All you need to know about flight check-ins

You can save time and minimise some of your travel stress by streamlining the check-in process. has a few small tips that will make a big difference the next time you check in for a flight booking.

How to optimise your flight check-in

  • Use the airline's online check-in bay if they have one.
  • Find out what documents you'll need and prepare them beforehand.
  • Ensure your luggage conforms to the airline's standards and limits.
  • Carefully plan your transport to the airport.

Online check-in

Our top tip for saving time and effort is to check-in online if the airline offers this option. You can usually do this on the airline's website. Checking in online can save you a lot of time and it's really easy to do! The option to check in before your flight usually becomes available 24 to 48 hours before the time of departure. So, instead of waiting in a queue for an hour or more at the check-in desk, you can spend a few minutes clicking buttons and head straight to the express queue at the airport.

The difference between checking in online and in person at the airport

The traditional way of checking in is at the airport kiosk, where an airline representative confirms your presence on the flight and verifies your credentials. They then secure a seat number on the airplane for you and print your boarding pass. Finally, they weigh and check in any relevant luggage.

Online check-in goes through the same process but you verify your details yourself, and you can usually select the seat you want and sometimes even choose your own meal. Once at the airport, if you only have hand luggage you can go straight through to the security check. If you have luggage that needs to be checked in, there will usually be a separate baggage drop-off counter for this.

Nowadays, there's also a third option – some airlines allow or even insist on customers checking themselves in at check-in machines provided at the airport specifically for this purpose.

Check-in documents and information

To ensure a smooth check-in process, whether online or in person, make sure you have the required documentation beforehand. For example, if you paid for your flight with a credit card, you may need to present it at the kiosk. Here is a list of the most common documents you will need:

  • Passport (if the flight is international)
  • ID or driver's licence (if the flight is local)
  • Visa
  • Unabridged birth certificate for children
  • Legal letters and consent documents should a child be travelling alone or with only one adult.
  • Proof of payment or your credit card


Different airlines and even aircraft have different rules about the weight and size allowances of luggage, all to ensure the airplane doesn't get too heavy. The weight and size allowance for hand-luggage is usually much smaller than for checked-in baggage, so you might not get away with a little backpack if you're going on a two-week trip! If you've packed your entire wardrobe, you can opt to pay extra to take a second checked-in bag with you.

Travelling to the airport

Save time and stress by planning how you will get to and from the airport beforehand. Will you take an Uber, bus, or have someone else drop you off? Will you take your own car and leave it in the secure parking at the airport and rent a car at your destination? Each option has its own cost and level of convenience, so you'll need to decide which suits you best. Whichever way you get there, make sure you aren't late for your check-in or flight by arranging everything as early as possible.

Now that you know how to check in like a seasoned traveller, book your next adventure with using our online flight comparison tool today.

Prices quoted are correct at the time of publishing this article. The information in this article is provided for informational purposes only and should not be construed as financial, legal, or medical advice.