You’Ve Checked In Online. Now What?

Most airlines now offer online check-in. which is incredibly convenient. It will help you avoid long queues at the check-in desks, and you can arrive at the airport a little later than normal. but if this is your first time that you check in online, So, what to do after you checked in online? And do you go straight to security if you check-in online?

After you check-in online, you’ll often receive your boarding pass right away. You can either print or download it to your phone. at the airport If you have checked bags you’ll still need to queue up at the bag drop desks, but it should be fast. If you are traveling carry on only you can head straight to the security.

Let’s tell you how it all works. Don’t worry. It isn’t too tricky! You’ll be using online check-in like a pro in no time at all!

I will answer all these questions:

  • What Is Online Check-In and how it works?
  • What to do after you checked in online?
  • Do you go straight to security if you check-in online?
  • Do I have to check-in at the airport if I checked in online?
  • Do I need to print my boarding pass if I checked in online?
A passport and a boarding pass
Image / Unsplash

How Does Online Check In Work?

Online check-in is pretty much what it says. Rather than chatting to somebody at the airport to check-in for your flight, you do it all online in the airline website or application.

Online check-in is normally very quick. You’ll share the same details you would at the airport e.g., if you are traveling overseas, then you’ll be asked to submit passport details, as well as any additional details needed for visas, etc.

You’ll also be assigned a seat, or you can choose your own seat (depending on the airline), you can even pay for additional bags.

By the end of the process, you’ll have your boarding pass. So, you’ll end up with exactly what you would if you checked in at the airport, but with a lot less hassle.

Online check-in, depending on the airline, opens 24-48 hours before a flight. So, the whole process is far more convenient, especially if you aren’t traveling with checked luggage.

Airlines Check in time
Delta Airlines In Delta you will be able to check-in for your flight using the website or the app 24 hours prior your flight and ending 60 minutes before the scheduled departure time.
United Airlines United airlines allows the check in online 24 hours prior to your flight.
Allegiant airYou can check in 24 Hours before the departure time on Allegiant air.
Southwest Airlines Southwest check-in time start 24 Hours prior to your flight departure.
JetBlueYou can always check in with JetBlue starting 24 hours before your flight departure time.
American Airlines American airlines stated that check in online begins 24 hours and up to 45 minutes before your flight on domestic flights, and 90 minutes for international flights.
Spirit Airlines According to Spirit airlines the best time to check in online is 24 hours prior your flight and the check in ends 1 hour before departure.

If you haven’t used online check-in for a flight before, do so. You’ll be amazed at how much easier it makes your trip.

It's important to know that you only get a seat on board the airplane when you get your boarding pass.

Here is a detailed guide from Sophia on how to correctly read your boarding pass.

How To Use Your Online Check-In Boarding Pass?

When you check-in online, the airline will send you the boarding pass. This will be a digital document.

You have two options here:

  • Print out the boarding pass.
  • Download the boarding pass to your smartphone. Most major airlines will have a mobile app, and you can view the boarding pass there. Others will allow you to download it to Google Wallet or Apple Pay (depending on the type of phone that you use).

With budget airlines, they’ll be your only two options. Many of them will charge a fee if you need to have the boarding pass printed at the airport.

Some expensive airlines will let you print the boarding pass at the airport. There will normally be staff to help.

In some cases, there will be digital kiosks ( self check In Kiosks ) where you can print the boarding pass.

In all cases, I recommend that you either print or download the boarding pass yourself. It’ll save you a lot of effort and time at the airport.

If You Check In Online, What Do You Do At The Airport? The Procedure

So you’ve checked in online. Now what? Well, your next steps at the airport will depend on whether you are traveling light or not, or whether you are armed with some heavy checked bags.

If You Are Traveling Carry-on Only

If you don’t need to check in any bags, then head straight for security.

clear the security, and then wait for your flight at the gate. Simple!

Remember, you shouldn’t head through security at the last minute. Many airlines will start boarding 30-60 minutes before the departure time, so make sure that you’re through security by then.

Obviously, you’ll need to account for any potential security delays (major queues can form).

So, I suggest that you arrive at the airport a good 2-3 hours before your scheduled departure.

Additional always ensure that you stay within your airline luggage size and weight, and avoid making any prohibited or dangerous items inside your bag.

If You Have Checked Bags

1. Check in your bags

If you are checking in bags, you’ll need to look for the ‘bag drop’ counter at the airport. This will be clearly marked.

When you can drop off your bags will depend on your airline.

Some airlines allow an early bag drop, starting as soon as 24 hours before the flight. While others won’t open the bag drop until 3 hours before the flight departs.

You’ll need to read any information from the airline to know when bag drop opens for you.

During bag drop, your passport and ticket will be inspected. Your bags will then be weighed and placed onto the conveyor belt.

2. Clear the security

You can then head on over to security and scan your ticket as usual. If you have a digital / printed boarding pass, then scan the barcode / QR code on the ticket.

If it doesn’t work, ask one of the staff members hanging around.

Related: How Often Are Items Stolen From Checked Bags?

3. Wait at the gate

After you go through the security process, you can head to the gate ( remember the gate number and all the info you will need is in your board ing pass ).

But ensure that you always keep up with the airline announcements, in case there is a change or a delay in the flight in the boarding gate .

4. Board the plane

Now as everything goes smooth, it is time to on board the airplane.

Once you get on board the airplane, present your boarding pass to the flight attendant so she or he can point you your seat.


In Doubt? Ask Your Airline 

Remember, all airlines deal with online check-in slightly differently. If you’re confused, head on over to your airline’s website.

Most of them will provide detailed information about online check-in. They want the process to be as easy as possible for their passengers, after all!

Final Thoughts

Online check-in is the best way to check-in for a flight. It is convenient and ever-so-fast. Although, I understand that it can be a little daunting for passengers that have not checked in online before.

However, I can assure you it is easy. You’ll save yourself a lot of time at the airport, and it makes the travel experience so much less stressful.

If you are unsure how to check in online for your selected airline, they’ll include plenty of information on their website. 

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