Why I Always Get to My Gate 10 Minutes Prior to Boarding

I know many people in the travel community will fault me for this, but I’m a stickler of wanting to get to the gate 10 minutes prior to scheduled boarding. While I do have lounge access privileges that would give me a comfortable place to sit longer, and elite benefits that would get me boarding at pretty much anytime, I still want to arrive early at the gate, for several reasons:

I want overhead bin space

I value overhead bin space, and the convenience it gives to grab my bags and get directly off of the flight without having to fight people to get a back stowed even farther back, or, worse, have to go to baggage claim. To me, getting my bags in the space over my seat is important, and I’m willing to arrive at the gate earlier if it means I’ll be one of the first to board. I’ve been in way too many situations where I’ve arrived late into the process and all of the First Class bin space is full.

I don’t want to wait in the jet bridge.

Often, the jet bridge can either be really cold, or really warm, depending on the season. I’d either rather wait in the terminal or on the plane, but not in the middle. Getting to the gate early means being one of the first to board.

If my upgrade doesn’t clear.

If my upgrade hasn’t cleared yet, I’ll want to watch the departure screen to see if it does, or be in the gate area if an agent makes an announcement. I don’t want to arrive late and then be in a position to be without overhead bin space.

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If the flight is oversold.

If the flight is oversold, I especially want to arrive early if I am in a position to take a bump and a voucher. I’ve written a guide to volunteer bumping, and one of my tips is to arrive as early as possible to get your name on the list, that way you’ll be the first to be called if they need a seat.

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It’s not a hard science by any means, but I try to get to the gate a few minutes early, just because I feel that time is better well spent than the consequences if I don’t. Certainly, I know many people that arrive at their leisure and that works for them well.

Do you get to your boarding gate early, or do you usually arrive just in time or in the middle of boarding?

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  1. mighein says

    Good thoughts!

    For me, it varies depending on whether I am in first/business class, how big my carry on is, whether I want an early drink on board, etc. If I’m in coach with a planeside checked bag so all I’m carrying is my laptop bag, I’ll probably wait until the very last minute to arrive.

  2. Ash says

    Totally agree! I primarily arrive early to board early- whether it’s first class or using my elite early boarding. Don’t want to be going slowly through the jet bridge line into the aircraft!

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