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Everything You Need to Know About Airport Check-in

Both first-time and frequent flyers will know that when travelling, there are certain procedures that needs to be followed, particularly at the airport and onboard the plane as well. Thus, one such common procedure is called a flight check-in or airport check-in in aviation terminology.

In this blog, we are going to provide you a detailed overview of what is a flight check-in and what you need to know.

What is Airport Check-in?

In air travel, airport check-in is the process in which all ticketed passengers are required to go through an acceptance procedure, including baggage check at the airport before being issued boarding passes to board the flight. This procedure is usually handled by the airline itself or through an agent or staff at the airport check-in counter on behalf of the airline carrier.

Thus, it is during this procedure where the agents check and validate all the documents, like flight tickets, passports, visas, other important documents for immigration etc. of passengers.

This check-in process at the airport can sometimes, also be referred to as “airline check-in” or “flight check-in”. They all mean the same thing eventually.

Are there different Check-in Methods or Options Available?

Before modern technology became an integral part of our daily lives, passengers only had the option to check-in at the airport’s check-in counter. At this check-in counter, passengers would then be issued boarding passes in order to board their flights.

Today, there is online check-in option and also, self-check-in kiosks available at some airports. These options allow travellers to complete the procedure conveniently and quickly.

Online Check-in

Many airline carriers now allow passengers to check-in online quickly via the carrier’s mobile app. Online check-in is usually open 24 hours prior to the  flight’s departure. However, there may be certain airline carriers that may allow online check-in 36 hours prior to the flight’s scheduled departure.

A major benefit of online check-in is that it can save you plenty of time, especially if you plan to check bags. If you have successfully completed the online check-in and checked baggage procedure, you can leave your bags at the airport’s bag drop lines. You can tag your bags at the airport and then drop them off in the departures hall, where the bags will be taken to the aircraft’s cargo area.

There may be more benefits to online check-in, primarily because this option can give you plenty of time to do other things. In other words, since you already checked in online, arriving at the airport will give you extra time

Self-Check-in Kiosks

Several airports have already provided self-check-in kiosks and many more have started adopting this method for the convenience of passengers. When you arrive at the airport, you can check-in via the check-in kiosks instead of having to wait for your turn in the queue, especially if there is a long queue ahead of you.

You can also print tags for your baggage at one of the kiosks and deposit your bags on the conveyor belt. Alternatively, you may seek assistance from a desk agent to handle your bags after checking in.

Is there a Stipulated Time to Check-in at Airport?

Yes. There is a limited time span that airline carriers allow passengers to check-in at the airport in order to board their flights. Also, this limited-time span for check-in allowed to passengers can be different for domestic and international flights and may depend on the destination as well.

If you travel on a domestic flight, some airlines restrict check-in duration spans to at least 45 minutes prior to the flight’s scheduled departure. So, passengers are required to be at the airport at least two hours in order to complete the procedure.

On the other hand, if you are travelling on an international flight, some airline carriers restrict check-in duration spans to at least 90 minutes prior to the flight’s scheduled departure.

The time restrictions may include several factors in order to carry out the procedure smoothly for all passengers. These factors can thus, be the airport being busy, baggage check (which usually have a limited time span), security check (TSA security check) and so on.

However, it is still necessary to contact the airline to get information on check-in time restrictions.

How Soon to be at the Airport?

Usually, there are restrictions set with regard to how soon passengers are required to be at the airport and when to check-in before the flight’s departure.

For domestic flights, airlines require passengers to be present at the airport at least two hours prior to their flight’s scheduled departure. And, as already mentioned above, the check-in duration is limited to 45 minutes before the flight’s boarding procedure begins.

Also, for international flights, airlines require passengers to be present at the airport at least three hours prior to their flight’s scheduled departure. Here, the check-in time is limited to 90 minutes before the flight’s boarding procedure begins.

Again, the time limit allowed for check-in and arriving at airports may differ from one airline to another.

Check-in for Multiple Flights in the Same Itinerary

There may be passengers that have multiple flights, including return flights in their itinerary, and if check-in is really required on all flights.

Therefore, in such a case, airlines may allow passengers to only check in once for the departure flight from the origin city/airport and once again from the departure city/airport for the return trip.

This is pretty convenient for passengers traveling on connecting flights. So, when you check in on your first flight, you will be considered check-in in for the remaining connecting flights, which is also the same in the case of your return trip.

What happens if a Passenger Fails to Check-in at the Airport?

As you may already know, airline carriers have strict regulations with regard to passengers flying on the carrier’s aircraft in order to get to their final destinations.

When a passenger fails to show up to check-in at the airport, the airline will simply refuse to issue him/her a boarding pass, and their seat will be given to another passenger, for example, a standby passenger. The airline carrier may also bump the “no-show” passenger to the next available flight.


If we look back for a moment, we know that there used to be just one option to check-in,  i.e., in person at the airport. But, today, things have changed for the better and convenient. Thus, using modern options, like online check-in and self-check-in kiosks at airports, you can save yourself a lot of time and avoid long queues, especially when traveling on peak days and holiday seasons.

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