PhilippNagel commented:

3 hours is a pretty common recommendation or even requirement these days with extra security everywhere.

What regular, commercial international flight requires (not recommmends) a check-in at least 3 hours before departure?

I have crossposted the question at:

  • Are you falling over the word 'require' instead of 'recommend'? If so, language sites may welcome you. Here on travel we usually take the word 'recommend' as 'you really need to do this'.
    – Willeke
    Apr 11, 2020 at 10:16
  • @Willeke the quote clearly says "recommendation or even requirement", so the author is making the difference between recommendation and requirement, the same way all English dictionaries do. This is a genuine question by the way, in case anyone wonders. If some flights do require such a check-in, I'd really want to know to plan accordingly, since 3 hours is twice longer than the longest requirement I have seen so far. Apr 11, 2020 at 10:18
  • The use of the Quora link has been discussed by the moderators and while not wanted, it is not against the TSE rules.
    – Willeke
    Apr 11, 2020 at 11:37
  • if you want to post SE questions on Q to somehow prevent people posting SE questions on Q (I don't follow but ok) why does that mean you have to clutter up your SE question with a link to the Q question? I don't see how it helps anyone. (Maybe hide it in a comment or something?) Apr 12, 2020 at 12:49

2 Answers 2



Required means that you will be denied check-in if you arrive at the line in front of the counter 2:59 minutes before scheduled departure. That's a ridiculous requirement and no check-in cutoff is anywhere near that time frame.

The three hour recommendation is primarily for the convenience of the air line (not yours) but is has no legal standing.

  • It's not entirely for the airline's benefit. Because if you show up at 1.01 before your departure, and there are long lines for checkin and security and you don't make it to your gate then the flight is going to leave without you. Apr 11, 2020 at 15:39
  • It is impossible to know how long the line is before you arrive. 3 hours means that they can process everybody if they all arrive at that time. But if you think "Ah, there will be enough time for checkin if I arrive 1 hour before" and most other passengers take the same chance, you'll be disappointed. Apr 11, 2020 at 19:42
  • Accepted till someone shows a counterexample, instead of trying to change the dictionary (no idea why so many people don't understand the meaning of "required"!). Apr 13, 2020 at 11:50

Depending on your definition of Requires and of Check In, Air Canada says:

In the "When you should check in" for flights "From Algiers (Algeria), Casablanca (Morocco) and Tel Aviv (Israel)" - 180 minutes. It's true that checkin only closes 1 hour before the flight leaves, but if everyone showed up 1 hour before the flight left, some of them would not get checked in. Does "should" mean "requires"? You tell me.

Further, the same page says (twice!) that when flying "To the U.S. From Toronto Pearson",

For departures before 10 am, wait times are longer than usual at U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP) and Canadian Air Transport Security Association (CATSA) pre-board screening. You should arrive at the airport three (3) hours before your flight's scheduled departure time. Pre-board security screening for departures to the U.S. opens at 4:00 AM.

I routinely arrive at Pearson 3 hours before my flight leaves. Yes, I usually then spend about an hour at the gate area, mostly because I have Nexus and thus get the express security lanes and a quicker experience if I'm preclearing to the US. But sometimes it's a little less than an hour. I don't find 3 hours an unusual recommendation.

  • 1
    I usually try to be at the airport three hours before European flights, (although the recommendation is just two hours and minimum time one,) as public transport can and at times has hick-ups and cars fail, traffic jams form and other mishap is not uncommon.
    – Willeke
    Apr 11, 2020 at 11:30
  • And ‘should arrive’ is an example of an order collinsdictionary.com/dictionary/english/should
    – Traveller
    Apr 11, 2020 at 11:33

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