The first time when I had visited Aruba and was on my way back home, I went to the airport two hours before departure. It was on a weekend. And I had not asked when I had to be there. So, I just assumed, two hours would be fine.
When I arrived at the departure hall, I was surprised that there were no other people at the Continental counter, just the clerk behind the desk. I walked straight up to him and handed him my ticket.
He told me, that I was VERY lucky! He was just in the process CLOSING the counter! If I had arrived only two minutes later, I would have missed my flight! My heart almost stopped!
From then on, I'm always three or even three and half hours before departure on the airport. I traveled always on the weekends which is always a very busy time.
I had a brief conversation with one of the US Customs officers on my way out last week and she asked me to relay some information to my company. Since the information could help people here, I might as well post it here as well.
Some airlines suggest bringing your own food when leaving Aruba as they don't have the ability to restock catering on the island. If you do buy food please remember that you can not bring any meat products through US Customs. This includes things like subway subs, pizza toppings or other similar products. While you may be planning on consuming the food before you reach the continental US, it doesn't matter to them and they will have to take it from you.
If you want to buy food to bring on the airplane, it must be after you clear US customs.
GOT BACK SATURDAY NIGHT AND WOW WHAT AN ADVENTURE AT THE AIRPORT IN ARUBA. WE WERE SCHEDULED TO LEAVE AT 3:45 SO BULLY PICKED US UP AT 12:30 WE STOOD IN LINES FROM THE TICKET COUNTER UNTIL AFTER FIRST SECURITY THEN FROM RIGHT AFTER CUSTOMS TILL WE GOT THRU SECOND SECURITY AND THEN HAD 5 MINUTES TO GET TO GATE 1. NOT TO SELF STICK TO MIDWEEK FLYING