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When should you arrive at airport


For those early 6AM flights(sunday departure out of Pearson) how early do you need to arrive at the airport? We will be staying at a hotel that night and they don’t seem to offer shuttle servive until 5AM.


They recommend that you arrive between 2-3 hours before your departure time. We always arrive around 3:30/4 am for a 6:30 flight (as we’ll be doing tomorrow morning when we leave for Punta Cana!)


I would call the hotel and ask them what they provide in the case of early 6am flights. 5am sounds like you are cutting it too close. I get to the airport in Baltimore at 3am for a 6am flight.

all the best,


I think you should contact the airline or airport directly. When flying out of Pearson, I haven’t even been able to check in until 5:30 a.m. for an 8 a.m. flight. They say 3 hours in advance for an international flight, and you can truly use all of that time between processing one line and another. Worst case scenario: you may have to pay for a cab to the airport.

I’m curious to know the answer though. Please report when you find out. How do you get checked in when there’s nobody at the counter? Do they provide a couple of staff at a couple of counters at 3 a.m. for your flight?


I’ve flown many a times to DR on a 6 am flight. If you arrive btwn 3-4 am, there have always been people at the counter to check us in and plenty of time left. I wouldn’t go past 4:30 am


I believe the drop dead cut-off time for the airport boarding passengers is 45 minutes prior to flight time.
It’s very possible that the hotel doesn’t offer shuttle service until 5 a.m. I ran into that situation when we had a 6:10 a.m. departure from Pearson in March so when I called park and stay hotels, I specifically inquired about the shuttle schedule. Some offer much more flexibility than others.
If you can’t get a shuttle before 5 a.m., definitely take a cab.
We request the hotel shuttle three hours prior to flight time. Being at the front of the crowd is to our advantage when we cheap out and don’t pay the extra $15 per person for pre-assigned seating.
P.S. Your 6 a.m. flight won’t actually leave until 6:30 a.m. due to local by-laws, but the plane will be in queue for take-off shortly thereafter.


I’ve had plenty of early-morning flights out of Pearson.

You won’t believe how many people are already lined up when you get there 3 hours early! All the flights for all the charters going south are leaving around the same time and there are lots of people working at the check-in counters. Once you step inside the door, you forget that it’s still the middle of the night.

You will wait in a long line to check in. That’s when they assign the seats, so the first ones in line get the best choices. I haven’t figured out yet if the line is shorter at 3am or at 5am. I think it’s always long.

After that, you can wander around but there’s nothing to do and very little is open for eating. If you want to eat, you’ll stand in line a long time for that. Then you line up for Security, too, but sometimes that’s not so bad.

Then you sit, sit, sit, sit. And wait. Chances are, your flight will be delayed.

Can you tell that this is the worst part of the trip for me? Haven’t figured out how to avoid it yet.


I guess my experience has been with Air Canada. Their counters are not busy in the middle of the night/morning! Two years in a row I have spent the night in the airport between my arrival at 10:30 p.m. and my departure the next morning and it was dead dead dead. And again, my busy 3 hours before flight time was with Air Canada too. Doing check in, security, waiting for the bus to the infield terminal, finding the gate, shopping duty free(!), there wasn’t an excess of time.

It’s interesting to know how the various airlines work.


We always check in early . 3 hrs at least and get our seats and check the bags. Usually get good seats and the lines are not overbearing yet.

If you want to, try this, it has worked for us.
Rent a room @the Sheraton Gateway Hotel , this hotel is connected by a walkway to the airport, hence no shuttle problems.
Check in at the airport ,check your bags get your tickets and go back to the hotel (a short walk).
You can relax in the room until 1 hr/ 45 min before take off.


Maybe a different hotel would be better for you.

We stayed at the Carlingview Inn and they had 24 hour shuttle service. Basically we told them what time we wanted to be picked up(3:45 am) and they were accomodating. We had 25 people our party but I think that had nothing to do with the shuttle times.

Good Luck


Thank you all for your advice. What did people do before the internet???


Most hotels have 24 hour shuttles, I have taken them at 3 am.

rkhan: Which hotel are you staying at?


I’m with Waldo, we stayed at the Sheraton and it was so convenient. We were arrving back from the DR but I love your idea of checking in and ditching the luggage then returning to the room. If I am not mistaken, they will also store your winter outwear while you are gone. Jean, I am hoping to solve the problem tonight by winning the Super 7 and then I will simply charter my own plane that will leave when I am good and ready.


Waldo, that sounds like an excellent plan!!!

I think Sunwing is flying out of Terminal 1. Is the Sheraton connected to Terminal 1?

What about parking? Is there an extra charge? and for winter coat storage?

I took the option of Premier Service, which includes a separate line for check-in and I have pre-reserved seating…I might even be able to sleep in to 4:45 and then head over…or is that cutting it too close?

Were there feb 11 to 18th…will see you down there…



Sheraton Gateway is located in Terminal 3. There is a charge for parking.

No idea if they will store your winterwear. I know there is hotel down the strip that does that, but I am drawing a blank on the name of it.


Flew with Sunwing(Harmony) to DR 2 weeks ago and they are currently operating out of T3…dont think this is supposed to change once their own airline starts flying Nov 17th. I wouldnt risk missing my flight to DR for some extra shut-eye, you can sleep on the plane! If you have pre-booked seats, there is not the same sense of urgency, but would not get there later than 04h30.
I live in TO so I take a cab but usually arrive at 02h30 to be first to check in, thereby avoiding line-ups and ensuring an exit row seat for my 6" tall body!!! :slight_smile:


In our airport in England for long flights it’s about 3-4 hour before, we always go early anyway,better to be safe than sorry! I fell like it’s part of the holiday when your waiting at the airport anyway,you can have a few beers,even take your own and watch the other planes take off, all part of the build up for us lot! lol, caroline :sunglasses:


Meandfamily, flights depart starting at 6am. out of Pearson they do not hold flights until 6:30 for takeoff. Flights times are 6am to 1am after 1am the airline pays a fine and can land up until 2am after that they are diverted to Hamilton airport.

Sunwing does indeed fly out of terminal # 3 we have flown with them a few times now. We also stay at the Sherton Gateway Hotel attached to Terminal #3 (my husband says it is starting our vacation a day earlier) as it is a short walk across to check in and then back to your room for coffee etc. usally go through departures about 1 to 1 -15min before flight time. Also they have discounted parking at $69 from 1 wk to 14 days. you pay at the hotel on your way home.


We’ve been held on the runway until 6:30am for a 6am flight and the reason given was local by-laws. Maybe that just a convenient little fib they use when they’re running behind?

There are always check-in counters open in T3 for the 3 am crowd. They don’t necessarily start processing everyone right on the nose, but they’re there.


according to this press release dated July 7th/05 on the Sunwing website, they will be flying out of Terminal 1 when the new airline commences operation.