The perfect time to arrive at the airport, according to one mathematician, may be an unsettling one. Despite most airlines advising you to arrive at least three hours prior to international departure, Jordan Ellenberg, a mathematician and professor at the University of Wisconsin – Madison argues that the best time to arrive for your flight is as late as possible, and considers every hour spent waiting to board a plane as a “negative unit.”
According to the article in Huffington Post, Ellenberg considers optimizing your life by cutting it close to boarding time. “If we routinely arrive at airports three hours ahead of time, we’ll accrue hundreds of those lost hours over the course of our lives, and that’s not an efficient use of our time on earth.”
Ellenberg’s strategy puts forth only a one to two percent chance of missing your flight, but he doesn’t seem too concerned about the prospect, quoted as saying, “If you’ve never missed a flight, you’re not doing it right.”
Although Ellenberg’s theory seems to be about saving precious time, it gives me an anxiety attack just to imagine running late for a flight. I think the notion of saving time is a noble one, but let’s be honest: There are plenty of times in travel that we spend waiting — security checkpoints, hotel check-ins, you name it — and it’s worth it to ensure we have the best trip possible.
I don’t see how my life would be better if I missed my flight — or needed an inhaler to catch one. Do you subscribe to Ellenberg’s time-saving maneuver? Tell us about your arrival-time preferences in the comments below.
— written by Brittany Chrusciel