When to arrive at EWR for international flight (on United) this Saturday? archived

I always thought that you had to get to the airport earlier for international flights than for domestic flights, but I can't find anything about this on the United website. I DO see longer times at overseas airports, but nothing about international flights from US airports. Any advice?

Also, if the Homeland Security shutdown happens, I understand that TSA workers still have to report but won't get paid, so I'm thinking that could cause slowdowns.

So ... if you were flying to Central America on Saturday morning, what time would you plan to get to EWR?

My understanding has been that for a domestic flight you arrive one hour early. For an international one, two hours early. But that could just be me.

Two hours in advance to be safe.

Have a great time, Sac!

2 hours for sure, maybe a touch more. On the outbound nothing is really different at all. Get the United app, scan your passport in, and check in that way. You'll be glad you did (assuming no checked bags).

If you are not premier access, generally speaking you can buy premier access for the fight. That lets you go in the premier lane for security, which if TSA is backed up is the difference between a normal day at the airport and panic. It should only cost you $10 or something.

You will also board early, and if you're rocking carry ons as your only luggage you guarantee yourself an overhead, which is so money if it's a non-regional. If overheads are full (they will be if you are after zone 3, maybe even 2) they get gate checked and put in baggage claim which is total crap.

Remember if you are traveling with kids on a ticket they are entitled to a full sized carry on an personal item as well. Use that. No silly Dora or SpongeBob bags, full size 22x14x9 bags. You can easily do a week's vaca out of a few of those.

Above all, plans bit on the front end, and relax! You are going on a vacation not a business meeting. You are blessed to be living near an airport with crazy direct flights everywhere! If you get delayed, no biggie! Start the vacation early and enjoy! There are plenty of places to buy a cocktail in C.

BTW . EWR info . I was recently informed that EWR has a cell phone lot . It's open from 7:00AM till 1:00 AM . You can stay there for 60min. It is located on Basilone Road. There are 150 spaces but you must remain with your car.

exmwr said:

BTW . EWR info . I was recently informed that EWR has a cell phone lot . It's open from 7:00AM till 1:00 AM . You can stay there for 60min. It is located on Basilone Road. There are 150 spaces but you must remain with your car.

Thanks for this info. Wonder why I've never seen a sign for it at the airport.

Depends on:
- If you are checking bags
- If you are TSA PreCheck Qualified

If you are not checking bags and are PreCheck, one hour is sufficient. Add 15 minutes if checking bag and 20 minutes if not PreCheck

We are checking bags and we have premier access. I may be wrong, but I thought that for international flights you couldn't do advance online check-in. Has that changed? (We haven't flown internationally in three years.) Usually, the way I find out if I got TSA-pre is on my boarding pass after I do the check-in. We get it about 50% of the time. Is there any other way to find out in advance whether or not you got it? (We do not have the paid subscription ... just the random precheck status that frequent fliers can get.)

I think we'll go with arriving 2 hours ahead. (We also have a couple of free passes to the United Club, so we can always hang out there if we have time to kill.)

Good news re cell phone lot ... I've always wondered why we seemed to have the only airport in the nation without one. One of my relatives' home airport cell phone lot even has arrival/departure info screens and the like. But I would settle for a safe/legal place to put my car while waiting to do a pickup.

From United's website:

"Your domestic or international reservation is eligible for check-in on united.com, provided you have a reservation that meets the following requirements:

The first flight in your itinerary is operated by United.
Your itinerary contains a total of four flight segments or less.
You are traveling with fewer than nine persons in your party."

Saturday AM should be pretty quiet there either way. Although I have noticed at during those quiet times, sometimes TSA will shut 2 checkpoints and only have one open...

I would guess that if DHS shuts down, there is even more likelihood of shutdowns of some of the checkpoints. But ... maybe they will put more of us in pre-check status. (One can hope.)

Thanks for the info re the online check-in. That will certainly help!

sac said:

We are checking bags and we have premier access. I may be wrong, but I thought that for international flights you couldn't do advance online check-in. Has that changed? (We haven't flown internationally in three years.) Usually, the way I find out if I got TSA-pre is on my boarding pass after I do the check-in. We get it about 50% of the time. Is there any other way to find out in advance whether or not you got it? (We do not have the paid subscription ... just the random precheck status that frequent fliers can get.)

I think we'll go with arriving 2 hours ahead. (We also have a couple of free passes to the United Club, so we can always hang out there if we have time to kill.)

Good news re cell phone lot ... I've always wondered why we seemed to have the only airport in the nation without one. One of my relatives' home airport cell phone lot even has arrival/departure info screens and the like. But I would settle for a safe/legal place to put my car while waiting to do a pickup.


Do a lot of international flights with United (lucky me). The only two variables that change between domestic and international are:

- Check in process
- Boarding

For check in, the biggest bottleneck is typically checking bags. Premier makes that a lot nicer. The agent will check your passports while you check your bags. After that, you go through the same security lines as everyone else. At the gate, they typically start boarding at least 45 minutes before the scheduled departure time as opposed to 20-30 minutes for domestic. They often do a secondary passport check at the gate.

Unless it's a Monday morning or a Thursday evening (i.e. consultant travel day) or the start of a holiday, 2 hours should be plenty.



I don't think 2 hours in advance for international is "safe" at Newark, because 1 hour in advance there isn't "safe" for domestic. Sure, you could luck out, but the one time I got to EWR just a tad less than 1 hour ahead for domestic, the line was 5 times as long as I had ever seen it. At the rate the line was moving, I wouldn't have gotten to the gate within 1 hour, much less gotten there before they shut down boarding. I called the airline, luckily got through relatively fast, and rescheduled for later in the day.

I've flown internationally from EWR too many times to count. I always give it 2 hours and have never even come close to running low on time for the flight.

I agree that 1 hour lead time for domestic flights can sometimes be a close call.


The United app lets you take a pic of your passport for check in. Make sure the app is updated. It's a fairly new feature.

Edit to add: my suggestion of maybe a bit more than 2 hours is for infrequent travelers. If you have status you know the drill so 2 hrs fine.

I've only seen EWR once where 2 hrs wouldn't be enough. Line went all the way down the escalators and wound around itself the entire length of the floor below. They weren't letting anyone regardless of status up the escalator.

How I managed to escape is a trade secret oh oh

united recommends 3 hours for int'l. i assume all international is the same (europe vs costa rica) it is listed on their web site (somewhere) for sure. (at least as of nov 2014)

have a great trip

One hour is insane for an international flight... don't even consider that option, please.

PeggyC said:

One hour is insane for an international flight... don't even consider that option, please.
I never considered that. Debating between 2 hours or more.


Jackson_Fusion said:

The United app lets you take a pic of your passport for check in. Make sure the app is updated. It's a fairly new feature.
So I can only do it with the app, not the computer?


If you print your boarding pass at home, it will show if you have TSA pre-check for the flight. You can print/check-in 24 hours before the flight departure.

PetuniaBird said:

If you print your boarding pass at home, it will show if you have TSA pre-check for the flight. You can print/check-in 24 hours before the flight departure.
Right, but Jackson's post said something about taking a picture of the passport for check-in purposes. I know I can deposit a check in my bank account with my phone, but not my computer (despite owning a scanner), so I'm wondering if it is similar. This is the first time I've flown internationally since these new features were available.


Go to the apple or android/Google App Store and download the United app. Register with your onepass frequent flier number (not sure you have to but you should). Then enter your confirmation under "check in". If I recall correctly it should prompt you to use the phone or iPad camera to scan your passport when it recognizes it's an international flight. If it's domestic you don't have to scan anything.

Then your boarding pass will be on your phone. You scan it at security and when you board. That's it!

Pro tip- take a screen shot of your boarding pass with the phone so that if security is long and it logs you out you can just pull up the photo. Works like a charm.

Edit to add- not sure if it can be done on a PC but the app is pretty good.

This may help:

https://hub.united.com/en-us/news/company-operations/pages/passport-scanning-now-offered-in-united-app.aspx

We have the app, I just usually check in with my computer and do both passengers at once from the account that made the reservation. I do get the boarding passes on our phones.

It sounds like we need to do them individually from each of our phones under our own accounts then?

I looked for the cellphone lot last week & it kind of seems like a nightmare. Good idea but far away, sketchy (tho it was dark & snowy) & inconvenient.

lanky said:

Depends on:
- If you are checking bags
- If you are TSA PreCheck Qualified

If you are not checking bags and are PreCheck, one hour is sufficient. Add 15 minutes if checking bag and 20 minutes if not PreCheck


Ignore this post. Security can take 40 minutes on a bad day. Don't cut it this close. I

TSA precheck only applies to domestic flights. You may get it automatically through some participating airlines, which is why you see it only 50% of the time, or you can apply for it in order to have it personally. For future reference, you are required to go to an application center if you want your own assigned number. Go to NYC and not Newark, which I just did and it is not a safe area at all. The international version of the TSA precheck requires an interview at the airport as part of the application process. Safe travels!

hauscat said:

TSA precheck only applies to domestic flights. You may get it automatically through some participating airlines, which is why you see it only 50% of the time, or you can apply for it in order to have it personally. For future reference, you are required to go to an application center if you want your own assigned number. Go to NYC and not Newark, which I just did and it is not a safe area at all. The international version of the TSA precheck requires an interview at the airport as part of the application process. Safe travels!


I think you're confusing Precheck with Global Entry. Precheck is a program run by the TSA that expedites security clearance and applies to all flights. Global Entry is run by US Customs and Border Protection that expedites the immigration / customs process when returning to the US.

^ to clarify a bit: Your Global Entry number which you can put on your airline web page when you purchase a ticket usually guarantees you you a TSA Pre Check at check in. In the US.
Outside the U.S. there's no Pre Check at security.

stateguy said:

^ to clarify a bit: Your Global Entry number which you can put on your airline web page when you purchase a ticket usually guarantees you you a TSA Pre Check at check in. In the US.
Outside the U.S. there's no Pre Check at security.


Thanks for the extra detail!

The TSA precheck folks very specifically advised me last week that it did not apply to international flights. Added: I think you are saying it will work on outgoing flights but that is not what they told me.

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