We usually plan to get to airport 2 hours early. But we have also arrived before the ticket counter opens, and that is frustrating. Should I miss a flight because of that, I don't think I'd be too happy.
The problem with the long TSA lines is that not only TSA, but airports as well haven't made accommodations for an increase in passengers. I read that in 2015 the US set a record for the number of passengers.
Same problem in Aruba. More and more people are headed to Aruba, but I don't think they made the airport big enough when they expanded. Their expansion handled an increase in travelers for a few years, but now that number has increased above what they can handle easily.
I have to get to the airport two to three hours before my flight departure time. With Suriname Airways on a Thursday morning the flight was scheduled to depart at 7:45 am, which meant that I had to be there for 4:45 am, but I would get there for 5:00 am and be through with check-in, passport control and security by 5:35 am. Early morning work for me as the flow of traffic between where I live in the west to the airport in the east at that hour of the morning is moving fast enough. For my upcoming trip my flight will depart in the early evening, around 6:30 pm /6:45 pm. Which means I will need to leave home extra early to avoid the after school and after work traffic. Upon arrival in Curacao I will have a two to three hour wait before my flight for Aruba takes off.
We tend to like Jet Blue's 700am flight out of JFK. JFK is the worst airport to get to, but we usually just take a nap the night before and leave for the airport between 1 and 2am. It's a 2 hour drive from upstate NY, and we see virtually no traffic on the way there. Gets us to the Tam before 1pm so we have a decent first day in Aruba. I usually take the late flight home that leaves after 430 and arrives at JFK about 9pm. By the time we get our luggage the NYC traffic isn't too bad.
Leavng Aruba I've learned don't get to the airport more than 3 hrs before your flight departure.. you can't check your bags yet. I find arriving about 130 works great, we eat lunch, say a last goodbye to friends and staff and get through the airport checks quickly.
We just got back from a week in Aruba- arriving Monday May 30th and leaving on Monday June 6 and I wanted to share some thoughts, surprises we had. This is about or 10th trip, so I felt I knew everything about the airport routine - how wrong I was.
The good: Arriving in Aruba was a breeze this time. We filled out the EDD cards online before we left home, so need to hunt for a pen on the flight down. Since our last trip in 2014 they have installed entry machines in the arrival hall. You just insert your passport, wait for the picture and go pick up your bags - no need to see an Aruban immigration officer. The entire process was less the 5 minutes and worked like a charm.
The bad: We flew home on a 3:30 flight to Miami but had to take my SIL and BIL who had a 2:30 flight to JFK. So we were in the airport before noon. Check in at American was a breeze (we had 1st class tix but the coach line was moving quickly too). We breezed through Aruba security in 5 minutes and picked up our bags in customs and walked into the longest line I have ever seen in this airport. Even though it was a Monday, this was peak time as there were flights leaving for JFK, Newark, Baltimore, and Boston all around 2:30 but there were only 3 customs agents working. The line was longer than Space Mountain in Disney World as it wound around and around. You now fill out your customs info at a machine which seemed to cause some confusion to some passengers but the bottleneck was the lack of customs agents. It took us almost an hour to work our way through this line and get cleared by US Customs. I'm not sure if this is the new normal at Customs, but I would leave plenty of time to get through this mess. You can always enjoy that last frozen margarita at the Island Bar by the gates if you get through early.