Airport arrival

Getting to the airport: how early do I need to arrive and why?

Whether you’re taking a short haul trip across the Channel for a relaxing city break or you’re jetting off to a far-flung destination for an exotic getaway, getting to the airport in good time to catch your flights is the first step to a successful and stress free journey.

Deciding how early you need to arrive can be tricky. Though none of us ever want to miss our flight (especially if we’re heading off on holiday), we also don’t want to waste hours and hours hanging around the airport spending money on expensive food and drink.

To help you find the perfect balance, and as part of our above and beyond service at Cachet Cars, we’ve put together a quick guide to ensure you always get to the airport just at the right time.


Your destination will have a big impact on how early you need to get to the airport. If you’re flying to a long haul destination like the US, China, Japan, South Africa or Australia, you’ll need to get to the airport at least three hours before your flight. And if you’ve got a long flight ahead of you, then you’ll want to start it stress-free and that’s exactly what our executive airport transfers offer.

If you’re flying to a European destination like Italy, Greece, Germany or France, two hours should be plenty of time to get through security and arrive at your departure gate. While travellers flying to British and Irish airports can arrive just an hour and a half before their scheduled departure time. Our executive airport travel includes a 24/7 point of contact so if you’re flight times or travel plans change then we can accommodate changes – however last minute.

Airport arrivals board

Queues at the airport

The main reason that you need to arrive at the airport a few hours before your flight is to allow time to check in, get through security and walk to your gate. Queues at check in can be very busy at peak times, especially if you’re travelling on a budget airline. Even if you’ve checked in online, the queue for the bag drop can take a lot longer than you think, so make sure you allow for unexpected delays.

The time it takes to get through security can vary dramatically between airports. It also depends on the time of day and the time of year you’re travelling.


In order to ensure you reach the airport in time for your flight, you’ll need to think about potential delays that could affect your journey. If your route takes you along the motorway at rush hour, jams and heavy traffic can have a serious impact on your arrival time.

If you book an executive car service to take you to the airport, Cachet office staff will be on hand to advise you on live traffic conditions whatever the time of day to make sure you reach the airport as quickly and comfortably as possible. What’s more, you won’t have to worry about organising parking on arrival at the airport with our door to door service you’ll be dropped off outside departures so you can get straight on with your journey.

As @theplanetd says, if you want to avoid pre-flight stress: “Give yourself plenty of time to account for any unforeseen circumstances”. Waiting around for an extra half an hour is hugely preferable to missing your flight (or even worrying about missing your flight), so make sure you never cut it too fine.