Air travel can be stressful for several reasons, including flight delays and long lines at the airport's security checkpoint. Many travelers add undue stress by arriving at the airport late and having to run to their gate. You can eliminate this panic by arriving early and being well prepared for your flight. The number of hours you're required to get to the airport before your flight vary according to the airline and other factors.
When it comes to the amount of time you should arrive at the airport before your flight's departure time, no universal rules exist. Each airline has a different time requirement, although for a flight from the United States to Canada, aim to arrive at the airport roughly three hours before the flight is scheduled to depart. Doing so assures that you'll find the correct gate and get checked into the flight in a timely fashion.
When preparing for your trip to Canada, call your airline or visit its website to determine its recommended and required airport arrival time. Check the airport's website to gain additional insight. Most airlines suggest arriving two to three hours early for a flight to Canada. If the airport is small, closer to two hours early is often sufficient. For many airlines, the minimum check-in time is 30 to 45 minutes before the flight leaves, but all airlines recommend you arrive well before this time.
If your flight to Canada is departing during a peak time, arrive earlier than you would if the flight was leaving during a nonpeak time. Call the airport to learn its peak times, as this information will help you decide when you arrive. At Los Angeles International Airport, for example, peak times for flights are 6:30 a.m. to 9 a.m., 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 8 p.m. to 11 p.m.
It's often inconvenient to arrive at the airport several hours before your flight is scheduled to depart and sit around waiting. Prepare yourself for the waiting period by packing a book, magazine, iPod or tablet in your carry-on bag. Once you check in, you'll be able to use whatever you've packed to keep you occupied as you wait to board the airplane.