If the check-in for the return flight doesn’t work, that’s annoying.
Most airlines allow early check-in only 48 hours before the scheduled departure. There are several reasons why passengers are usually unable to check in advance for both flights (roundtrip), especially if there are several days between flights.
- Operational and logistical reasons
- Security & Regulatory Reasons
- Customer Interaction
- Return flight check-in does not work – What to do
Operational and logistical reasons:
Airlines are required to complete certain security checks before a passenger can board. Check-in just before your flight ensures that all up-to-date information is available.
Flight status updates
By keeping check-in closer to the departure date, airlines can ensure that passengers receive the latest information about their flight, including any delays or gate changes.
Baggage drop-off and handling
Baggage drop-off is a central part of the air travel process, which is regulated by weight and safety restrictions. Modern airports use complex systems for baggage sorting and tracking, especially for connecting flights. Special baggage often has special requirements and may incur additional charges. Errors such as loss of luggage or damage can occur and are problematic for travelers. The timely handling of check-in and baggage drop-off ensures an efficient process and minimizes logistical challenges.
Flight Load Factor and Operations
Check-in closer to the flight date gives airlines a more accurate idea of the flight’s occupancy. This can be helpful in managing overbookings or rebookings.
Many airlines allow passengers to choose or change their seats. Early check-in could limit this flexibility.
Airlines are required to complete certain security checks before a passenger can board. Check-in just before your flight ensures that all up-to-date information is available
Visa and Entry Requirements
Entry requirements may change between the outbound and return flights, especially for international flights and long layovers. Airlines must ensure that passengers have the correct visas or other entry permits for their destination.
Period of validity of travel documents
Some countries require a passport to be valid for a certain period of time after the intended departure. Check-in closer to the departure date helps identify and address such issues.
Customer Service & Retention
By encouraging customers to log back into their system, airlines have the opportunity to offer additional services or products, which in turn can lead to more revenue.
Prevention of misuse
Setting check-in time slots can prevent passengers from checking in well in advance and then changing their travel plans without informing the airline.
Limitations of IT systems
Airline IT systems are often designed to open only a certain window of time before the flight for check-in.
Return flight check-in not possible – your options
- Check check-in period: Find out how far in advance you can check-in for your airline. Information on check-in for each airline can be found on this page.
- Check your website and app: In case you’re having trouble with the mobile app, try checking in through the airline’s official website. Conversely, if you are having trouble with the website, the app might work.
- Check travel documents: Make sure that all necessary travel documents, such as passport or visa, are valid and meet the requirements of the destination country.
- Consider overbooking: In rare cases, overbooking may be the reason that check-in is not possible. In this case, you should know your rights as a passenger and check with the airline for compensation or alternative flight options.