Major airlines allow customers to complete the check-in process online or through mobile phones, typically beginning 24 hours before the flight time. Customers enter flight information and identification information to check in early for their flights. Consider the benefits and check the airline's guidelines to determine if early check-in can be advantageous for you on your next flight.
A traditional airline check-in requires you to stand in line at the airline's ticket counter to get your boarding passes. During busy travel times, the lines are often quite long, requiring you to arrive at the airport early and waste time standing in line. When traveling with children, the wait is often boring for them and stressful for the parents. The early check-in process allows you to print your boarding passes online so you aren't required to stand in long lines at the airport. If you're checking bags, you can enter the number of bags online and prepay if you choose. You also have the option of using the airline's curbside baggage drop-off or baggage kiosks that are found in many airports.
Faster Access to Security
Early check-in gets you to the security checkpoint faster. If you aren't checking any bags, you can go directly to security when you arrive at the airport. Even if you have to drop off checked bags curbside or at a kiosk, you're still able to proceed to the security checkpoint faster than if you hadn't used early check-in. Keep in mind that the lengths of security lines fluctuate, so you still need to give yourself plenty of time to get through.
Better Seat Selection
When checking in ahead of time, you are able to choose your seat assignment. Those who go through the check-in process as early as possible have the best selection of seats that are available. If you wait for check-in at the airport, you're stuck with the remaining seats, which are often the least-desirable locations on the plane. There is still a chance your seat assignment could change after you arrive at the airport if the airline needs to move another passenger for some reason.
When deciding if the advantages of early check-in are worth it to you, consider your travel situation. Those traveling with only carry-on bags save the most time with online check-in since they go directly to security. The airlines often restrict online check-ins, particularly for international flights. If any part of your flight is international, especially if the travel requires a visa, expect to go through check-in at the airport as usual. Early check-in may not be available if you have special travel circumstances, such as traveling with a pet or getting a special military fare.