What time at the airport for 5:40 AM departure?

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#1
Central Indiana
352 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
no, I'm not the pilot and I'm not traveling via UPS in a box . But the cheapest way to get the family to Seattle from Indianapolis for our next cruise is to leave at 5:40 AM... And this is the GOOD part, the BAD part is the return, but I digress...

So, what time should we be at the airport? We live about 40 minutes away and while airport hotels have deals to park free with 1 night stay, by the time we check out and wake up the hotel van guy it's still 40 minutes...
#2
Near Orlando but California Dreaming
14,150 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Most carriers cut off bag check 45 minutes before flight time. And considering you might have to stand in line to check those bags 15-20 minutes, I'd plan on walking into the airport--not parking the car but being in that funky lighted breezeway at the airport--75 minutes prior to your flight time. That would be my bare minimum.
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#3
Tacoma, Wa, USA
8,006 Posts
Joined Dec 2000
Airport may not even be open yet, but I'd be back planning with the intention of walking thru the airport doors with luggage to check in no later than 4:15AM
#4
Petaluma, Ca. 94954
28,405 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
We were confronted with a similar question on our last cruise- a 6 am flight. We have had early flights like that in the past, and have found little activity at SFO prior to 5am. So we planned for 5am, and arrived at 4:50. There were small lines, and things moved quickly.

So, for a 5:40, I would say around 4:30 would be good.
#5
85,230 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Originally posted by turbo46032
no, I'm not the pilot and I'm not traveling via UPS in a box . But the cheapest way to get the family to Seattle from Indianapolis for our next cruise is to leave at 5:40 AM... And this is the GOOD part, the BAD part is the return, but I digress...

So, what time should we be at the airport? We live about 40 minutes away and while airport hotels have deals to park free with 1 night stay, by the time we check out and wake up the hotel van guy it's still 40 minutes...
What airline are you on. I ask because many of the airline web sites show by airport the time that their check in opens at the airport and some show more such as what time security opens.

Keith
#6
Canada
4,934 Posts
Joined Feb 2005
Originally posted by CruiserBruce
We were confronted with a similar question on our last cruise- a 6 am flight. We have had early flights like that in the past, and have found little activity at SFO prior to 5am. So we planned for 5am, and arrived at 4:50. There were small lines, and things moved quickly.

So, for a 5:40, I would say around 4:30 would be good.
If checking luggage this is what I would do too.

I live with carry-on only, print boarding pass and go straight through to security. I would arrive at 5, that would give me plenty of time to get through security and get to a gate.
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Monicajay

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#7
Fortaleza, Brazil
1,560 Posts
Joined Jul 2008
I think no later than 4:30 is wise. Even if the counter were to open after that, people will be in line. BTW, did you check what time the counters and security lines DO open?
#8
2,016 Posts
Joined May 2007
I have booked early flights out of CMH (Columbus, OH) and been at the counter with luggage and not one airline employee in sight . Then the next wait was for TSA to finish coffee and clocking in. Much nicer to be at the front of each line, but there was still the waiting. Good guess in this case would be 1 hour lead time. You are probably going to be on a regional jet to Chicago so it will load quickly. That early there will only be one TSA line so you want to be at the head end.
#9
Near Orlando but California Dreaming
14,150 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
The ticket counters at IND open about two hours before the first flight. TSA at IND never closes, although they tend to not allow passengers into the sterile concourse after the last flight until two hours prior to the first. (ie between about 10pm and 4am)
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My all in a 20" wheeled bag for a warm weather cruise packing list here
20" rolling bag packing list for two weeks in a cool/cold climate here.
#10
6,927 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by turbo46032
So, what time should we be at the airport? We live about 40 minutes away and while airport hotels have deals to park free with 1 night stay, by the time we check out and wake up the hotel van guy it's still 40 minutes...
Most hotels these days offer automatic checkout, so you shouldn't have to physically go to the desk and check out. And if you let them know the night before that you need the van pick up and X:XX, there should be no need to "wake up the hotel van guy." In other words, if you'd rather spend a little extra time sleeping, you should be able to check out and get a hotel van in much less than the 40 minutes it would take you to drive from home. (Whether the add'l 30-35 minutes of sleep is worth it is up for debate of course.)

Originally posted by monicajay
If checking luggage this is what I would do too.

I live with carry-on only, print boarding pass and go straight through to security. I would arrive at 5, that would give me plenty of time to get through security and get to a gate.
Given that boarding for the 5:40 flight will close around 5:30, I'm not sure I'd say that a 5:00 am arrival would allow plenty of time. There are apt to be several flights heading out between 5:40 and 6:15, so there could be quite a few pax arriving to check bags, and quite a few people getting in line for security. I'd want more than 30 minutes to be safe.
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Meg

Remembering 34 past cruises:
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#11
Petaluma, Ca. 94954
28,405 Posts
Joined Jul 2000
Meg, what you are missing in Monica's quote is the reference from my post, saying about 70 minutes in advance for this very early flight would works fine. I relayed our experience with a very early flight where 60-70 minutes in advance worked just fine, not once, but actually several times. And, many airlines now say 60-90 minutes is OK for domestic flights with checked bags.
#12
Central Indiana
352 Posts
Joined Jun 2006
In the 'Old' IND terminal there were plenty of hotels within walking distance (almost). Now that the IND airport terminal was moved halfway to Terre Haute I kind of wonder about the effect for early flights... i.e. a 2 min van ride becomes 15+...

Thanks for the info!
#13
6,927 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by CruiserBruce
Meg, what you are missing in Monica's quote is the reference from my post, saying about 70 minutes in advance for this very early flight would works fine. I relayed our experience with a very early flight where 60-70 minutes in advance worked just fine, not once, but actually several times. And, many airlines now say 60-90 minutes is OK for domestic flights with checked bags.
I'm not missing anything. Monica said she would arrive at 5am for a 5:40 flight. That is less than the 60-70 or 60-90 minute window you refer to. Granted, Monica said that SHE would not be checking a bag; I don't know if the OP plans to check a bag or not. I simply clarified to the OP that if she does as Monica would, and arrives at 5, she really has only 30 minutes to check a bag (if necessary) and get through security. Could it be done? Sure, if the lines are short or non-existent. WILL they be short or non-existent? No way to tell. So I certainly wouldn't characterize it as definitely being "plenty of time."
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Meg

Remembering 34 past cruises:
25 Royal Caribbean, 5 Celebrity, 2 Carnival, 1 Princess, 2 Oceania

Anticipating 2 future cruises:
Anthem of the Seas--5 night, Bermuda, 6/2017
Anthem of the Seas--5 night, Bermuda, 9/2017
#14
Near Orlando but California Dreaming
14,150 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Originally posted by turbo46032
In the 'Old' IND terminal there were plenty of hotels within walking distance (almost). Now that the IND airport terminal was moved halfway to Terre Haute I kind of wonder about the effect for early flights... i.e. a 2 min van ride becomes 15+...

Thanks for the info!
There's either a Fairfield or a Hampton that I've stayed at a couple of times less than five minutes from the new terminal.
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Past Cruises...
April 2014--Paul Gauguin to French Polynesia
June 2012--Windstar Wind Surf Back-To-Back, Rome to Venice to Athens
October 2011--Disney Dream Bahamas
October 2005--RCCL Mariner Western Caribbean
August 2002--Disney Magic Eastern Caribbean

Three weeks in Europe (two on a ship) with a 20" roll aboard and a tote bag--packing list here.
My all in a 20" wheeled bag for a warm weather cruise packing list here
20" rolling bag packing list for two weeks in a cool/cold climate here.
#15
Near Orlando but California Dreaming
14,150 Posts
Joined Sep 2002
Originally posted by waterbug123
I'm not missing anything. Monica said she would arrive at 5am for a 5:40 flight. That is less than the 60-70 or 60-90 minute window you refer to. Granted, Monica said that SHE would not be checking a bag; I don't know if the OP plans to check a bag or not. I simply clarified to the OP that if she does as Monica would, and arrives at 5, she really has only 30 minutes to check a bag (if necessary) and get through security. Could it be done? Sure, if the lines are short or non-existent. WILL they be short or non-existent? No way to tell. So I certainly wouldn't characterize it as definitely being "plenty of time."
most carriers now have a 45 minute prior to flight time bag check cut off. Just an FYI.
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Past Cruises...
April 2014--Paul Gauguin to French Polynesia
June 2012--Windstar Wind Surf Back-To-Back, Rome to Venice to Athens
October 2011--Disney Dream Bahamas
October 2005--RCCL Mariner Western Caribbean
August 2002--Disney Magic Eastern Caribbean

Three weeks in Europe (two on a ship) with a 20" roll aboard and a tote bag--packing list here.
My all in a 20" wheeled bag for a warm weather cruise packing list here
20" rolling bag packing list for two weeks in a cool/cold climate here.
#16
6,927 Posts
Joined Feb 2007
Originally posted by ducklite
most carriers now have a 45 minute prior to flight time bag check cut off. Just an FYI.
Yes, I know. In fact, for some it's actually 30 minutes. I also know that 30 or even 45 minutes can be cutting it too close if the bag drop and/or security lines are longer than usual. With a vacation on the line, I'd suggest that the OP arrive at the airport at least a full hour early, and perhaps even a bit earlier.
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Meg

Remembering 34 past cruises:
25 Royal Caribbean, 5 Celebrity, 2 Carnival, 1 Princess, 2 Oceania

Anticipating 2 future cruises:
Anthem of the Seas--5 night, Bermuda, 6/2017
Anthem of the Seas--5 night, Bermuda, 9/2017
#17
Lafayette, IN
10,320 Posts
Joined Jan 2005
I had a 5:40 flight out of IND in December. We arrived and parked the car at about 4, meaning we got to the terminal at about 4:15. We were flying United and I believe they were just opening the counter then. There was a bit of a lineup, but the biggest delay were some international folks who didn't have their travel documents in order.
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