“Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you didn’t do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbor. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.”

TravelHaven Tips — You Should Get to the Airport Early

Think you can count on making your flight no matter how late you get to the airport? Eric Jordan of Condé Nast Traveler wrote this article in answer to the misconceptions that make people think so. Here’s some of what Eric has to say.

Myth 1: Airlines always let you move to the front of the security line if your plane is about to leave.
Not only can such accommodations be met with flat refusals, but hotel-shuttle snafus, inadequate airline staffing, flat tires, traffic jams, or other issues, can confound such intentions. The result can be missed flights, hefty change fees, even having to purchase new tickets.

Myth 2: The flight won’t take off without you if your checked bag is on the plane.
On a domestic flight, that’s simply not true. Unless there is some type of unusual circumstance, the plane — and your bag — can leave without you. On some international flights, the rule may hold true up to a point, but if you don’t show at the gate for last call, the airline is more likely to pull your bag than hold the flight. If you do plan to check baggage, that’s even more of a reason to get there early. If you don’t meet the baggage check-in cutoff, you most likely won’t make the flight.

Myth 3: They won’t close the door until five minutes before departure.
Again, not true. If it’s a full flight (like most) and you aren’t in the boarding area within the airline’s specified time, they can give your seat to another passenger and bump you without paying any compensation. It doesn’t actually matter whether the airplane door is open or closed. Once the plane is full, even if you’re not the one in your seat, it’s going to leave.

Eric Jordan’s recommendations:
• For domestic flights at a major airport, if you have bags to check, get there two hours early; if you have no bags to check, make it 90 minutes.
• For smaller regional airports you can shave it to 90 and 60.
• On busy days, like the day before Thanksgiving, you might want to add an hour.
• For international flights, get there three hours ahead of departure.

Other things to consider: How big/busy is the departure airport? Review your airline’s guidelines and check-in requirements. Is it a busy time of year? Is it a busy time of day? Do you have access to faster lines because of mileage status, first-class tickets, or pre-screening? Are you traveling with a family of five? What will it cost, if you all miss your flight?