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how early for flight checkin?

San Diego...
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how early for flight checkin?

We are staying at the Sheraton Mirage in Port Douglas in mid April. Our flight to Ayer's Rock leaves at 7:30AM (UGH!). According to Googlemaps, it will take 65 minutes to drive from the hotel to the Cairns airport. How accurate is this? Every extra minute sleeping would be good :-)

Also how early should we arrive for checkin? We will have a bag to check (plus 1 carryon) each. We will have a rental car to return as well so we need to ensure we have enough time for that too. Not even sure how early the car rental office opens!

We are also flying from Sydney to Cairns and from Ayer's Rock back to Sydney. How early should we arrive for those domestic flights? No rental car in Sydney, but will have one in Ayer's.

Lastly, our final leg is the international flight - Sydney back to the US. How early should we arrive for that flight?

We aren't as concerned about early arrivals for any of these flights since they aren't so early in the morning.

At my local airport in the US, we are typically required to be at the airport 1 hour for domestic flights and 2 for international. I don't know what the recommended times are for Australia.

Thanks in advance for your advice.

South Pole
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1. Re: how early for flight checkin?

international flights usually have a 3 hour check in.

domestic flight check in times vary according to who u r flying with.

check with the specific airline web sites for that info.

Sydney, Australia
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2. Re: how early for flight checkin?

Domestic flights depend on airline but an hour before is perfectly safe. Qantas for example close baggage check in 30 mins before estimated departure; don't cut it too fine. Allow more time if travelling on a LCC (jetstar, tiger and to sime wxtent Virgin) for stricter rules and painful check in queues.

The three hours that Lien mentions for international checkin is when the counter OPEN for checkin. They close 60 mins before departure. I normally aim for 90 mins or so for international check in.

65 mins drive to Cairns airport sounds about right, but I'd allow an extra 10 to be on the safe side. Car rental return procedures and time taken varies widely from depot to depot - even within a single company. Some are a case of dropping keys in a box, others take their time with inspections and paperwork - and it only takes one slow customer ahead of you in the line to eat into a slim checkin margin of time. Don't ruin your holiday with a missed flight for the sake of an extra ten minutes in bed!

San Diego...
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3. Re: how early for flight checkin?

We are flying on Qantas on all domestic legs, although the Cairns-Ayer's Rock leg states "operated by QantasLink - National Jet Systems"

We always allow extra time for traffic, getting lost in a unknown area and other potential delays.

For rental returns, we always want to have someone inspect and sign off on the condition of the vehicle when we return it. We had an issue many years ago. Returned a car w/ some damage. They inspected it and noted the exact damage which we agreed to. Few weeks later we got a bill from a repair shop for much more damage than on the return form, along w/ an odometer reading of 150 extra miles. Obviously, the car was driven again after we returned it. Because we had a signed document noting all the damage at the time of return, we were able to avoid the extra and very costly repair. Now we take photos of the car upon pickup and return too. So we plan for extra time for that.

South Pole
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4. Re: how early for flight checkin?

flights from sydney to the usa are pretty full.

in my experience queues start forming well before the 3 hour desk opening time. unless u want to stand in a queue for a long time my advice is to get there early.

Melbourne, Australia
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5. Re: how early for flight checkin?

I would perhaps have my last night in cairns or at one of the beach locations just north eg trinity which is just a short ride to the airport

Nova Scotia
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6. Re: how early for flight checkin?

We are taking the same route and have the early flight out of Cairns. I have decided to stay in Cairns our last night and return the car the afternoon before we fly out. I want to be sure there will be someone there when we return the car. We also will be taking photos before and after.

We do have time to be able to do this and my husband hates those early morning flights.

7. Re: how early for flight checkin?

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