There are some good reasons why you might want to check your bags for a flight early, including, so you can leave the airport and explore the city before your flight.

But just how early will airlines allow you to check your bags in for a flight?

Generally, you are able to check your bags in 4 hours before your scheduled departure time for international flights, and 3 hours before your flight departs for domestic flights.

However, it can vary by airline, as well by airport, with larger airports having more airline agents available all day and night to check in your bags.

How Early Can You Check Your Bags for a Flight?

Here is how early you can check your bags in with the major U.S. airlines.

  • Alaska Airlines: You can check your bags in 4 hours before your scheduled departure.
  • American Airlines: You can check your bags in 4 hours before your scheduled departure.
  • Delta Air Lines: You can check your bags in 6 hours before your scheduled departure.
  • Frontier: You can check your bags in 2 hours before your scheduled departure.
  • JetBlue: You can check your bags in 6 hours before your scheduled departure.
  • Southwest Airlines: You can check your bags in 4 hours before your scheduled departure.
  • Spirit Airlines: You can check your bags in 4 hours before your scheduled departure.
  • United: You can check your bags in 4 hours before your scheduled departure.

How Early Can You Check Your Bags for a Flight in Europe, Asia, and the Middle East?

In Europe, Asia, and the Middle East, you will be able to check in your bags approximately 2-4 hours before your scheduled departure time.

However, this can vary.

For example, if you are flying out of Heathrow terminals 3 and 5 with British Airways, you can drop your bags off as early as between 4pm and 10pm for flights that depart before 10am.

If you are flying with Air France out of Paris-Charles de Gaulle airport from terminal 2E, you can drop your bags off between 4pm and 10pm for flights that are scheduled to depart within 24 hours.

Generally, the more major the airline is and the larger the airport you are flying out of, the earlier you will be able to check in your bags.

How Late Can You Check Your Bags for a Flight?

Generally, to check in as well as check your bags at the airport, you must do so 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time when flying domestically, and 60 minutes when flying internationally.

Can You Store Your Luggage At the Airport?

If you are unable to check your bags in as early as you like, you might be wondering if you can store your luggage at the airport instead.

If you’re staying at a hotel, you can store your luggage with them.

But if you’re staying in an Airbnb, this is unlikely, and it’s doubtful that you want to lug your luggage while you explore the city before your flight.

While it isn’t common, some airports do have lockers that enable passengers to store their luggage at the airport.

We recommend contacting the airport you are flying out of, so you can find out if they have any luggage facilities available.

Make sure that you bring photo ID, know the daily and hourly rates, and if the luggage facilities are located in the airport itself or elsewhere.

How Early Can You Go Through Airport Security For a Flight?

If you have checked luggage, you will only want to go through airport security once you have checked in your bag.

This means that if you’re checking in a bag, you can go through airport security 4-6 hours before your flight, depending on when the airline allows you to check in your bag.

If you aren’t checking in a bag and only have a carry on, you can go through airport security earlier, though it will depend on the country and on an airport-to-airport basis.

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Robert Davis - Seasoned Flyer

Robert is a seasoned flyer who knows more about commercial air travel than practically anyone else out there due to the time he has spent at airports and on planes over the years for work.