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When On Time Is Too Late For Your Airline

By Amy E. Feldman

PHILADELPHIA (CBS) - How early do you have to get to your flight before the airline can give away your seat?

Is there an industry that hates its customers more than the airline industry? Many of us, including singer Will.I.Am, wonder. Mr. IAm got to the terminal 45 minutes before his flight to China was set to depart but was denied a seat because United Airlines said he checked in too late. He got there well before the flight took off. Can the airline legally deny him the seat he paid for?

According to the United States Department of Transportation, airlines are allowed to create their own policies on check-in deadlines, the amount of time before a flight's scheduled departure that you have to present yourself.

For domestic flights you generally have to be at the gate between 10 and 30 minutes ahead of departure, but some airlines require an hour or longer. International flights can require you to get there as much as three hours beforehand.

Some airlines may simply require you to be at the ticket/baggage counter by this time; most, however, require that you get all the way to the boarding area...so leave enough time to get through security.

If you miss the check-in deadline, you may have lost your reservation and you will have to pay to rebook so be sure to know your airline's policy because you know who's at the mercy of the airline industry? Well I am.

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