If you’ve ever checked out of your Airbnb several hours before your flight begins boarding, you might think to yourself: What exactly do you do with your luggage if you want to explore your destination a little while longer? If it were a hotel, the answer’s easy; you could leave your things at the front desk for a few hours and return before you head for the airport. Of course, you could also wait at the airport for your flight, too, but if you’ve come here, you’re likely looking for a less painful solution.
Unfortunately, once it’s check-out time at an Airbnb, your options become significantly more limited—which means you’ll likely be forced to lug your 20-kilo Samsonite with a broken wheel from one tourist attraction to another. (If your accomodation is far from your airport, you might also be forced to consider a better option than travelling back for your luggage, too.)
Over on Reddit, u/cavmax asked a simple question: How many hours in advance of your flight can you check your luggage? If, for instance, you have eight hours to kill, it might prove simpler to check your suitcase early and rest easy knowing you don’t have to worry about the checked bag process at the airport, or drag your bag around town.
Officially, you might find that most major airlines will allow you to check your bag for up to three hours in advance of your flight.
Off the record, however, you might find that there are exceptions; on the Flyertalk forums, other users report that the three-hour rule exists for non-hub airports. This means you might have slightly better chances checking your bags on the day of your departure at a busy airport, just because there are airline agents present throughout the day and they might be better equipped to handle your luggage.
According to a Delta rep I spoke with in the U.S., they, too, agreed that it depends on your airport, as well as whether you’re travelling internationally or not. (If you’re travelling domestically, chances are your ability to check a bag earlier might be limited by comparison).
Where does this leave you? Well, given that it’s highly contingent on your airport and travel plans, use the three-hours as a baseline. You should reach out to your airline to confirm their rule, and if all else fails, several airports offer luggage storage on the premises. (Here are a couple of other resources you might use, too.)
And remember, if you have an overnight layover, you might be responsible for grabbing your luggage at baggage claim and re-checking it, depending on the airline. Be sure to ask airline staff about checking your bag to your final destination, if it’s possible.