How Early To Arrive At LaGuardia Airport (Domestic & International Flights)

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LaGuardia Airport is a key airport serving the New York City area. The airport consists of three terminals: Terminal A, Terminal B, and Terminal C.

Given this, I recommend arriving at LaGuardia Airport at least 2 hours before a domestic flight and at least 3 hours before an international flight.

However, you’ll also want to consider personal circumstances that may influence you to arrive at the airport even earlier. These include; travelling with young children, how you are going to travel to the airport, what time you’re flying etc.

What Time Should You Arrive at LaGuardia Airport?

We typically recommend arriving at LaGuardia Airport at least two hours before departure for domestic flights (flights within the US) and at least three hours before departure for international flights (flights outside of the US).

This should provide you with enough time to:

  • Arrive at the airport
  • Check-in for your flight
  • Drop your bags
  • Go through security
  • Make it to your gate – prior to / in time for boarding

In our opinion, it’s always better to arrive at the airport a little early and have some extra time browsing the stores or grabbing a bite to eat rather than arriving late, feeling rushed and running the risk of missing your flight.

Why Do You Need Longer For International Flights?

It’s often recommended that when travelling to international destinations (outside the US) you arrive at LaGuardia Airport at least 3 hours before the flight departs.

This is to allow for extra time to check visas, entry requirements, immigration control and clear customs.

Long-haul international flights also often have a longer boarding period (starting earlier) to allow for all passengers to board the aircraft in ample time before the scheduled departure.

How Are You Getting to LaGuardia Airport?

When deciding on the ideal time to arrive at LaGuardia Airport you’ll also want to consider how you’re travelling there. Congestion across New York is of course incredibly common, especially during peak travel times.

As such it’s important to both consider the distance and the traffic conditions. As such, I recommend using Google Maps to evaluate the distance and projected travel time to the airport according to your mode of transport.

Keep in mind that if you check Google Maps on a Sunday at 1:00pm, then the travel time may be very different to the reality you face if you’re actually trying to complete the journey at 7:00am on a Monday.

Parking at LaGuardia Airport

If you’re driving and parking at LaGuardia Airport then I recommend allowing an additional 30 minutes for parking and commuting to the terminal building.

LaGuardia Airport boasts a variety of different parking options depending on the duration of your trip and budget.

Returning a Rental Car

If you’ve had a rental car during your trip then you’ll likely be returning it at LaGuardia.

In this case, I recommend arriving at the airport between 30 minutes and 1 hour earlier to give yourself plenty of time to complete any required paperwork and commute to the terminal building.

The Time of Year

How busy LaGuardia Airport is can depend significantly on the season and major holidays such as Thanksgiving, Christmas, the Fourth of July, Memorial Day, Labor Day, and Spring Break.

This increase in passengers can impact waiting times across all aspects of the airport experience. As such if your travel coincides with these periods, then it might be wise to arrive at the airport an hour earlier than usual.

Check-In For Your Flight

The majority of airlines now allow you to check in for your flight using either a mobile application or a website. Checking in for your flight using this service should provide you with a digital boarding pass. As a result, you’ll then only need to head to the airline’s counter if you have bags to drop off.

However, if you’re unable to check in for your flight before arriving at the airport then you’ll want to make sure you arrive at the airport with enough time to do so.

The majority of airlines provide both self-service check-in kiosks and check-in counters at LaGuardia Airport which allow you to complete the check-in process quickly and easily.

However, keep in mind that airlines will close the check-in gates before the flight departs (exact times vary, however, it’s usually around 45 minutes – check with your airline). If you have not checked in before the designated time then you will be denied boarding – even if you’re at the departure gate on time for the flight itself.

Dropping Checked Bags

Much like checking in for your flight, another factor you’ll want to consider when determining what time you should arrive at LaGuardia Airport is whether or not you’ll need to check your luggage.

The bag drop will often close one hour prior to the flight’s departure, however, exact times vary depending on the airline. As such, you’ll want to make sure you arrive at LaGuardia Airport early enough to accommodate this where applicable.

If you do not have any checked bags then once you have your boarding pass (either digital from checking in online or physical from checking in at the airport) you’ll be able to head straight through to security.

TSA Precheck / CLEAR?

If you have TSA Precheck or CLEAR then going through security at LaGuardia Airport should be a significantly quicker and easier process.

As such you should not need to allow for additional time at the airport when compared to infrequent travellers moving through the regular security checkpoints.

Which LaGuardia Airport Terminal Do You Need?

LaGuardia Airport has three terminals: Terminal A, Terminal B, and Terminal C.

These terminals are not connected, and subsequently, passengers looking to move between terminals at LaGuardia Airport will need to take the free shuttle which is signposted across the airport.

Terminal A

  • Frontier Airlines
  • Spirit

Terminal B

  • Air Canada
  • American Shuttle
  • JetBlue
  • Southwest Airlines
  • United Airlines

Terminal C

  • Delta Air Lines
  • Delta Shuttle Boston, Chicago, and Washington, D.C.
  • WestJet

Airlines may adjust their designated terminals, so always check your ticket or the airport’s website for the most up-to-date information.


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