Purchasing airline tickets on the Internet can be a convenient way to save time and money on travel arrangements, but even seasoned travelers can end up confused about how to check-in for a flight when the ticket was purchased online. Some travelers might stand in a long line at an airport to check-in for their flight, but this probably is not necessary. With few exceptions, you can usually check-in at a self-service airline kiosk. Some airlines also allow travelers to check-in online.

Step 1.

Visit the website of the airline you're flying to see if you can check in online or what options apply to your reservation, such as checking in at a kiosk. Even if you bought your ticket from a travel booking website or a travel agent, your reservation information should be available.

Step 2.

Check-in online between 90 minutes and 24 hours prior to your departure time, if you choose that option. You will be asked to provide some details. For example, Delta requires your full name and reservation number. Once your check-in is accepted, print the boarding passes and head to the airport at the appropriate time. Allow ample time to pass through security clearances.

Step 3.

Check-in at the airline’s self-service kiosk at the airport, if you can't check-in online or prefer not to. Scan the debit or credit card with which you purchased your ticket. Your reservation should automatically load and the machine will print your boarding passes.

Step 4.

Stand in line at your selected airline’s ticket counter if you opt for this method. Present your photo ID. This is usually all you need for the customer service representative to find your reservation, but it is always a good idea to keep at least your flight reservation number with you while traveling. Having a printed copy of your purchased itinerary is preferable.

Things You Will Need
  • Ticket confirmation number

  • Photo ID

  • Credit or debit card with which you purchased the ticket


Some flights are ineligible for online or self-service check-in, regardless of how tickets were purchased. For example, if you have a pet traveling with you, an international itinerary, or a traditional paper ticket, you usually must stand in line to check-in for your flight.