Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted: How early do I need to arrive at the airport?

Heathrow and Gatwick Airport have canceled more than 100 flights as more disruption and delays hit in the fourth day of Easter travel chaos. High numbers of airport staff are off sick with Covid, leading to staff shortages across the board. The chaos is largely affecting families jetting off during the Easter holidays.

Social media users have posted pictures of long queues and huge crowds waiting both on departure and arrival. But what is the best way to avoid this chaos? And crucially, how early should you arrive to the airport to make sure you catch your flight? MyLondon asked Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted for the answers.

Heathrow Airport has advised travelers to arrive at the airport no more than three hours before their flight is set to depart. The airport confirmed baggage check-in opens three hours prior to each flight and long queues have been reported at check-in desks because of staff shortages.

READ MORE: Latest fast track prices at Heathrow, Gatwick and Stansted



Passengers have reported a ‘shambles’ at the airport this morning (Sunday, March 27)

On Heathrow’s social media, when questioned about when to arrive at the airport, they said: “As the check-in will open 3 hours before your flight, we would recommend arriving 3 hours prior to your flight. your airline directly for more accurate information.”

A Gatwick airport spokesperson said: “The terminals may be busy during peak periods, such as weekends and the Easter holidays, when we see the airport returning to 2019 levels, and Gatwick is advising passengers to arrive at the earliest time their airline allows to check -in – and to make sure they know what they can and cannot carry through security before arriving at the airport.

“Passengers are also recalled enough time to check that their passports are still valid – and have left on them for the country being visited – and to check the foreign travel advice for all countries they will visit, or pass through, well in advance of travel .” The spokesman added passengers should arrive as soon as check-in for their flight opens – three hours for long-haul flights and two to two-and-a-half hours for short-haul flights.

Meanwhile Stansted airport did not give a specific time frame for passengers to arrive. Steve Griffiths, London Stansted’s managing director, said: “We know people are excited to be flying again after such a long time, so we want to provide them with the best possible experience.

“I want to reassure people that we are working hard to get back to where we need to be. While queues may be longer than people are used to at times, customers can definitely help us by arriving in good time.”

You can get live updates on the situation on our live blog here.

Do you have a story you think we should be covering? if so, email elizabeth.haigh@reachplc.com .

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