Checking Bags at the Airport

I don’t fly much and have a weird question.

I would like to take the bags we are checking up to the airport during the morning for a flight that doesn’t leave until 6ish pm. Can I do that? I’m in a time crunch getting a kiddo from school at 4PM and then going to the airport and was trying to figure out if I can get our boarding passes and such earlier in the day and then just go straight to Security in the evening.

I looked at AA website but I’m still not sure my question is answered. I know I can check in to let them know I’m coming 24 hours before but I’m thinking about taking care of the luggage.

Airlines do not let you check bags much more than 2 hours before the flight departs, so I don’t think so. You could call the airline and ask, but I doubt it very seriously.

But you can check in and get your boarding passes, so all you need to do is drop off the bags you want to check. It depends on your airport, but if there is curb-side bag drop-off that would speed things up for you.


Thank you. That’s what I figured but was hoping for otherwise.

FWIW, I find that once online check-in is done, bag drop is pretty quick. If there’s a lineup for the desk, just go to the kiosks to print your luggage tags. Of course it will vary place to place, but my experience has always been that this works very easily and quickly because they station enough staff near the kiosks that if you need help, there will be someone available right away.

Can you collect kiddo a little early? If it’s a domestic flight, personally I’m comfortable arriving 75-90 minutes before departure. Even if you want to be 2 hours early, unless the airport is a really long way from the school you shouldn’t have to pick him/her up much before 4:00.


Found this on the American Airlines website:

Sounds like 4-hours is the MCO-imposed limit so is probably in effect across airlines. Otherwise, I couldn’t see any limits so for departures from other airports presumably you could check bags up to 24 hours in advance (on American)?

Ooooo. I didn’t see that part. Thank you! I think I’m going to give it a shot…try for a noon drop off of luggage for a 622pm flight.

Thank you!

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Sounds good and thank you for the tips!

I flew last December but it was just me and not the entire family and I had plenty of time and didn’t have to worry so much about timing. Prior to that, I hadn’t flown since 2008.

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Four hours in advance is standard policy for most airlines in the US. But the ticketed passengers have to be there anyway, so you can’t check anyone’s bags but yours. But, it may be cheaper to check two bags under your name rather than one under each name. My bags are always free so lots of times I check my kids’ stuff under my name.

We went to WDW right after picking up my two youngest after they were done with their respective years in college and between my husband and I, there were 4 free checked bags an not a single one was ours!:laughing:

Same thing for getting printed boarding passes- the person must be there (unless you use a kiosk, I guess). Boarding passes are handier to have on your phone anyway. You can get them this way if you check-in online. My adult kids have their passes emailed to them, but I have the airlines’ apps so I use that.

You can have both your child’s pass and yours on your phone. And they can have their own on their phone, too, or you can have one printed out for them to carry. It’s is a good way to teach them responsibility without worrying about them losing it.

Personally, I’d get the kiddo from school early. It’s not worth the stress for an hour of school time at the end of the day. You could try to check all the bags under your name at 2pm, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they asked where the rest of your party was.

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Thanks for more tips! I have a total of four bags to check and if two of us go early, perhaps and I can manage it that way.

She’s already missing some school so her dad really doesn’t want to pull her out any earlier.

I will download the app and have everyone else do the same.

ETA: I’m probably WAY overthinking this. We leave on a Tuesday night, the airport is truly 15 minutes from my house, and we know our way around there. I know where we’re going to park, etc.

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I would call your airline / airport just in case. That way you’ll know for sure.

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You don’t need to stress over boarding passes. You can print your boarding passes from the comfort and convenience of your home computer 24 hours ahead or get them on your app up to 24 hours ahead. I always take a screenshot of my boarding pass in case the app doesn’t work at TSA or the gate. If I have to check in luggage, I go ahead and print a boarding pass, too.

I think when the whole family is on the same reservation, you can check them all in at the same time and get their boarding passes, regardless of their ages.

It sounds like you want to drop off your luggage early.

In case you don’t make it, or they don’t allow you to check in more than 4 hours early, please note that there is also the latest you can drop off luggage before departure. Check with AA.

My friends were going to Boston on United from San Francisco (very busy airport). They checked in luggage less than 45 minutes before departure. They were told that since their bags would not make their flight, they would not be allowed on their flight.


That almost happened to us, and we weren’t even checking bags. Our flight was canceled and we were put on another, last minute. But our tiny airport has the same agents at the ticket counter & the gate, and we could not get boarding passes- even the kiosks were locked down. We went to TSA and they went to the gate to get the boarding passes from the agents.

TSA does get much-deserved criticism, but they really helped us out by delivering the boarding passes to us.

But yeah, if you need anything from the counter, don’t show up late!


Nope. That won’t work - can’t check bags more than 2 (or 3?) hours before flight. And I’m sure it would raise a bajillion red flags.


If your still planning this…I’d go to the skycaps. They are normally willing to bend the rules for a few dollar tip. And I’ve had delays and connections that were five to six hours, and they hold your bags “down there”. Just a thought.

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Just to throw this in, way late I know.

When we flew back from Washington DC last summer with IcelandAir, they allowed us to check our bags in about 6 hours early. There was an earlier flight than ours and we wanted to go to the Udvar Hazy museum .
I’ve also done the same at other airports. So it’s always worth asking - phone the airline number at the airport to ask.

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