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Does anyone know the "rules" on checking in for International Travel without bags?

Apr 6, 2017
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Can I just do it on-line 24 hours ahead--and just show up at the airport 90 min ahead, go thru security and then to the gate? (I used to always check a bag but now that it costs a bunch of money--its a carryon and backpack....) thanks (I know they talk about 3 hours ahead but in this case--do I really need to do that?)(ps this is USA to London)
 
Mar 29, 2016
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You may depending on the fare class you bought. Basic economy tickets often have to be checked in at the airport. You may also be blocked from checking in online if the airline has a passport/visa question or if you have been selected for secondary security. So the answer is maybe. Just try and see if it's successful. In any case, you have to have a passport/document check at some point prior to boarding.
 

justlisa

Feb 12, 2019
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International travel will require someone to check your passport in person before boarding. Some airlines allow their gate agents to do this, some require the agents at the check-in counter to do this. On an airline that allows their gate agents to do this I know they've verified my passport after the cutoff for checking in (ie less than 60 minutes before the flight), but there still is a cut off time for checking passports (I'm not aware of what it actually is, I just go straight to the gate when I get there to show my passport).
 
Feb 3, 2017
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I only ever travel with a carry on and always get to the airport 3 hours for an international flight; I often don't need all that time but there is no way to know in advance what sorts of lines/time there might be for security and passport check -

In any case, given the time they shut down the computers for check-in - 90 minutes is really risky.
 

AMA

Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
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I have not been able to do online check-in for international flights for a couple of years now, no matter my baggage situation. You used to be able to add your passport number to your reservation, but it seems like those days are gone. Be there 3 hours early. The check-in lines are looooooong.
 

Patina

Verified Member
Dec 22, 2015
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I only ever travel with a carry on and always get to the airport 3 hours for an international flight; I often don't need all that time but there is no way to know in advance what sorts of lines/time there might be for security and passport check -

In any case, given the time they shut down the computers for check-in - 90 minutes is really risky.
We do exactly this....never check bags but always arrive 3 hours ahead of time.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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Some airlines allow for a preliminary "check-in" but do not give a boarding pass until a passport is seen at the check-in counter.

May I ask why one would even consider showing up at the airport 90 minutes before an international flight? There are always ways to constructively spend th extra time at the airport -- reading, sending emails, etc. Why take the risk?
 
Feb 3, 2019
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I have not been able to do online check-in for international flights for a couple of years now, no matter my baggage situation. You used to be able to add your passport number to your reservation, but it seems like those days are gone.
I've had no issues checking in online for international flights on AA or BA over the past several years, and have just entered my passport number as part of the online check-in process. Delta was also fine checking me in online for my last U.S.-bound flight.

I had to check in with an agent on my return flight to my current country of residence, though, because Delta needed to verify I was in possession of the proper immigration documents for my open-ended stay.
 
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Neil Maley

Moderator
Staff Member
Advocate
Dec 27, 2014
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www.promalvacations.com
Assume that the worst case scenario will happen - you will have to stand in line and wait for an agent to verify your passport and prepare accordingly. We have plenty of complaints here about people that arrived too late and had to buy new tickets because the computers locked. You are spending a lot of money to fly - get there early and either go to the lounge or just sit and enjoy yourself watching other people. You don't want to come back here and tell us you were locked out from checking in because there isn't anything we would be able to do to help.

Read this post - it will tell you how this can happen:

 

jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
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"Dashing into the airport, zipping through security and jumping on the plane" ... these are concepts that people like to talk about at cocktail parties or write about on a website. In reality, my colleagues are right. We have thousands of successful flights among us. Get there early, have a meal, get some work done, take a walk and window shop ... don't be the one standing at the gate waving goodbye to your plane. You just never know and it might be a very expensive lesson.
 
Feb 3, 2020
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International travel will require someone to check your passport in person before boarding. Some airlines allow their gate agents to do this, some require the agents at the check-in counter to do this. On an airline that allows their gate agents to do this I know they've verified my passport after the cutoff for checking in (ie less than 60 minutes before the flight), but there still is a cut off time for checking passports (I'm not aware of what it actually is, I just go straight to the gate when I get there to show my passport).
Always arriving 2 to 3 hours before your international flight is good advice. I’ve learned to expect the unexpected. You can be pulled aside by TSA or Customs for things that take time, for example — even if that’s never happened to you hundreds of times before. Other stuff can happen.

Get to the airport early. Enjoy the lounge, or eat a nice meal at a restaurant. Eliminates lots of needless stress.
 
Sep 19, 2015
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In the end I was wondering if I would need to verify my passport before the check in window closed--regardless of whether I had a boarding pass from online or not. Appreciate everyone's advice--I best not risk it...thanks
SteveG each airline policy varies — and they can step up enforcement- If the airline does not have the passport info “saved” or scanned you may not be allowed to check in online.

I hope for the best and plan for the worst.
 
Feb 3, 2017
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I still add my passport info when flying Alitalia and Delta but there is always a note that I must stop at check in, can't go directly to security even though I can check in on-line.

I do the online check in just because I get paranoid about them giving away my seat if I don't even though I do have to go the counter when I get to the airport.
 

AMA

Verified Member
Dec 11, 2014
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I've had no issues checking in online for international flights on AA or BA over the past several years, and have just entered my passport number as part of the online check-in process. Delta was also fine checking me in online for my last U.S.-bound flight.
I'm flying United to Mexico in a couple of weeks, and there was no passport field option. It's a non-stop flight.
 

weihlac

Verified Member
Jun 30, 2017
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Maui Hawaii
I'm flying United to Mexico in a couple of weeks, and there was no passport field option. It's a non-stop flight.
You need to go into your United profile and enter the passport info there. It is part of my profile and when I flew from EWR to Zurich this week United simply asked if I was using the passport that was on file in my profile when I did online check-in. Your passport will need to be verified at the airport but I was able to check-in online 24 hrs prior to flight time and list the baggage I would be checking without problems. I received my boarding pass online and printed it out.
 
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jsn55

Verified Member
Dec 26, 2014
9,026
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San Francisco
You need to go into your United profile and enter the passport info there. It is part of my profile and when I flew from EWR to Zurich this week United simply asked if I was using the passport that was on file in my profile when I did online check-in. Your passport will need to be verified at the airport but I was able to check-in online 24 hrs prior to flight time and list the baggage I would be checking without problems. I received my boarding pass online and printed it out.
Yup, I've not had an issue with online checkin domestically or internationally. I too want to be sure those seats are still mine! It's important to keep your profile up to date.
 
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