Cutting It Close? Not a Good Idea.
The trouble begins when my wife asks, “What time do you want me to take you to the airport?” and I say, “At noon.”
Her response is 100% predictable: “What?? Your flight doesn’t leave until 3 o’clock!”
We’ve had this conversation almost word-for-word many times over the years and it turns out that we’re not alone. Apparently, the question of when to leave for the airport is argued everywhere.
As a public service, I did a bit of research and can say that the consensus among a half dozen travel professionals seems to be that we should all arrive at the airport no less than two hours before the scheduled departure time for a domestic flight and three hours if it’s an international flight. It’s a good idea to add another 15 minutes if you’re checking a bag.
Most of those same frequent travelers also suggested allowing additional time if it’s a major holiday or bad weather or if there’s some big sporting event going on.
On the other hand, if you’re leaving from your home and you’re thoroughly familiar with the layout of your airport, you can probably cut it a little closer since you know where to park and how long it will take you to get from there to the check-in counter.
Amtrak presents a whole different scenario, especially for long-distance trains that run once a day. You do NOT want to miss one of those! Call “Julie” at 1-800-USA-RAIL well in advance for an update on your train’s arrival time. In fact call her serval times, then leave for the railroad station far enough in advance to get there at least 30 minutes before the train is due to arrive.
Remember: there is only one thing worse than missing your flight . . . and that’s missing your train! Unless you’re on the Northeast Corridor, the next one probably won’t be along until tomorrow. And, if you’re traveling in a sleeper, tomorrow’s train could very well be sold out. So–plane or train–allow plenty of time.