Wednesday weirdness: How late do you leave it?

As I was standing in the Priority check in line for a Virgin Australia flight at Sydney airport, a young guy tapped me on the shoulder and asked if he could squeeze to the front of the line as his plane was leaving “in ten minutes“. He sprinted to the counter. We watched the check in clerk smile at him, reach for the phone presumably to check with the gate. She shook her head and he came past me looking furious.

Whats the latest you have got to an airport and got onto a flight?

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  1. Back in the 1980’s I once made it with less then 10 minutes prior to departure time. Flights weren’t full back then and they didn’t close the door prior to departure time.

    For most airports I try to arrive 60 minutes prior to flight time if I have my boarding pass. These days you have to allow 20 minutes for security even in a priority line.

  2. When I was younger (teen years) I made it to the airport with about 15 minutes or less to spare, I had written down the departure time wrong, used my teenage year social awkwardness to just run/cut in line where needed but made it on the plane just as they were closing the door.

    Tried the same time last year on B6 in Boston but as I had forgotten to check in online they didn’t let me try the ‘run’ to the gate.

  3. call me weird, but I’ve never arrived at an airport with less than 1 hour left to departure. That of course doesnt count connecting flights where I’m running between F and C concourses at O’Hare with 10 minutes left between flights more often than I’d like!

  4. Like @LF above, I cannot control the connections or the delays. But for my part, I’m always early. I build extra time into my personal schedule if only because an error would cause serious inconvenience and even grief. When I do my part, everytime, it is easier to blame th screw-ups on the airlines. I use the lounges when I can and I don’t always need internet access to be productive: A pencil and paper is usually enough to keep me occupied. Being late tends to make me tense, a state thatI do not enjoy. I don’t use alcohol, so staying calm through the fray is my responsibility. I have some ‘status’, at least enough to board early enough to stow my one bag, and let it go at that. You can bet that I don’t pester or beg of gate agents. I simply check in, quietly assure that any status is recognized and take my place in the proper line. It is only transportation, folks! If one wishes a pampered vacation, the cabin of ab airliner is damn sure not the place to find it. In other words, chill a bit! If you cannot make the declared check-in time, change to a different flight. Better yet, adjust your personal schedule to allow for the ‘stuff’ that may happen. And if you do show up late, please do not expect me to grant you MY place in the line – or my seat – just because YOU WERE LATE. I DO NOT CARE why you were late or how urgent you believe that your trip may be. I’m not going to yeild my check-in space, nor my seat. I got there ahead of you, mostly because I planned well and followed the guidlines. No matter how much you scream, beg, cry or whine, you lack of planning is NOT my problem – of the gate agent’s problem. Go away. Suck a lemon, find another flight and please, stop slowing up the rest of us. Accommodating your LATE arrival is NOT our problem. The other 50 – 350 passengers on your ‘critical flight’ simply do not give a shit! You know who you are and please, go away.

  5. Two weeks ago I was caught in traffic, and instead of arriving at the airport an hour ahead of time, I just barely made it in time to board the aircraft… I boarded 10 minutes before departure, and that was only because the flight was delayed 12 minutes.

    Last summer I had a really close transfer at ORD (inbound flight 90 minutes late)… I walked off one plane at one gate, crossed the hallway to board the gate immediately opposite the one that I landed on — right as they were calling my seating area.

  6. in June 2003 I was living in San Diego and was getting married just outside of Osaka Japan. JAL had a flight on Thursday at 2 in the afternoon leaving LAX arriving in Japan Friday evening. My wedding was 11am Saturday.

    I left San Diego about 5:30am but because of traffic tie ups at the 5/805 merge near Del Mar and at the 5/405 because of construction, I didn’t arrive at LAX until 1:30pm.

    When I got to the counter they said I couldnt get on the flight, so I took out my wedding invitations and cried “I am getting married, I have to be on this flight.”

    Eventually JAL’s LAX manager came down, asked me if I had any checked luggage. I said “no” and he walked me through security and got me on the plane.

  7. I got on a jetblue flight from Oakland to IAD in 2006 arriving at the checkin desk 19 minutes before after a huge snarl on I80. They reopened the flight to check me in and told me to run.

    Luckily, no queue at security and made it with 3 minutes to spare.

    On connections, I think I broke the world record for running from C31 to C9 in ORD last year. Made it just in time to be the last one to board and even discovered I had got upgraded and they hadn’t given it away.

  8. I’m almost never earlier than 1 hour prior to departure for domestic flights. In terms of needing to check in and check bags (which I almost never do), the closest I’ve cut it is 25 minutes at SLC. When checked in online, I’ve probably done 15 or 20 minutes, but for that close I’m normally trying to switch to the earlier flight and am backed up on a later flight. There are plenty of airport+time combinations where security is reliably quick, even without things like TSA Precheck.

  9. A few weeks I arrived at JFK for a domestic flight 35 minutes before take off at T3 (absolutely horrible traffic on the way to JFK). Frantically ran through sky priority and sprinted to the gate (this was before I knew to enter at T2). Made it to gate as they were calling zone 4.

    Normally I am will get to the airport 45 minutes before boarding (so about 1.5 hours before take off). You never know how long security will take…

  10. I’ve gotten to the gate (having just arrived at the airport) after everyone has boarded on a number of occasions…including BA flights to London from JFK.

    Only missed one flight ever (ignoring misconnects), that was a day it took over 3 hours to get out to JFK from midtown. It was the worst traffic I’d seen in 20 years. Three wrecks on the Van Wyck.

    There’s always “the next flight.”

  11. I never arrived at an airport later than an hour ahead of time, but on our Honeymoon we had a connection to make at LAX. We got off one plane and sprinted to the terminal for our flight to Paris. The agent saw us coming and when we got close he said “Sorry, the door is closed” and a heartbeat later… “Kidding!” I was too relieved to be upset! He let us through and closed the door right behind us.

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