Don’t Run the Risk of Missing Your Flight
The worst way to begin your vacation or an important trip is to miss your flight. Missing a flight can ruin your travel schedule, cost extra fees, and not to mention ruin your mood. No one wants to begin a trip that way! So, just how early should you get to the airport?
Unless you like taking risks, it’s still better to give yourself some extra time. Times vary at major China airports, but mostly it will depend on a) whether or not you need to check in at a manned desk and b) if you have cabin baggage to check in.
How Early Should I Get to the Airport for a Domestic Flight?
For domestic flights at Beijing airport, if you have bags to check, get there 1.5 hours early; if you have no bags to check, make it 60 minutes.
On busy days, like the day before National Day / May 1st Day/ Chinese new year, you might want to add an hour.
At Terminal 3, you must be checked in at least 45 minutes before your scheduled departure time. Additionally, you are required to be at the gate and ready to board at least 10–15 minutes before your scheduled departure time. Customers who fail to complete the check-in time limits by these deadlines will not be able to travel on desired flights and change fees may apply.
How Early Should I Get to the Airport for an International Flight?
For international flights, get there 2.5 hours ahead of departure. However, you may want to pad your time a little bit to allow extra check-in time if:
- You’re traveling during a peak time (major holiday, etc.)
- You’re checking baggage.
- You’re departing from a large or exceptionally busy airport.
At Terminal 3, you must be checked in at least 60-75 minutes before your scheduled departure time. Additionally, you are required to be at the gate and ready to board at least 10–15 minutes before your scheduled departure time.
Five Things to Consider Before You Arrive Early to the Airport
- Do you have to check luggage, or can you use carry-on to save time?
- How long will it take to walk from security to your gate?
- Is the airport likely to be busy that day? Busy times include weekends, first weekend of summer holidays, national holiday.
- Are you traveling with children or elderly relatives who might slow down the rest of the group?
- Can you save time when at the airport by checking in online or by taking advantage of priority boarding?
Other Things to Consider:
You should also consider how big the departure airport is and how busy it can be. Make sure that you check the airline’s guidance and rules. Some airlines have strict recommendations.
If it’s a busy time of year then this could be even longer. At busy times of day you will need to allow more time too. If you have status with the airline, pre-screening, or first class tickets then you might be able to use faster lines.
If you are traveling with a group, then remember that if the group gets slowed down it could be very expensive if you all missed the flight. Be sure to learn the rules associated with the airline, and understand how restrictive the ticket is, so that you know how much risk you can expose yourself to.
Arriving at the Airport Too Early Isn’t Always Bad, You Can:
1: Relax in the lounge
There are airport lounge services for all classes of ticket holder, and many have showers and other nice amenities. you can book a single visit pass online, or if you fly regularly join a lounge membership so that you can access lounges in more than one airport.
2: Check out the shops
Beijing International airport is full of stores, including bookstores, convenience stores, souvenir shops and more. You can buy local teas to take home with you, or look for gifts in the duty-free areas. There are some stunning boutiques in T3 that are great if you want to bring a treat back for that special someone.
3: Free ways to freshen up
There are some free showers at the E gate at Terminal 3. One is between Ferragamo and Hugo Boss, and the other is between Montblanc at Bally. They are spacious, feature lockers for safety, and have good water pressure. If the showers there are all taken, then you may want to head to Terminal 2, where there are some pay-to-use showers near Gate D5.
4: Treat Yourself
There is a small spa at T3, called Le SPA, that offers traditional Chinese foot massages. If you want something more and have a lot of time you can head to Hilton Beijing Airport to visit their fitness center, pool and spa, although there is a fee to use these.