I am new to the whole time and calendar change situation. I would like to travel to Fiji. If I left the 31st of May, and the flights state I will not arrive into Fiji until June 2nd, I would book my hotel/resort starting June 2nd, correct? Not starting from May 31st?

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    Welcome to Travel.SE. We can answer your questions here, but we cannot offer general travel advice. That said, the area/city around Nadi airport is a bit of a hole, I'd suggest looking further afield. Apr 23 at 22:44
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    Why would you book starting 2 days before you arrive? Time zone differences are just a few hours, not days (unless you're crossing the International Date Line).
    – Barmar
    Apr 24 at 14:35
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    @Barmar Time zones... For example FJ811 leaves LAX at 23:55, May 31, local time, and arrives in Suva at 05:45, June 2, local time. Total flight time 13 hours.
    – dda
    Apr 24 at 15:58
  • @dda Hence the "crossing the International Date Line" bit. Leaving 5 minutes before midnight (It will be June by the time the plane gets in the air), and crossing the date line.
    – Dan Mašek
    Apr 24 at 20:38
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    @Barmar You don't know where OP starts the trip from and what route they are taking. Fiji is close to the International Date Line, so coming from the American continents will add at least 18 hours just calculatory. When traveling from somewhere else, flight times and potential layovers can be significantly higher so I don' think it's unreasonable.
    – kopaka
    Apr 25 at 7:16

3 Answers 3


Generally speaking, when traveling all times listed are local times.(*)

For hotels, (which are notoriously stuck in a single timezone) the only time the people running them are concerned about is the official local time. That's when check-in and check-out times will be listed for, and if you call the front desk, you'll get the day staff versus the night staff based on what the local time is, not what the timezone you're calling from is.

"All times local" also applies to airplane flights. When an airline lists takeoffs and landings, the times listed are in the timezone for the respective airport in which the takeoff or landing happens. If those two airports happen to be in different timezones, the two times will be for those two different timezones (**).

Given that everyone you meet is going to act as if the local time is the "real" time, it's generally recommended to reset your primary watch to the local time as soon as you land (or cross the timezone). -- Your mobile phone will likely do it automatically, if you have cellular telephone network access.

So if your plane ticket says you land on June 2nd, that's in Fiji local time and as far as the hotel is concerned you would be walking in the door and checking in on June 2nd.(They have no clue how long you've traveled, or when or where you started from - they just care when you show up.) As lambshaanxy mentions, whether that means you want a hotel reservation starting the night of June 2nd, or whether you want a reservation starting June 1st with a late check-in, will depend a bit on the exact timing. But when you're doing the logistic planning to get you from landing to check-in, just remember: all times are Fiji local times.

*) That's something that can sometimes be difficult to wrap your head around: as far as the locals are concerned, the local time is the "real" time, the local currency is the "real" currency, the local language is the "real" language, the local customs are the "real" customs, etc. As a traveler, your have to keep in mind that it's your timezone/currency/language/customs that are the strange/unusual/"fake"/foreign ones. In some cases the locals may be happy to work in yours, but only by doing the conversion of your "foreign" to their "real" for you.

**) In some cases, for short flights across timezones, this can mean that the plane is listed as arriving "before" it even takes off.

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    A flight can arrive in 'the past' even for long flights if they cross the international date line. eg a flight that leaves Tokyo at 9pm and arrives in San Francisco 9 hours later at 3pm… on the same day
    – josh3736
    Apr 24 at 13:56
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    It doesn’t even need to be a particularly ‘short’ flight to arrive earlier than you departed, even without the international date line. Any flight from China into India that is less than 2.5 hours long will arrive ‘before’ it departed. The same for flights below certain durations from Greenland to Canada (2 or 3 hours depending on where in Canada), Iceland to Greenland (2 hours), and a handful of other places as well. Apr 24 at 14:58
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    There are actually a few flights that arrive "yesterday".
    – Hilmar
    Apr 24 at 22:47
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    Addendum: if you arrive on June 2nd at 00:30 local time, you need to book your hotel from June 1st.
    – gerrit
    Apr 25 at 6:31

If you book a hotel starting June 2nd, you are not guaranteed to be able to check in until the afternoon, typically around 3pm.

So if your flight arrives very early, you may want to book a hotel starting June 1st, and let the hotel know you will arrive on the morning of the 2nd. Alternatively, you can ask if they offer a guaranteed (paid) early check-in service.

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    The let the hotel know you'll be arriving early the next day part is crucial to avoid being treated as a no-show. Don't just tell them, make sure they acknowledge it Apr 24 at 12:38
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    What Chris says is very important. If you book a hotel from 1 June and arrive 2 June to check in without having had this confirmed beforehand by the hotel, you may find yourself completely unable to check in at all and your entire booking deleted. This happened to me once in Italy when my flight was cancelled and I was forced to stay at the airport overnight and arrive the following day. Because I hadn’t checked in the night before, the hotel cancelled my booking (with no refund) and booked my room to other guests, so I had nowhere to stay when I arrived. Apr 24 at 20:37

Unless things explicitly say otherwise, or you’re looking at something like Google Calendar (which will display events in your current local time, but should show the actual timezone if you go into details for the event), listed times for just about any travel related activity will always be in local time for the location that particular event is happening in.

This includes, but is not limited to:

  • Airline departure and arrival times (if the departure and arrival airports are in different timezones, the listed times will be for those timezones).
  • Other transport departure and arrival times.
  • Hotel check-in, check-out, and curfew times.

As an example, I recently took a business trip to Athens, Greece. The times listed for my flight from DAY to IAD in the US on the way were both in US Eastern time because both DAY and IAD are in the US Eastern time zone. For the flight from IAD to ATH the departure time was listed in US Eastern time, but the arrival time was listed in Eastern European time (because ATH is in the Eastern European time zone). The time for the scheduled taxi service from the airport to my hotel, as well as the hotel check-in and check-out times, were also listed in Eastern European time, because that’s where those things were happening.

This means you need to book the hotel for the time that it will be in Fiji when you are in Fiji, or June 2nd (at the latest, but more on that below). The same goes for any transport from the airport.

When you get there, you will find things much simpler if you update any clocks you have on you (such as a wristwatch or travel alarm clock) to match local time. Any computer you have with you may do this automatically once you have internet access (Windows and macOS do by default), any cellphone you have should usually do so automatically once you have a network connection (though if it’s not WiFi capable, you will probably need active cellular service), and any smartwatch you may have will often do so as well.

As a general bit of advice, you should pay attention to the check-in time for the hotel. Most places only let you check in some time mid-afternoon at the earliest, irrespective of how long you’ve been traveling, and will often assume that if you have not shown up by midnight of the same day you’re a no-show. If you will be arriving significantly earlier than mid-afternoon, you have a couple of options:

  • The hotel may offer an option for early check-in, either at a premium cost, or just as a free add-on. You must explicitly opt-in for such an offering if it exists, even if the hotel site lists it as an option, and you should be certain to get confirmation from the hotel that you will be checking in early.
  • The hotel may offer luggage storage irrespective of check-in time. In this case, you can drop your luggage off at the hotel itself, and then go sightseeing or grab a bite to eat while you wait for check-in time. This can usually be requested on arrival, but may also have an associated extra cost.

In the absence of the above two options, or if your flight is getting in very early in the morning, book the hotel for June 1, and inform them prior to traveling that you will be arriving early on June 2. This is the costliest option, and you will need to get active confirmation from the hotel that you will be arriving far later than normal for a June 1 booking, but it should essentially always be an option.

The same approach is also preferred if you’re getting in very late in the day on June 2, book for June 2, but let the hotel know that you will be arriving very late in the day to make sure that you don’t get counted as a no-show.

  • If you arrive early and your room is not available, some hotels (especially higher-end ones in holiday destinations) can give you access to a courtesy room, to the gym facilities and/or spa before you get your room or after you have checked out. A courtesy room is just a shared room where you can get access to a bathroom with a shower. All of these options allow you to take a shower and change clothes on arrival or just before leaving while you don't have access to your actual room. But ask beforehand, this is not always available everywhere, and some hotels push you to book the night before.
    – jcaron
    Apr 24 at 15:25
  • The Google Calendar mention is worth noting. If you're entering these things into your calendar, make sure that you select "Use different time zones for start/end times", then you can enter your flight time as 21:00 EDT (Eastern Daylight) and arrival time as 0900 EET (Eastern European) (as randomly selected times/zones). This way your calendar will show accurate times no matter what time zone your viewing device (like your phone) is currently in.
    – FreeMan
    Apr 24 at 17:39
  • Another option if you arrive early and your room is not available, depending on the length of wait and time of day, would be the hotel restaurant / bistro / bar Apr 27 at 4:20

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