How Early Do You Usually Get to the Airport?

Alina Tugend writes in today’s NY Times about a subject that divides many couples when it comes to travel. The topic is how early one needs to get to the airport.

“One partner, it seems, always wants to get there two days before the flight leaves (my husband), and one thinks 20 minutes before takeoff is just perfect (me).

All right, I exaggerate. But as with most people, I hate spending any more time than absolutely necessary in overly bright terminals with uncomfortable seats and noisy children (particularly if they are mine).

But, more times than I care to admit, I have been in the position of racing down the hall, frantically looking for Gate 1,000, banging into people with my carry-on and swearing that I will leave earlier for the airport next time.

We’re working on getting the balance right.

For Joe Brancatelli, editor of the travel Web site, the bottom line is, you must show up at least two hours before your domestic flight — and three hours before your international flight — is scheduled to take off.

My friend Chris, a lawyer, sees getting to the airport as matter of knocking down stress points.

“I want to be the guy on the plane reading a book when the guy stumbles on the plane sweating profusely carrying four bags and trying to squeeze into the last seat,” he said. “I want to shake my head knowingly and go back to my book.”