and receiving a boarding pass, although many airlines now offer online check-in which allows passengers to check-in and selects their seats from home or office.
Check-ins are managed by airlines that have spaces designated to them by the airport managing authorities and you’ll always find the airline check-in crew dressed in their uniforms.
Airport check-in hours:
For international flights, check-in usually opens between two and three hours before a flight is scheduled to depart, and closes one hour before departure.
For domes flights, it opens between one and two hours before departure and usually closes 40-45 minutes before.
However, these are only minimum guidelines, so I recommend that you check with your airline to see what their check-in procedures are.
What is the best time to get to the airport for check-in?
The best time to get to the airport for check-in is as early as possible. This gives you enough time to go through the process without feeling rushed, and also means that if there are any delays or problems, there’s more time to sort them out.
Of course, if you’re only traveling with carry-on luggage, you can usually check in online and then just turn up at the airport an hour or so before your flight is due to depart.
What do you need for airport check-in?
The documents you need for airport check-in depends on whether you’re flying domestically or internationally.
For domestic flights, all you usually need is your booking reference, photo ID and a credit card.
For international flights, you’ll need your passport, visa (if required), return ticket, and any other documents required by the country you’re visiting.
Again, it’s always best to check with your airline before you travel to find out exactly what you need.
Ways to check in for a flight:
There are three ways to check in for your flight: online, at a kiosk, or at the counter.
Many airlines now offer online check-in, which means you can select your seat and print out your boarding pass from home or office. This is usually available 24 hours before your flight is due to depart.
You can use online check-in even if you’re not carrying any luggage, as you can just show your boarding pass at the airport.
If online check-in is not available, or you’re traveling with luggage, you can use a kiosk to check-in for your flight. These are usually located in the check-in area of the airport, and you can use them to print out your boarding pass.
You’ll need your booking reference and photo ID to use a kiosk, and you may also be asked to weigh your luggage if you’re checking it in.
If you’re traveling with luggage or you can’t use the kiosks for some reason, you’ll need to check-in at the counter.
You’ll need your booking reference and photo ID, and you may also be asked to weigh your luggage. The airline staff will then print out your boarding pass and attach any luggage tags that are required.
Checking in with an infant and children
If you’re traveling with an infant, you’ll need to bring along their birth certificate or passport. You may also be asked to provide proof of your identity, such as a driver’s license or passport.
The airline staff will then attach a tag to your infant’s car seat or stroller, which you’ll need to present at the gate when you board the plane.
If you’re traveling with children, they’ll need to have their own photo ID if they’re old enough. If they’re not, you’ll need to bring along their birth certificate or passport.
You may also be asked to provide proof of your identities, such as a driver’s license or passport. The airline staff will then print out your boarding passes and attach any luggage tags that are required.
How airport check-in works:
Airport check-in is a service provided for passengers with coordination between airlines, airport security, Customs, and other agencies to ensure that everyone on the flight has the correct documentation and meets all necessary requirements.
Below is how airport check-in works;
When you arrive at the airport, you’ll need to find your present yourself to the airline check-in crew who will take the luggage, weight them and let you know if you are within the accepted limit of 50 pounds. Most airlines allow up to check in with up to 2 bags, with each bag not exceeding 50 pounds or 62 inches in length.
Second, you’ll need to show the documents that are required for the country you’re flying to.
The check-in crew will then need to stamp your passport and boarding pass, which you’ll need to present at the security checkpoint and again when you board the plane.
Once you’ve passed through airport security, you’ll need to find your gate and wait for your flight to be called for boarding.
When you board the plane, you’ll need to present your boarding pass and passport one last time before finding your seat.
Airport Check-in Procedure:
The check-in procedure is pretty straightforward and is aimed at getting you through the process as quickly and efficiently as possible.
Find the check-in area:
To start with, you’ll need to find the check-in area for your airline. This is usually well signposted, and there will be a counter or kiosks that you can use.
If you’re checking in online, you’ll just need to enter your booking reference and print out your boarding pass.
If you’re using a kiosk, you’ll need your booking reference and photo ID. The kiosk will print out your boarding pass for you.
If you’re checking in at the counter, you’ll need your booking reference, photo ID and any other required documents. The airline staff will then print out your boarding pass and attach any luggage tags that are required.
Get your boarding pass:
Once you have your boarding pass, you can head to the security checkpoint. If you’re traveling with luggage, you’ll need to drop it off at the baggage drop-off point first.
You may also need to go through passport control and/or customs, depending on your destination.
Security screening and TSA check
After you’ve dropped off your luggage, you’ll need to go through the security checkpoint. You’ll need to take off your shoes and belts, and anything else that may set off the metal detectors.
You may also be asked to put your carry-on luggage through the X-ray machine.
If you’re a US citizen, you may be able to use the TSA pre-check system. This allows you to go through a dedicated security lane with fewer restrictions.
To use TSA pre-check, you’ll need to apply in advance and provide some biographical information. You’ll then be given a known traveler number, which you can use when booking your flights.
When you get to the airport, look for the TSA pre-check lane and show your boarding pass and ID. You’ll then be able to go through the security checkpoint with fewer restrictions.
Stuff not allowed at check-in:
- Flammlammableable items items
- Oxididizingizing materials materials
- Toxins and corrosives
- Magnetized materials
TSA has an entire list of over 100 items not to bring when flying here.
If you have brought any items above by mistake you can throw them on the bin at the airport or if they are valuable, notify the airport security about non-approved travel items in your possession.
Proceed to the gate:
When you’re done with security and passport control, you can proceed to your gate. This is usually well signposted, and your boarding pass will have the information that you need.
Board the plane:
When it’s time to board the plane, you’ll need to present your boarding pass and any other required documents. If you’re traveling with an infant or child, you’ll also need to present their car seat or stroller tag.
Once you’re on board, you can enjoy the flight!
FAQs on Airport Check-in procedures:
Q: Can I check in online?
A: Yes, you can check-in online if your airline offers this service. You’ll just need your booking reference to do so.
Q: What do I need to check in at the counter?
A: You’ll need your booking reference, photo ID and any other required documents.
Q: What do I need if I’m traveling with an infant?
A: If you’re traveling with an infant, you’ll need to bring along their birth certificate or passport. You may also be asked to provide proof of your identity, such as a driver’s license or passport.
Q: What do I need if I’m traveling with children?
A: If you’re traveling with children, they’ll need to have their own photo ID if they’re old enough. If they’re not, you’ll need to bring
My name is Alex Mutuma and I founded this blog, Airport LLC as a way to document and engage with clients in my travel consulting business. Airportllc.com is the only source of over 2,000 fun things flyers could do during layovers.
Over the past 7 years, I have designed and planned tour packages for hundreds of clients and have recently focussed on the mission of changing boring layovers to excellent mini-vacations by giving you the best suggestions on must-do activities when flying over different airports.
Next time you or your friend are looking for suggestions on what to do in some airport, remember Airport LLC or Airportllc.com. On this site, you’ll get the best suggestions available on the internet regarding hand-picked activities that will fulfill your airport experience.
I currently reside in New York City and have obtained a license to provide professional tour guidance at Airports in the US and across the world. Why should you listen to my suggestions? I have flown through more than 100 airports in the world and fortunately, I have pictures,stories,andtips to share with you regarding all the fun stuff you can do as you wait for your next flight.
Aside from gaining thousands of flying miles, I am also atravel consultant assisting clients with bookings and specifically advance tour bookings of things to do at airports when the layover is longer than 5 hours.
To make a 15-minute free things-to-do consultation with Alex, use my email, firstname.lastname@example.org.
This is only recommended for flyers with long layovers of over 5 hours. If your layover is 3+ hours, you can still reach out but we cannot guarantee the ideal package that will change your layovers to mini-vacations. I only support clients flying through US airports and a select number of cities across the world.
Name: Alex Mutuma
Profession: A professional travel consultant with a focus on airport activities to do during layovers
Phone: +1 945 348 889
Location: 322 Main Packway Street, Boston, US