How Early Can You Check Your Bags for a Flight (Airline List)

When it’s time to embark on a new adventure, travelers often face a rollercoaster of different feelings; a blend of anticipation and overwhelming worry.

After all, can we blame them?

Traveling is an amazing experience that transforms us and broadens our horizons and perspectives.

However, an unavoidable part of this journey is canceled or delayed flights, waiting in long lines, and the fact that travelers at airports usually face the challenge and uneasiness of carrying their luggage around until check-in opens.

We understand your pain points, and that’s why we’ve created this guide to give you a better overview of how early you can check your bags for a flight based on various airlines, things to consider, and how to easily store your bags at an airport.

Without further ado, let’s get started!

How Early Can You Check Your Bags for a Flight?

Generally speaking, the earliest you can check your luggage is 2-4 hours before your flight departure time.

Since policies may vary according to the airline, airport, and destination (i.e. international or domestic flights), there is a possibility that you’ll be allowed to check your bags even as early as 24 hours before your departure time.

Keep in mind that no matter when you check your bags, it is advisable to plan and give yourself plenty of time to get through security and check-in for your flight since unexpected things can happen along the way.

Let’s jump to the next section of our guide which is no other than a well-curated list of major airlines and their policies regarding the earliest time you can check your bags.

How Early You Can Check Your Bags With Each Airline

As we mentioned earlier, the earliest you can check your bags might differ as it depends on the airline and airport policies.

Below, we’ve done our digging to give you a better idea of how early you can check your bags with some well-known airlines.

Let’s start with the first on our list.

Delta Airlines

Delta Airlines allows passengers to check their luggage as early as 6 hours before scheduled departure time.

United Airlines

United Airlines allows passengers to check their luggage at the airport up to 24 hours in advance.

Besides that, they provide the flexible option of checking a bag online or on the United app during check-in. Then, travelers just need to drop their bags in the bag drop shortcut area where an agent will tag their bags.

American Airlines

American Airlines has a unique spot among the best business-class airlines to choose from for your next journey.

American Airlines allows passengers to check their bags up to 4 hours before departure when flying from:

  • Charleston (CHS)
  • Denver (DEN)
  • Fort Lauderdale (FLL)
  • Jacksonville (JAX)
  • Kahului (OGG)
  • Kansas City (MCI)
  • Key West (EYW)
  • Las Vegas (LAS)
  • Newark (EWR)
  • Ontario (ONT)
  • Orlando (MCO)
  • Phoenix (PHX)
  • Portland, Oregon (PDX)
  • Salt Lake City (SLC)
  • Seattle (SEA)
  • Tampa (TPA)

However, travelers can’t check bags more than 6 hours before departure when flying from Honolulu (HNL).

Southwest Airlines

Southwest Airlines states that checked baggage will be accepted at the airport ticket counter or curbside check-in locations (where available) as early as 4 hours ahead of flight departure time.

Frontier Airlines

Frontier Airlines allows passengers to check their bags as early as 1 hour before their scheduled departure time.

British Airways

You can check in your bags with British Airways at least 3 hours before your flight.

Ryanair

According to Ryanair’s website, the Bag Drop desks open at the latest 2 hours before the scheduled flight departure time and close 40 minutes before the scheduled departure time.

EasyJet

According to EasyJet’s website, bag drop at the airport opens 3 hours before departure for flights from Israel, Serbia, Milan Malpensa, Pristina, Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Jordan, Geneva, and London Luton.

For flights from Amsterdam to destinations outside Europe (including the UK), bag drop opens 3 hours before departure.

For flights from Amsterdam to destinations in Europe (excluding the UK), Paris Charles De Gaulle, London Gatwick, and Manchester, bag drop opens 2.5 hours before departure.

Spirit Airlines

According to Spirit Airlines, passengers can check their bags at the ticket counter or Bag Drop as early as 4 hours before the scheduled departure time.

Now that we covered some crucial details regarding the earliest you can check your luggage according to various airlines, let’s jump to the next section of our guide which is no other than 3 things to know before checking your bags at the airport.

3 Things to Know Before Checking Your Bags at the Airport

To ensure that you have a seamless and hassle-free travel experience, it is essential to consider the following things before checking your bags at the airport.

Departure Time

First and foremost, you need to take into account the time of your flight’s departure.

The flight departure time will determine and impact when you can check your luggage at an airport.

Generally, it is suggested that you get to the airport at least 2 hours earlier than your departure time to have sufficient time at your disposal to complete the check-in process, go through security, and arrive at your gate.

For most airports, you must be checked in at least 30 minutes before your scheduled departure time and you’re required to be at the boarding gate 15 minutes before scheduled departure.

What is more, mornings, evenings, and holidays are always busy, thus being proactive and planning for extra time is a wise decision to not find yourself waiting in long rows.

Also, as a rule of thumb, airports in the U.S. are usually quite busy; thus you should expect longer lines and plan for extra time.

Type of Flight

Furthermore, apart from the departure time, the type of your flight will also play a major role and dictate how early you can check your luggage at an airport.

Generally, in case of a domestic flight, you can check your bags up to 2-3 hours before departure.

For an international flight, due to additional security and customs procedures, you may expect to check your bags at least 3 hours before departure.

Moreover, if you have a connecting flight, you may need to collect and recheck your bags at each stop.

Airport and Airline Policies

Each airline and airport has its policies and restrictions for checked luggage, regarding the size of your luggage, the number of pieces for both checked luggage and hand-in luggage, and the time you can check your bags.

Generally, the majority of airlines give you plenty of time to check your bags before your flight departs, but the precise time frame depends on the airline, airport, and destination.

For instance, Delta Airlines which we mentioned earlier, allows you to check in within 24 hours of departure.

On the contrary, this is not the case for Frontier Airlines which allows passengers to check their bags as early as 1 hour prior to their scheduled departure time.

And since we keep our promises it’s about time to tie up some loose ends and take you through a simple process to easily store your luggage at an airport.

How to Easily Store Your Luggage at an Airport

At first glance, storing your luggage at an airport’s facilities might seem like a convenient option.

However, if you aim for flexibility, saving money, and above all simplicity, then it sounds like we might be the perfect fit for you.

At Stasher, we’ve partnered with hotels, cafes, and local shops, in over 890 cities worldwide to cater to the needs of every traveler, looking to safely store their luggage for a few hours or days.

Simply head over to our homepage or download our app for Android or iOS, and store your luggage anywhere with Stasher!