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Phuket International Airport (HKT) is the main gateway to Phuket Island, one of Thailand’s most renowned tourist destinations. As such, it’s one of the busiest airports in the country, catering to both domestic and international flights.
Phuket International Airport features two terminals: Terminal 1 for international flights and Terminal 2 for domestic flights.
Given this, we suggest arriving at Phuket Airport at least 2 hours before a domestic flight and at least 3 hours before an international flight.
However, keep in mind other factors, such as travelling with children, your transportation to the airport, and the timing of your flight when deciding your arrival time.
What Time Should You Arrive at Phuket Airport?
For domestic flights (within Thailand), it’s generally enough to arrive at Phuket Airport two hours ahead of departure. However, for international flights (outside of Thailand), it’s advisable to arrive three hours before your flight. This should provide ample time to:
- Reach the airport
- Check-in for your flight
- Drop off luggage
- Navigate security
- Get to your gate with time to spare
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 Thailand) you arrive at Phuket 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 Phuket Airport?
Both your distance and transport of transport should influence when you set off to the airport. While it’s rare to find traffic contributing to long delays in Phuket, some resorts are a fair distance from the airport, so I recommend checking travel times in advance.
Use 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 lunchtime then the travel time you see may be very different to the reality you face when you go to complete the journey at 07:00 am on a Monday for example.
The Time of Year
National holidays such as Christmas and New Year as well as festivals and peak-tourist times can significantly increase travel demand and result in longer lines at the airport than usual.
As such, if your travel coincides with these periods, it might be wise to contemplate arriving an hour earlier than usual.
Checking In For Your Flight
The majority of airlines now allow you to check in for your flight using either the mobile app or website up to 24 hours before departure.
Checking in for a flight using this service should provide you with a digital boarding pass and therefore only require you to use the bag drop service (if applicable).
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 Phuket 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 Phuket Airport is whether or not you’ll need to check your luggage.
The bag drop will close roughly one hour before the flight’s departure (exact times vary depending on the airline and destination so be sure to check your flight information) so you’ll want to make sure you arrive at the airport early enough to accommodate this where applicable.
If you do not have any checked bags and are subsequently travelling hand luggage only 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.
Which Phuket Airport Terminal Do You Need?
Phuket International Airport has two terminals;
- Terminal 1 is dedicated to international flights (flights outside of Thailand)
- Terminal 2 is dedicated to domestic flights (flights within Thailand)
Subsequently, airlines such as Thai Airways and Air Asia operate in both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2 and the terminal you need to go to for your flight will depend on where you’re travelling to.
If you’re travelling from Phuket to Bangkok and other cities and regions in Thailand then you’ll fly from Terminal 2 (domestic flights). Meanwhile, if you’re flying from Phuket to Singapore, Japan, Australia etc. then you’ll fly from Terminal 1 (international flights).
Terminal details can also be found on your booking confirmation, boarding pass and on the airline’s website.