I have a tight work schedule the day I depart Chicago to Rome on Alitalia. Is 1 hour prior to take off enough time? What extra stuff do I need to do in Chicago for this international flight?
If you get to Chicago airport one hour before a long-haul flight, I wish you the best of luck.
1 is Always positive and optimistic. Read your ticket and airline information, consider 3 hours. We can’t give you authoritative advice on your airport and airline rules and requirements in Chicago. Nor can we redo your schedule for you.
The usual advice is to get to the airport three hours before a long haul flight. I wouldn't dream of deliberately getting there just an hour before. You have no leeway for delays if you do. The issue comes down to money. Will you (or perhaps it is your employer) be happy to stump up for a new ticket at walk up rates should you miss your planned flight?
Preparation for an international flight involves check-in, which may have long queues, then security which again may have long queues. Then you must be at the gate some time before boarding time, which is usually a half hour prior to flight departure. That is, the gate closes then. Hence the recommendation for 3 hours. Even then, on one occasion, we were told we were too late to check in as the flight was full. We only made it because we had connecting flights which had to be met.
I may not have much choice. does anyone know if the protocal is actually logistically different from any other flight? I get the normal "check in" process and I understand possible delays. I'm asking if there is anything different about this check in process such as customs or screening that could take longer than a domestic flight.
Why did you post this in the Rome forum if your question is about Chicago airport?
Also, there is no Customs control upon leaving the US. Not is there Immigration control. The only thing that’s different for an international flight is that the airline will want to see your passport and validate you are ok to travel to Italy, as they will be footing the bill of Italy refuses to let you enter.
Have you ever been through a US airport in the last decade? Have you ever seen the news articles about wait times at US airports?
It would be foolish to show up with only 1 hour to go. If you have some kind of skip-the-line status it may be possible. It’s not a risk I’d personally take.Edited: 20 June 2018, 20:05
Also unless Alitalia is different, most international flights require you to check in at the airport counter with your passport. (Thankfully United now has their app setup so it will take a picture of your passport and check in online) but most other airlines I believe still require going to the counter to get your boarding pass.
I saw no indication of which forum this was. I simply posed the question. I was asking the question BECAUSE I do not know. Thanks for being so friendly. My travel habits aside, I will not have a choice on an earlier arrival, so I am attempting to understand all that I can so I can give myself the best odds of making it. I will seek information elsewhere.
Can also try to increase your odds by getting TSA Precheck to try and get through airport security as quick as possible.
Ben, I assume you are flying out of O'Hare. From O'Hare's website, FAQ section:
How much time should I allow before my flight?
The TSA recommends that you should arrive 3 hours prior to an international flights and 2 hours prior to a domestic flights.
As others have advised, you will not have to go through passport or customs control at Chicago. Security protocol will be similar to a domestic flight. The only difference is you will need to produce your passport to obtain your boarding pass. Most airlines have a scanner at the self check-in kiosks and so you won't have to queue at a check-in desk for your boarding pass. However, some airlines still request to see your passport at the gate so that an actual employee looks at your passport before you board the flight. I don't know what Alitalia requires at O'Hare.
As others have also pointed out, the other potential problem is that airlines are keen to close the door at the gate as soon as possible for international flights. There is one airport in the US (can't recall which one) where they always close the gate doors 30 minutes prior to takeoff. They do that so that everyone already on the plane can get situated, get their luggage packed away, flight attendants get their pre-checks done, etc. All so that they can push off from the gate on time (if not a few minutes early) and make sure they get in line for take-off if at a large airport or hub.