Dreams' official check-out time is 12:00 p.m. Late check-out is available for $10 per hour. It must be coordinated with the concierge (in-person) the day before departure.
The evening before we left, the concierge called our room to schedule a pickup time for our baggage. He suggested that our bags be collected 25 minutes before our ride to the airport.
We cannot overstate how much better Dreams’ process is compared to the way that baggage is handled at Beaches Turks and Caicos. At Dreams, we left our bags packed in our room and went to breakfast. Our suitcases were waiting for us in the lobby. At Beaches, we had to leave our suitcases outside our room; they baked in the sun for 75 minutes before someone retrieved them!
The entire check out process at Dreams took less than five minutes. Our driver was waiting for us in the driveway and we cruised to the airport in 30 minutes.
How Early to Arrive at Punta Cana International Airport
Our plane's departure time was 10:58 a.m., but our car service recommended that we depart the resort at 7:45 a.m. We thought that was overkill (the ride to the airport was only 30 minutes), but it turned out to be exactly the amount of time we needed.
A valet grabbed our bags when we arrived at the airport, but he was just fishing for an unnecessary tip: It's a short walk to the counter.
The check-in process at PUJ was painfully slow because the airport's computer system was buggy and the counter staff shared luggage scales for no apparent reason. We waited 45 minutes for our tickets. (We regret not checking in online, but even the expedited line was slow.)
Thankfully, the security line only took 5-10 minutes and the immigration line took another 15 minutes. Yes, there is also an immigration line when you depart the Dominican Republic, and you need to fill out the same forms as when you entered. Our driver had copies of these forms and we saved some time by filling them out on the way to the airport.
Beyond the TSA 3-1-1 Rule
PUJ has tighter restrictions for carry-on baggage than we were used to. Stick deodorant, cartridge razors and cosmetics are not allowed through security. Additionally, several workers in the airport were announcing that food was not allowed beyond the security line.
About That "No Food in the Airport" Policy
We packed snacks and sandwiches for ourselves and were annoyed to learn that we couldn't bring them through the security line. An airport worker explained to us (in Spanish) that the airport is owned by private businesses: They want you to buy $12 hamburgers and overpriced snacks.
That same worker told us that a reasonable amount of food packed in our daughter's bag was unlikely to be taken. Indeed, no one blinked an eye at the Fruit Loops, buns and potato chips we brought. (Alas, we wolfed-down our sandwiches before entering the security line.)
Our plane started boarding 25 minutes earlier than it was supposed to, just like the counter staff had predicted. Keep your ticket stubs and passports handy. Our were checked multiple times, including on the tarmac just before we boarded.
The bathrooms at the airport are big and were kept immaculately clean. Score!
There are charging stations beyond the security line (near the gates).
We didn't risk drinking the water from fountains in the airport. It is marked as "Potable," but potable for whom. Dominican natives? Or everyone?