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What Time Should I Get To JFK for an International Flight?

  • Air Travel
  • Renee Martin
  • 4 minutes

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Flying out of JFK Airport and wondering at what time you should get to JFK Airport for an international flight? Let’s take a look.

Seasoned travelers and first-time flyers can be equally perplexed when the ideal time is to arrive at JFK before an international flight. Here’s the thing. If you arrive too late, you might miss your flight. And if you arrive too early, you will have way too much time to kill and be left wondering what there is to do at JFK Airport.

JFK Airport
Eric Salard, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

The best time to arrive at JFK for your flight

Many factors affect this, including the weather, your flight schedule, JFK parking space availability. It would be best if you consider all of these when planning your arrival.

This way, you’ll be following the airline’s instructions and will be aware of any delays or cancelations.

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What time should I get to JFK for an international flight?

If you need to catch an international flight from JFK, you must arrive at the airport at least 3 hours before your flight.

If you want to be extra careful, plan to arrive four hours before your flight departs. You don’t want to miss a trip, especially one that will take you to another country.

Immigration JFK Airport
Beatrice Murch, CC BY-SA 2.0, via Wikimedia Commons

Remember that JFK is a very busy airport. Therefore, you should arrive early enough to avoid any delays caused by public transport or heavy traffic along the way. And, because you never know what will happen along the way, you must plan ahead of time and allow for unanticipated events. You don’t want to miss an international flight because of a minor oversight!

What time should I get to JFK for a domestic flight?

If you are flying somewhere within the United States, we recommend that you arrive at least two hours in advance. Even if it is within the country, you’ll still need to allow adequate time for check-in and luggage processing. You don’t want to end up short of time, which is why you should arrive two hours before the scheduled flight departure time.

Do I really need to get to the airport 2 hours early?

Yes, you do. Even if you aren’t checking luggage, most airlines need you to be at the airport at least an hour before your departure time. This is to ensure that you have enough time to complete all the necessary security and ticket checks. If you’re checking luggage, you must allow time for that too. That’s why you need to get to the airport at least 2 hours early.

JFK Airport
w_lemay, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

How many hours before should I reach the airport for international flights?

We recommend that you get to the airport at least 3 hours before your scheduled departure time for international flights. Confirm whether there are any travel restrictions for your trip. Make sure you bring a completed copy of any required travel documents to the airport if your destination requires them.

Why do you have to be at the airport 3 hours early for international flights?

Before boarding their flights, international travelers need to go through a few more steps than domestic travelers. You’ll need to go through immigration and visa/passport and the usual security checks and screening.

Also, when traveling abroad, you’re more likely to travel with more than just a carry-on bag. This means the luggage drop-off line can extend your time at the airport.

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How early can you check your bags in at JFK Airport?

Most international airlines operating out of JFK will allow you to check-in 3 to 4 hours before your flight.

Here’s more info on top-rated airport parking, the best parking spots in your city, the most affordable insurance for your car, and top-rated car washes near you.

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