The question of what time you should arrive at the airport is not as easy to answer as it seems. With outrageous delays at major airports like Bristol Airport, Heathrow and many more, it is now more difficult than ever to figure out when to heave your home to go to the airport, and most importantly, when to arrive. 

In this guide you will find everything you need to know about arriving at the airport, delays, how to keep cool if your travel becomes a nightmare, and we will even recommend a couple of tools so you can keep your planes in check and stay up to date on the day of your flight.

What To Consider When Calculating the Arrival Time to The Airport?

  • Who are you travelling with?

Firstly, the most important situation to consider is who is travelling with you? If you are a singleton or a group of friends travelling for pleasure, then surely the excitement of your trip will make you want to start your holiday as early as possible, maybe with a cheeky beer or glass of champagne in the airport departure lounge before you board your flight. 

If you are travelling as a family then staying in a nearby airport hotel could be your best option. It’ll allow you to check in all your luggage the night before you fly. This’ll mean a stress-free transition from the security gates to the departure lounge, again giving you more time to enjoy the terminal and start your holiday that little bit easier.

  • Where are you travelling?

With this in mind, be sure to know where you are travelling to, as if it’s an international flight, then you need to be fully checked in at least two hours before departure. In the current climate, with Covid restrictions, social distancing and strikes in the travel industry, you may have to queue for longer than normal, so do keep this in mind too.

  • How long is your visit? Is it a business trip?

The next factor to keep in mind is how long you are going for. If you are travelling to and back from a destination on the same day, say for business, then perhaps you would wish to spend as little time at the airport as possible especially if you are commuting on a regular basis,so you can be the most efficient whilst you travel day to day. 

  • Do you intend to take advantage of Duty-free Shopping at the airport?

If shopping is your thing, then airports can offer an amazing array of prestigious luxury branded products at duty-free prices so you would want to leave yourself with enough time to be able to shop in comfort rather than just settling for a trolley dash. With perfumes, wines and spirits, designer clothes and handbags along with the latest electronic gadgets heavily discontinued from high street prices what’s not to like. It may also be that you need holiday essentials and most airports, especially in the UK, offer a whole range of items that you need to enjoy your holiday and also some that you probably didn’t know even existed.

  • Are you travelling to the airport on the Day or Are you staying in a nearby Hotel?

 A really popular choice to take the stress out of knowing what time you need to leave to get to the airport on time is to stay over in a nearby hotel to the airport. Depending on your flight time, staying at nearby accommodation can take all of the stress out of the idea of being late and missing your flight. Those roadworks on the M25, unexpected car accidents, finding the car park full at Bristol Airport or Gatwick when you arrive all disintegrate if you are staying nearby overnight. An all-inclusive hotel, parking and airport transfer option means you can arrive at the airport with as much time as you would like before your flight and very often would not cost any more to do than just the parking itself.

Time to Arrive at Airport

What to Keep in mind for a smooth Flight? From Check in to Landing:


  • If you are on a celebratory trip, such as Hen or Stag do’s, be sure to stay within reasonable limits of alcohol as if you are too drunk, you will not be able to onboard the plane. 
  • Some plane tickets do not include seat bookings. Check your ticket before taking a seat on the plane to ensure that there aren’t any complications. 
  • Keep your passport handy, and ensure that your bags are securely locked to minimise the chances of stolen goods.
  • There are specific limits and restrictions on what you can take on the plane, so to be sure that you don’t have to throw away your belongings at the gate, double check on the website of the airline for the latest rules and requirements.

Where can I check if my plane is delayed?

Usually, the aeroplane brand will keep you up to date via your preferred method, be it emails, text messages or push notifications via the app. You will also be able to find updates on the website of the airport you are departing from, or simply head over to the flightaware website to check any flights and their status. If travelling through Bristol airport and are faced with a long delay, then consider exploring the best attractions near Bristol airport, to make the most of your time in Bristol before your flight.

Do I Get Compensation for Delayed or Cancelled Flights?

There are selected instances where you may be applicable for compensation. This highly depends on the airline, and in most instances whether your travel insurance covers it or not. As a general rule, most of the time if the cancellation was the airline’s responsibility and the replacement flight delays your arrival by 2+ hours or your flight was cancelled less than 14 days before departure, you are likely to be entitled for compensation. To be on the safe side, always check with your insurance and the airline. 

Whether you’re looking to save yourself the stress, or simply just fit in some retail therapy, we hope that our above guide has helped to answer the age-old question ‘what time should I arrive at the airport’.