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How Early Can I Check My Bags?

There are many reasons why travelers may want or need to check their bags early. However, it may not be as easy as approaching the desk and leaving your bags whenever you want.

According to the TSA Website – Frequently Asked Questions, it is advised to check with the airline you are flying with directly for their check in standards and guidelines.

Everywhere in the world is different. For domestic flights within the US, and most international flights, baggage will not be accepted to be checked in more than 4 hours before departure. However, across the other side of the world in Australia, some airlines and smaller airports won’t accept it more than 2 hours before departure. It will always pay to check with the airline directly no matter what country in the world you are flying in.

Checked Bags Guide by Airline

With over 50 airlines that fly within the United States alone, it is safe to say that you will get some variants in the rules regarding when you can check your bag in for your flight.

Check out the table below for some of the more popular airlines, and never forget to check with the airline directly about their requirements.

AirlineEarly Checked Bag Time LimitAirline Reference
Southwest4 hoursSouthwest.com
JetBlue6 hours, 4 hours for San Juan and Puerto RicoJetblue.com
American Airlines4 hoursAA.com
Delta Airlines24 hoursDelta.com
Alaska Airlines4 hoursAlaskaair.com
United Airlines4 hoursUnited.com

Can You Check Bags Early and Leave the Airport?

Do you need to check out of your hotel early, yet your flight is later in the evening? This is a common occurrence for travellers, especially if you have a hire car that requires being returned early too. So then you wonder, “what should I do with all this spare time?”. Naturally, you want to drop your bags and then take in another day of exploring before departure. But can you check your bags in early and physically leave the airport? Again, this is something that should be confirmed with the airline you are flying with, as well as the airport you are departing from.

If you think this is going to be a predicament that you will be in, consider these things before committing to booking that late flight home –

  • Some hotels in some destinations offer a luggage check in service and boarding pass printing which can save you time. Your hotel may also have an agreement with a car hire company, where you can have your car picked up, instead of you dropping it off. Consider booking with these types of services, to save you time and to save you getting to the airport too early.
  • Really think about the location of the airport and if there is actually anything to do nearby, especially if you don’t have your own transport anymore. Some major cities have fast train connections back into the main tourist regions, so depending on where you are travelling and how much time you have, this may be an option.
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Do Airports Have Lockers for Luggage?

Those travellers who are heading on a long trip, moving, holidaying in multiple climates, or choose to stay over elsewhere for a few days before heading to the final destination, may only want to have carry-on luggage for those in between journeys and not take all their checked in luggage. While you may get lucky and find an airport that has lockers for luggage, they aren’t as common as they were prior to the terrorist attacks of September 11. Check out this table for airports that still have luggage lockers. https://thepointsguy.com/guide/store-bags-at-the-airport/

You could also check nearby airport hotels to see if they offer luggage storage. Some charge a small fee for secure storage, and offer this service to those who aren’t staying there. Some major train stations also have paid luggage storage, so you may need to endure the hassle of transporting your additional luggage a little bit further, just for ease of travelling those few days.

Our Top Tips for a Worry Free Check In

A lot of frequent travellers say the most stressful part of air travel is checking in. This is why a lot of people want to check in early, so they can begin to relax.

Here are our tip tips to allow for a worry free check in.

  • Don’t forget to always allow enough time for traffic, parking,and the walk from the parking lot.
  • If you do check in early, having an app like ‘Trip It’ is useful. Amongst other features, it will give you real time information about flight times and departure gates.
  • If having  to be at the airport early to check in your luggage is a stress you just don’t want, invest in a high quality carry-on bag. Just don’t forget to comply with the TSA requirements for carry-on luggage.

Final Thoughts

By ensuring you check the airline guidelines and allow enough time to get to the airport, then check in will be a breeze. Use our top tips as well as the TSA advice for checking in and security screening, and you can start your travels stress and worry free.

Hayden Wall

Hayden is the founder of Travel Gear Discounts and tries to vacation as much as possible. He loves finding the latest travel accessories that will make getting out easier and planning the perfect weekend getaway.