Do Airports Close at Night? Guide to Airport Opening and Closing Hours

Do airports close at night? While at this question, have you ever wondered why airports in the US don’t operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week?

Airports are bustling areas that never seem to sleep and have been compared to small cities. Even after the last flight lands, overnight crews work to service and clean the aircraft while airline staff makes sure all passengers have left and that the first flights of the next day are on schedule.

In 2017, Harriet Baskas who covers Specials for USA TODAY managed to get behind the scenes of United Airlines’ overnight operations at Denver International Airport.

Snapshot of USA Today Article detailing a report on Airport activities overnight
Snapshot of USA Today Article detailing a report on Airport activities overnight. Credit: USA Today

Do airports close at night?

Table of Contents

Airports don’t technically close when the last plane takes off or lands for the night. With few exceptions, there are always people at the airport in case of emergencies like air traffic controllers, security, and law enforcement. There is also staff present to clean and do maintenance as necessary. If planes require repairs or upkeep, overnights are often the best time to do them because planes aren’t typically needed during those hours.

Oftentimes, passengers miss their flight or it gets canceled, and they have to wait until morning to take the next one. Fortunately, sometimes there are options for them to sleep at the airport.

Why Airports close at night:

Sound ordinance:

Most airports are located near residential areas, so they have to adhere to noise restrictions. This means that planes can only take off and land during certain hours so as not to disturb sleeping residents nearby. A writer who lived under the flight path of JFK airport until he was 10 years old noted how loud planes can be. Some cities have noise ordinances in place so that planes cannot fly over them between certain hours.

Runway conditions:

Runways need to be inspected and cleared of any debris before planes can use them. This is typically done in the early morning hours before the first flights take off. If there are bad weather conditions overnight, crews will also have to work to clear the runway and make sure it is safe for use.

Staffing:

There are a limited number of staff members who are able to work overnight shifts. This includes air traffic controllers, security, and other necessary personnel. As a result, there are fewer flights during these hours.

Passenger demand:

The majority of people do not want to travel overnight, so there is less demand for flights during these hours. This is why most airlines don’t offer many options for red-eye flights.

So while airports never technically close, there are a number of reasons why there are fewer flights and staff members overnight. If you’re ever stuck at the airport overnight, make sure to find a comfortable spot to sleep and have your boarding pass handy in case you need it.

Which airports operate at night:

Cargo-handling airports:

Most airports that operate at night are cargo-handling airports. This is because there is typically more demand for overnight shipping than there is for passenger travel. These airports often have very little lighting so that pilots can see the runway better. They also don’t have many amenities for passengers since they’re not expecting any.

24-hour airports:

Some airports are open 24 hours a day, but they typically don’t have many flights during the overnight hours. These airports usually have a few staff members on hand in case of emergencies. Las Vegas’ McCarran International Airport and Atlanta’s Hartsfield-Jackson International Airport are two examples of 24-hour airports.

When do airports close at night?

Most passenger terminals in airports close around 10 pm although some airport facilities such as lounges, shops, sleep pods and restaurants may start closing or taking orders from as early as 8pm. If it is a smaller airport, they may even close as early as 6pm but airport landing and take off may continue until 10 pm. It all depends on the airport, their regulations and what type of airport it is.

For security reasons, many airports now have locked doors that only ticketed passengers can pass through after a certain time. This means that if you are not flying out, you will not be able to stay in the terminal and will have to leave.

What to do if you’re stuck at the airport overnight:

If you find yourself stuck at the airport overnight, there are a few things you can do to make the experience more bearable. First, try to find a comfortable spot to sleep. This may be difficult since most airports have hard, uncomfortable chairs. If you’re lucky, you may be able to find an stuck at the airport overnight:

If you find yourself stuck at the airport overnight, there are a few things you can do to make the experience more bearable.

Find a comfortable spot to sleep:

If you’re lucky, you’ll be able to find a comfortable spot to sleep on one of the benches or in one of the chairs. If not, you can always try to find a spot on the floor. Just make sure to have your boarding pass handy in case you need it. Some airports have sleeping pods that you can rent for a fee.

Eat and drink:

Most airports have at least a few restaurants and cafes that are open 24 hours a day. This is a good time to get something to eat or drink. Just be aware that prices at airport restaurants are often higher than they are elsewhere.

Stay entertained:

If you have a laptop, tablet, or smartphone, you can use it to stay entertained. There are also usually a few TVs scattered around the airport that you can watch. If all else fails, you can always people-watch.

Find a place to shower:

If you’re going to be stuck at the airport overnight, you may want to find a place to take a shower. This can be difficult since most airport showers are located in public restrooms. However, some airports have pay-per-use lounges that offer shower facilities.

What time does San Diego Airport open?

Although San Diego International Airport (SAN) is open at all hours of the day, penalties will be accrued for departures outside of the time frame between 6:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m.. Check-in typically opens at 4:30 a.m., but this may differ depending on the airline you are flying with.

What time does Airport security open?

The hours for airport security vary depending on the airport. However, most security checkpoints open at least two hours before the first flight of the day. So, if you’re flying out early in the morning, you’ll need to get to the airport well before security opens.

While other airport workers and airline crew go to sleep at night, airport security never stops working. There are always security guards on duty, monitoring the airport and its passengers.

Preparations to spend a night at the airport:

If you know in advance that you’ll be spending the night at the airport, there are a few things you can do to make the experience more bearable.

  • First, try to dress in comfortable clothing that you can easily sleep in.
  • You may also want to bring along a small pillow and blanket to make sleeping more comfortable.
  • It’s also a good idea to bring along any medications that you might need.
  • Finally, be sure to have your boarding pass handy in case you need it.

Spending the night at the airport can be an unpleasant experience, but there are a few things you can do to make it more bearable. With a little preparation, you can get through the night without too much trouble.

What if I have a morning flight and airport is closed?

If you have a morning flight and the airport is closed, you’ll need to find a place to stay near the airport. There are usually a few hotels located nearby. Just be sure to check the airport’s website or give them a call to find out which hotels are closest. Some hotels located close to the airport offer shuttle services which come handy as Uber and Taxis are not available at wee hours in some airports.

If taxi is available at around 3 or 4 am in your City, then you can book one for the airport. But, do check with your airline about the check-in time as it may differ from one terminal to another in the same airport.

It’s always a good idea to call your airline ahead of time to find out what their procedures are for flying out of an airport that is closed.

When do airports open in the morning?

Some airports open as early as 4:00 am, while others don’t open until 6:00 or 7:00 am. It’s always a good idea to check the airport’s website or give them a call to find out their exact hours of operation. Even some airports that close or that don’t operate 24/7, they mostly allow departures between 6:30 a.m. and 11:30 p.m.

Consider 6 am to be a safe time to depart if your airport opens at that time in the morning.

Do remember that the security checkpoints will open earlier than the rest of the airport, so you’ll need to be there well in advance of your flight.

For domestic flights, you should aim to be at the airport two hours before your flight is scheduled to depart.

For international flights, you should aim to be at the airport three hours before your flight is scheduled to depart.

This will give you plenty of time to check in, go through security, and get to your gate.

What time does logan airport open?

Logan Airport is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week but the security checkpoints do close at around 10 pm and passengers are required to stay in the public, pre-security areas until they reopen. The security checkpoints typically open one to two hours before the first departure of the day and close after the last arrival has cleared the area. The checkpoints for Terminals A, B, and C open at 4:00 AM and Terminal E checkpoints open at 4:30 AM.

You should check with your airline to see what time they recommend you arrive before your flight as times may vary depending on the terminal.

Keep in mind that even if Logan Airport is open 24 hours a day, not all airport services and facilities are available at all times. For example, some restaurants and shops may close overnight.

What time does LAX airport open?

LAX is operational 24 hours a day but passenger check-in counters and federal passenger security screening areas are open between the hours of 4 a.m. to 5 a.m., Pacific Time. The federal passenger security screening closes at 11:30 p.m. and reopens at 2:30 a.m., Pacific Time, depending upon flight schedules for each terminal.

FAQs

what time do airports close at night?

Most airports close at night, usually around 11 pm. However, some airports are open 24 hours a day. Some airports may allow departures up to 11:30 pm without penalizing the airline but it is safe to assume that you airport gates for terminals, lounges and restaurants will close from 10 pm.

what time to get to airport for 5am flight?

You should aim to be at the airport three hours before your flight is scheduled to depart. This will give you plenty of time to check in, go through security, and get to your gate. If you’re flying internationally, arrive at the airport at 2 am and if you are flying domestic, make sure you are at your Terminal by 3 am for a 5 am flight.

Are airports open 24/7?

No, airports are not open 24/7. Most airports close at night, usually around 11 pm. However, some airports are open 24 hours a day. Some airports may allow departures up to 11:30 pm without penalizing the airline but it is safe to assume that you airport gates for terminals, lounges and restaurants will close from 10 pm.

What time do airport workers start their shift?

The hours of operation for airport workers also vary depending on the airport. However, most employees start their shift two to four hours before the first flight of the day. So, if you’re flying at 6 am, expect airport staff to start their day around 2-4 am.

When do security checkpoints open at airports?

The security checkpoints at airports typically open one to two hours before the first departure of the day and close after the last arrival has cleared the area. The checkpoints for Terminals A, B, and C open at 4:00 AM and Terminal E checkpoints open at 4:30 AM. Check with your airline to see what time they recommend you arrive before your flight as times may vary depending on the terminal.

What is the earliest time I can check in for my flight?

Check-in times vary by airline but it is generally recommended that you arrive at the airport two to three hours before your flight is scheduled to depart. This will give you plenty of time to check in, go through security, and get to your gate.

I have a connecting flight. How much time should I allow between flights?

It is generally recommended that you allow at least two hours between flights when you have a connecting flight. This will give you plenty of time to make your way to your next gate and board your second flight.

What is the latest time I can check in for my flight?

Check-in times vary by airline but it is generally recommended that you arrive at the airport two to three hours before your flight is scheduled to depart. Considering that the latest flights depart around 10pm, the latest check-in time is around 8 to 10 pm for small airports that close at night. For airports that operate 24/7, some airlines may have a check-in time up to an hour before departure.

What is the latest time I can board my flight?

The latest time you can board your flight is typically 45 minutes before departure. This will give you enough time to go through security and make your way to your gate.

What time does baggage claim open?

Baggage claim usually opens around the same time that the first flight arrives. So, if your flight is scheduled to arrive at 6 am, baggage claim will likely open at 6 am. Baggage claim staff, however, close the baggage claim when the airport closes at around 10 pm so if you have to claim lost luggage, you may not be able to get them after 10pm as they reopen around 6 am daily.

What time do airport workers finish their shift?

The hours of operation for airport workers also vary depending on the airport. However, most employees start their shift two to four hours before the first flight of the day and finish around two hours after the last flight has arrived. So, if the last flight arrives at 10 pm, expect airport staff to finish their day around midnight.

What time do security checkpoints close at airports?

The security checkpoints at airports typically open one to two hours before the first departure of the day and close after the last arrival has cleared the area. The checkpoints for Terminals A, B, and C close at 10:00 PM and Terminal E checkpoints close at 11:00 PM. Check with your airline to see what time they recommend you arrive before your flight as times may vary depending on the terminal.

What is the latest time I can check my baggage?

The latest time you can check your baggage is typically 45 minutes before departure although some airlines may mandate up to 2 hours. This will give you enough time to go through security and make your way to your gate.

What is the latest time I can claim my baggage?

The latest time you can claim your baggage is typically 30 minutes after the last flight has arrived. So, if the last flight arrives at 10 pm, you have until 10:30 pm to claim your baggage.

What are the opening hours of airport shops and restaurants?

For airports that operate 24/7 such as JFK, some restaurants and shops remain open throughout. However, smaller airports have opening and closing hours that maybe similar to airports’ opening and closing hours. The opening hours of airport shops and restaurants also vary depending on the airport. However, most are open from the early morning until the last flight has arrived. Expect most shops and restaurants to open from around 6 am and serves customers until the last flight arrives at 10 pm.

What time do parking lots close at airports?

Most airport parking will close at around 10 pm unless they are not manned by staff and rely on electronically-activated chip cards that allow you to enter and exit the parking lot. In this case, check with your airport to see what time their parking lots close as it may vary.

For airports that operate 24/7, the parking lots usually close at 2 am.

What is the latest time I can pick someone up from the airport?

The latest time you can pick someone up from the airport is typically 30 minutes after the last flight has arrived. So, if the last flight arrives at 10 pm, you have until 10:30 pm to pick them up.

What is the latest time I can drop someone off at the airport?

The latest time you can drop someone off at the airport is typically 45 minutes before departure although some airlines may mandate up to 2 hours. This will give you enough time to go through security and make your way to your gate.

What are airport check-in procedures?

Airport check-in procedures start one to two hours before the first flight of the day and close around 45 minutes before departure. Check with your airline to see what time they recommend you arrive before your flight as times may vary depending on the terminal.