Sacramento International Airport serves Sacramento County and downtown Sacramento in Northern California. As an international airport, it sees a lot of business. Recently, Sacramento Airport has seen its activity increase leading to longer-than-usual wait times. These waits occur at ticketing stations, security checkpoints, and baggage areas. Such waits do not even account for passenger traffic itself. If you want to approach your travel day at SMF the right way, and enjoy those wait times rather than dread them, then you want to be prepared and arrive hours in advance. So here are the most important factors you should consider for planning when to arrive at Sacramento International Airport.

How Early Should I Get to the Airport for Domestic Flights?

According to both the Sacramento International Airport and the TSA, the best time to arrive for domestic flights is two hours before take-off. Travelers will enjoy a less stressful trip as a two-hour window provides extra time for shuttle service, parking, ticketing, baggage, security, and the trek to the gate. According to the TSA, you can cut down on the two-hour window by taking care of some things at home. Mostly, this applies to online check-ins, parking arrangements, and shuttle service.

This coming season, Sacramento Airport is expected to have over a million passengers using its facilities. This number covers June, July, and August. The airport has never seen such high numbers before, so preparing for mishaps is also a smart move. If you’re traveling during peak hours of 5-7 a.m., 12 noon – 2 p.m., and 6-8 p.m., you should give yourself a little extra buffer. Allow at least a two-hour window before your scheduled flight to enjoy a stress-free arrival at Sacramento International. Who knows, you may even have enough time to stop for breakfast!

How Early Should I Arrive At the Airport for International Flights?

If you are traveling internationally, you’ll want to add another hour to your pre-flight arrival. Sacramento Airport and TSA both agree that international flights are best enjoyed with a wide travel window. This does not just cover departures but also arrivals. International flights coming and going have to go through customs pre-screening, agriculture checks, and security stations. Departures and arrivals can both expect long lines even in the off-peak times. So put on some comfortable shoes and prepare to stand.

As Sacramento International will be servicing over a million passengers, travel will be more hectic than usual. A 3-hour window will account for any mishaps that can occur as well as busy terminals. The volume of people trekking through the gates may be stressful, but you will not have to stress about making your flight. Plan for three-hours and take a little weight off your shoulders.

How Early Should I Check My Bags at the Airport?

A tricky factor that can be overlooked in air travel is the baggage check. Airlines have different check-in times when they accept bags for certain flights. Luckily, most of these check-in times adhere to the two or three-hour arrival window that SMF and TSA suggest. Some have different requirements, however, so it is always smart to find that little detail out. So be sure to check with your specific airline on how early before your flight departure they can accept your bags.

What Time is Security/TSA open at Sacramento International?

The TSA security times differ from airport to airport. Some airports like Jackson have their stations open 24/7. Security can be one of those overlooked factors that passengers miss. Much like luggage they are not necessarily thought about. However, if you have an off-hour flight it is something to consider. At Sacramento International Airport Security/TSA opens at 4 a.m. It is always a good idea to get online and check the TSA times for your airport. This can help you better plan for your trip.