Checking in at airport - all you need to know
Checking in at airport – izusek (canva)

It’s best for a first-time traveler to be familiar with airport traveling terminology and procedures to feel in control on the day of your flight. For this purpose, we have compiled the most frequently asked questions about your boarding pass and other processes to get you to your flight without worries!

A little disclaimer; during the highest peak of COVID-19, airlines’ check-in procedures changed to follow newly implemented health and safety guidelines. In addition, if natural disasters or outbreaks affect a specific part of the world, airlines will add country-specific regulations and procedures for that particular population. Usually, the airline will notify you of any changes to your flight.

Note: utilize the table of contents below to find your question

Table of Contents

Frequently Asked Questions About Boarding Pass & Ticket

1. What is a boarding pass?

A boarding pass is a plane ticket you get after check-in that allows you entrance to the departure gates.

2. Is an E-ticket the same as a boarding pass?

An E-ticket and a boarding pass are NOT the same. However, with your E-ticket, you can check-in to retrieve your boarding pass.

3. How do I get my plane ticket if I bought it online?

You can download your e-ticket, usually can be found in your email or within the member area of the booking site. Show this e-ticket to the check-in agent in the airport to retrieve your boarding pass.

4. Does your airline ticket have to match your passport exactly?

Yes, the name on your passport must match the name on your ticket. You might be able to get away with mismatched middle name, but better not to count on it.

5. How long before a flight can you print your boarding pass?

You can print your boarding pass as soon as check-in online is available which is usually 24 hours before the flight. However, last-minute changes to your flight done by the airline might make your boarding pass not valid.

6. Is it better to print your boarding pass at home or the airport?

If you are traveling with a carry-on bag, printing your boarding pass at home makes more sense since you can skip the check-in counter.

If you are traveling with bags that need to be checked-in, it makes sense to check-in at the airport to receive your boarding pass and document your bags.

Some airports have automatic check-in for you and your bags; if this is the case, you can get your boarding pass at the airport. However, sometimes the machines are crowded, not working, or unavailable.

7. How do I know where to go to get my boarding pass at the airport?

At the airport, find the airline company printed on your boarding pass.

8. Do I need to print my boarding pass, or can I use my smartphone?

You don’t need to print your boarding pass. Instead, pull up the QR code from your boarding pass on your smartphone and a physical ID card at the TSA screening.

If you go through this route, ensure your smartphone has a sufficiently charged battery, and the airline app or QR code screenshot is ready for the TSA agent at the security screening.

9. How do I get my boarding pass to my smartphone?

You can access it in two ways.

The first option is to download the airline’s app and use the information on your E-ticket to check-in, receive your boarding pass, and save it on the app.

The second option is to open the link you get to your email after check-in and screenshot the QR code on your boarding pass.

10. What happens if I can’t print my boarding pass?

If you can’t print your boarding pass at home, use your smartphone to pull up your boarding pass to show at TSA security or check-in at the airport to get your boarding pass.

11. Is printing a boarding pass the same as checking in?

Yes, you can only receive your boarding pass once you’re done checking in.

12. Do I need to check-in if I print my boarding pass?

If you print your boarding pass at home, you don’t need to check-in at the airport unless you need to check your bags.

Some airports have self-tag bag machines and self-check-in kiosks that you can use to tag and drop off your bag. If not, you will need to check-in at the airline counter.

13. Do I need to print my boarding pass if I have a QR code?

You don’t need to print your boarding pass if you can pull up the QR code you get sent to your smartphone upon checking in online.

14. Do I need a printed boarding pass to go through security?

No, it can be a digital or printed boarding pass and a physical form of ID. Passport if you travel internationally and a government ID if you are from the U.S.A. traveling nationally.

15. Can I use a screenshot of my boarding pass to go through security?

Yes, a screenshot of the QR code of your boarding pass can be scanned by a TSA agent.

16. Can I have more than two people boarding passes on my smartphone?

A person can carry up to eight individuals’ boarding passes on their smartphones as long as their names are all on the same E-ticket.

17. What information shows on my boarding pass?

In your boarding pass, you should see your legal name, flight code, airline name, departure gate, departure and arrival date and time, cities of arrival and departure, boarding time, boarding group zone, and seat.

18. Can we print boarding passes and baggage tags at the airport?

You can print your boarding pass and bag tags at the self-check-in kiosks. However, not all airports have this technology. If so, you should use the regular check-in counter.

19. What documents do I need besides my boarding pass?

According to the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), the list of documents below is what you need if you are traveling from the U.S.A. on an international or national flight. However, not all of them apply to your legal status in the U.S.A.

  • Driver’s licenses or other state photo identity cards issued by Department of Motor Vehicles (or equivalent)
  • U.S. passport
  • U.S. passport card
  • DHS trusted traveler cards (Global Entry, NEXUS, SENTRI, FAST)
  • U.S. Department of Defense ID, including IDs issued to dependents
  • Permanent resident card
  • Border crossing card
  • State-issued Enhanced Driver’s License
  • An acceptable photo ID issued by a federally recognized Tribal Nation/Indian Tribe
  • HSPD-12 PIV card
  • Foreign government-issued passport
  • Canadian provincial driver’s license or Indian and Northern Affairs Canada card
  • Transportation worker identification credential
  • U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Employment Authorization Card (I-766)
  • U.S. Merchant Mariner Credential
  • Veteran Health Identification Card (VHIC)”

20. What happens if I lose my boarding pass inside the airport?

If you lose your boarding pass before going through security, you must go to the airline’s check-in counter or ask an agent to help you print your boarding pass again.

If you lose your ticket inside the airport, pull up your flight code on your E-ticket, find your flight’s gate on the flight screens, walk to your flight’s gate and ask the agent to print your boarding pass.

Frequently Asked Questions About Flight Insurance

21. What is flight insurance?

Flight insurance is an add-on service that protects you from financial losses due to health or events out of your control that can happen while traveling.

22. What does flight insurance cover?

The standard flight insurance covers delays, cancellations, interruptions, and any lost or damaged luggage. Airlines offer many variations of flight insurance policies and different packages, from standard to premium. Choose the one that gives you coverage for your peace of mind.

23. Is flight insurance included in my ticket?

No, flight insurance is an add-on that you need to purchase with your ticket.

If you’re a new flyer and still trying to get used to the procedures and terms, read our tips for first time flyer. Following the tips will make your first experience less stressful and you’ll be more prepared if something unexpected happens.

Frequently Asked Questions About Checking In

24. How early should I arrive at the airport for my flight?

Three hours for an international flight and two hours for a national flight is the minimum time suggested to be at the airport.

25. What is check-in?

Check-in is the process of being an airline attendant approving you to be a passenger on their flight. Nowadays, you can also check-in at home.

26. What is an E-Ticket?

An E-ticket is a confirmation of your flight purchase. If you haven’t got your boarding pass, you need your E-ticket and government ID to check-in at home or the airport.

27. If I have an E-ticket, do I need to check-in?

Yes, you need to check-in to retrieve your boarding pass . Your E-ticket is a confirmation of your flight purchase.

28. What is a self-check-in kiosk?

It’s a touch-screen monitor that allows passengers to check-in by themselves. Passengers can upgrade their tickets, reserve seats, and document their bags through the self-check-in kiosks. You can also print your bags’ tags and drop them off at the bag drop-off counter.

29. Can I check-in with just my E-ticket?

You need your ID and E-ticket to check-in at home or the airport.

30. If I’m traveling nationally or internationally, do I have to check-in, and when?

Most airlines require you to check-in online, starting 48 to 24 hours to 40 minutes before departure for any national or international flight.

31. What is a “late check-in” fee?

Some airlines charge a “late check-in” fee for travelers who fail to check-in before their flight. The price varies from $10 to $50, depending on the airline.

32. What happens if I don’t check-in?

If you don’t check-in before the check-in cut-off time, you won’t be able to get a boarding pass which means you will lose your flight.

33. Can I check-in and self-tag my bag at check at the self-check-in kiosk?

You can check-in and your bag, print your bag tag and send your bag to the Bag Drop Off counter. However, not all airports have this option.

34. When do I check-in my bags?

When you check-in to get your boarding pass at the airport, you check-in and drop off your bags. If you’re going to be on a connecting flight, this is the time to ask about your luggage during transit later. More about this in getting your luggage during a layover.

35. How many bags can I check-in?

Most airlines allow one or two check-in bags per person, while a few allow a maximum of four bags, but you have to pay for any extra bags.

36. How many bags can I check-in for free?

The amount of bags you can check-in depends on the airline’s baggage policy. Some airlines include a checked-in bag with your ticket, while you have to pay for others.

37. What is the difference between checked-in bags, carry-on bags, and personal items?

A check-in bag is a bag that exceeds the carry-on weight but not the permissible weight limit for a bag. A check-in bag is usually 50 lb or less, and the standard size of a check-in bag is 27 x 21 x 14 inches. A check-in bag is not accessible to the owner during the flight and needs to be picked up at baggage claim at the end of the flight.

A carry-on bag doesn’t need to be checked as long as it meets the aircraft’s regulations for carry-on specifications. The carry-on must fit in the overhead bin. The standard dimensions of a carry-on bag are 9 x 14 x 22 inches. A carry-on bag is accessible during your flight.

A personal belonging can be a small bag you carry with you, a laptop case, a small backpack, a purse, or anything else you use to carry your belongings on your lap or under the seat.

Adding bags to your trip makes it expensive. It’s best to know when to find cheap flights that include the bags with your purchase or travel using a carry-on and a personal item. Some agencies or apps can help you find cheap flights where the baggage is included or is an affordable add-on.

38. Can I gate-check my stroller?

You can as long as the stroller meet weight limit imposed for gate-checking, commonly 20 lb (9 kg). To be sure, check beforehand or ask at the check-in counter. You can read more about this here: gate checking a stroller easily.


Keep in mind that airport services vary depending on the traffic they receive. For example, larger airports have self-check-in kiosks, automatic self-tag baggage kiosks, baggage drop-off, and a full staff, while smaller airports only offer airline counters for your check-in.

Before booking your flight, read the airline guidelines for baggage specifications, health regulations, and check-in instructions. Have all your documentation with you to avoid any issues at the airport and have a stress-free flight!

Now that you know everything about checking in, here are our top picks for the most reliable flight booking sites to ensure your smooth trip.

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