Let’s face it: checking in at the airport can be super stressful. With long lines, noisy crowds, and long delays, it can feel like one of the most challenging parts of any trip abroad. Luckily, today we have more options to make your time in the airport run smoother. With online check-in, you’ll get to choose your seats, meals, drop off your baggage ahead of time, get your boarding pass with ease, and more.

Once you see how simple it is to get the benefits of online check-in online, you’ll wonder why you ever did it any other way.

How do I Check-In Online?

On laptop using benefits of online check-in

First, you’ll want to visit your airline’s website. There’s usually a check-in option available right on the homepage where you’ll provide your last name and booking confirmation number, which can usually be found in the email they sent you after you booked your flight. Sometimes, you can enter a frequent flyer or credit card number, or log in to the airline website if you have an account with them. For an international flight, they’ll ask for your passport number.

As you go through the online check-in pages, you’ll be asked if you’d like to pay for luggage. This will often be cheaper to do online than at the airport – so you should definitely go for it. You’ll likely also be asked about your meal and seat preferences. If your flight has meal options, they’ll ask for your preference. If not, they’ll assign you a random seat. Then, you can choose to either print your boarding pass, which you can download as a PDF file, or access it on the airline’s mobile app.

Even while using online check-in, you can usually print your boarding pass at the airport if you don’t have access to a printer or a smartphone. However, some airlines will charge you for this, so you may want to check your airline’s policy so you don’t run into any unexpected charges.

Related: Everything You Need to Know About TSA PreCheck

When Should I Check In?

Woman using the benefits of online check-in

Most airlines allow you to check in up to 24 hours before your flight. And, most people do it sometime between the night before or just as they’re about to leave the house. But, if you haven’t paid for a seat assignment, or you don’t have the option to choose your seat when you’re booking your flight deals, checking in as soon as the airline allows you to is a good way to ensure you get the best seat available.

Why Should I Use Online Check-In?

Searching what are the benefits of online check-in

There are many benefits to using online check-in for flights. For one thing, you’re able to check in as early as possible, which helps with seat assignment options. Many airlines will offer you better prices for luggage when you pay online than you’ll get at the airport. They’ll also charge more for luggage at the gate than they charge at the check-in counter.

Online check-in is often a great way to save time at the airport. If you don’t need to check in any luggage, you can bypass the check-in desk at the airport altogether. By removing this part of the airport procedure, you’re able to head straight to the security line and find the gate. While it may take you a minute or two longer the first time you use online check-in, your future flights will be much faster and easier with this procedure part of your flying routine. If you have baggage to check in, you can usually find a kiosk near the check-in desk to drop off your checked baggage when you’ve already checked-in online, which is a much faster process. The lines at the kiosks are typically shorter than the line at the counter.

Is Online Check-In Always an Option?

Travel agent shows traveler the benefits of online check-in

Sometimes, checking in online isn’t always an option. This applies to you if you’re traveling in a large group, if the TSA needs to perform a secondary screening, when you need special assistance, or when you’re flying internationally and the airline needs to do a document check on your passport. It’s always best to research this info ahead of time so that you’ll be extra prepared.

Have you ever checked in online? If yes, how did it go? Tell us about your experience below!

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