Arrive 2 hours early at SeaTac?

Feb 10th, 2013, 07:50 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 10,966
Arrive 2 hours early at SeaTac?

A note on my United Airlines boarding pass advises me to arrive two hours before my flight's 6:00 a.m. departure. Is it really necessary for me to arrive at 4:00 a.m.? Wouldn't 5:00 a.m. be early enough?

happytrailstoyou is offline  
Feb 10th, 2013, 08:00 AM
Join Date: Aug 2005
Posts: 1,522
If UAL says 2 hours then do it. You could be held up time wise and miss the cut off or they may flag you as late and cut you off. Seems unreasonable arrival time at that early hour but 2 hours means 2 hours.
amer_can is offline  
Feb 10th, 2013, 08:14 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,114
Horsefeathers. I take lots of early morning flights from SEA and have never turned up earlier than 90 min. pre-flight, usually 60 min.

However with United, there's an unanswered question - when?

United is moving its departures from the North satellite to the A gates (already some moved to B) in a process that's going to take most of this year. (Alaska is taking over the whole N satellite, and UA will eventually be operating solely from the A gates.)

So the time required to get through security and to the departure gate may be quite variable. As of now, the lines for the N security checkpoint can be very long in the early mornings, as both UA and Alaska have transcons departing at that time. Then of course you have to go down to the train level, take the train to the N satellite, and come back up.

With the A gates, the lines are (usually) a little shorter at security, especially the elite/first class line; however some of the A gates (A1-A6) are a mighty long schlep from the security point, even with the moving sidewalks.

So either way, you might want to look at the Port's "Find Flights" web page - for a couple of days before, to see what gates your flight tends to use. That's no guarantee that they'll use the same gate on your day, but it's pretty uncommon to move flights around.

Then if it's an N gate or a low-number A gate, plan your arrival accordingly. Of course whether or not you're checking bags, or have an international destination requiring a doc check at the counter, will also have an impact.
Gardyloo is online now  
Feb 10th, 2013, 08:56 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,840
It's fine to say horsefeathers, and apparently the poster is very acquainted with the airport, but I arrive 2 hours early at our comparatively small but very busy hub airport. Why mess around.
Gretchen is offline  
Feb 10th, 2013, 09:10 AM
Join Date: Aug 2008
Posts: 2,287
Gardyloo, what time does TSA open up the security lines? Are they open at 4? I see no reason to blindly follow the '2 hours prior to departure' advice from United. They say that for every flight, don't they?

Reason I ask what time TSA opens is because here in Minneapolis, I've arrived at the airport for an early flight, checked in and had to wait for TSA to open up security. They are not open 24/7 here, so it was pointless to arrive that early.
WhereAreWe is online now  
Feb 10th, 2013, 09:23 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,114
I don't know when TSA opens; I suspect they have one checkpoint open 24h. (There are several.) I also don't know when the UA counter opens; maybe a call to UA might help.

I apologize for the snarky sounding "horsefeathers" comment; there was no need for me to be so dismissive. But since HTTY is in possession of a boarding pass, I'm assuming the flight is in the next few days, and SEA at oh-dark o'clock in February isn't exactly a beehive of activity. (Or at least it won't be in the early morning once any backlog of snow-canceled east coast pax have been moved.) So showing up at 4 AM just sounds really unnecessary. Printing that on the BPs is just the airlines playing CYA in my view.
Gardyloo is online now  
Feb 10th, 2013, 09:40 AM
Join Date: Oct 2003
Posts: 57,890
If you don't arrive when they tell you, there are delays and you don;t make the flight - what do you do then.

Are you willing to gallop to your plane with your carry-on if you are delayed by long line at check-in and security>

How risk averse are you?

I always arrive when the airline tells me too - I have seen too many people run for or even miss flights because they ignored airline instructions. (In Nov I was on the first class security line - but heard a family on the regular line begging to be pushed to the front (ahead of at least 100 people) since their flight was leaving in 30 minutes. They hadn;t even passed the first security check. They complained they had already been in the airport an hour. He said in that case they had arrived an hour late - and the whole line didn't have to wait for them to be pushed ahead.

Granted not very sympathetic. But if everyone turned up when they felt like it and then demanded to be pushed ahead - it would make a mess of the whole process and those who did turn up on time would be penalized.
nytraveler is offline  
Feb 10th, 2013, 10:11 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 10,966
Gardyloo, Unless there's a change, my flight will depart from Gate B7 at 6:09 Monday, February 11--tomorrow.

happytrailstoyou is offline  
Feb 10th, 2013, 10:12 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 10,966
PS I travel with carry-on only. Nothing to check in. HTtY
happytrailstoyou is offline  
Feb 10th, 2013, 10:57 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 17,114
I think it's 6:04, but with carry-on only and a pre-printed BP, I'd turn up at 5 and feel more than comfortable, but that's just me.
Gardyloo is online now  
Feb 10th, 2013, 11:04 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Feb 2005
Posts: 10,966
Thanks. That was my estimate, and I appreciate the affirmation. HTtY

PS 6:04 it is.
happytrailstoyou is offline  
Feb 10th, 2013, 12:05 PM
Join Date: Apr 2003
Posts: 12,054
A monday morning flight after a weekend when all the airlines have been in fright mode? I'd show up as early as possible. Nothing wrong with being a little early but everything can go wrong when you show up late.
clarkgriswold is offline  
Feb 12th, 2013, 07:50 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 91,353
I think 4:00am is too early. But I would arrive 90 mins. in advance not just 60.
suze is offline  

Posting Rules
You may not post new threads
You may not post replies
You may not post attachments
You may not edit your posts

BB code is On
Smilies are On
[IMG] code is On
HTML code is On
Trackbacks are Off
Pingbacks are Off
Refbacks are On

Thread Tools
Search this Thread

Contact Us - Archive - Advertising - Cookie Policy -


All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:19 AM.