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Charlotte airport expecting heavy traffic starting Thursday

Charlotte Douglas International Airport is expecting large crowds through next week as passengers head home for the holidays. Airlines report flights will be at near capacity. For a stress-free experience, CLT suggests travelers plan ahead, be prepared and arrive early for their flights.

Projected passenger numbers for travelers originating their flight at CLT are as follows:

  • Friday, December 19 – 25,764 passengers
  • Saturday, December 20 – 24,715 passengers
  • Sunday, December 21 – 22,481 passengers
  • Monday, December 22 – 23,127 passengers

That’s in addition to the 100,000 passengers who connect through CLT each day.

Contributing to that number, approximately 3,700 troops in basic training at Fort Jackson in S.C. will depart CLT Thursday, Dec. 18 – Saturday, Dec. 20 for their two week holiday leave known as Operation Exodus. The bulk of soldiers – approximately 3,000 – will depart the airport on Saturday, Dec. 20.

The Christmas holidays are the second busiest time of the year for Charlotte Douglas. Thanksgiving is the first. Last month, holiday passenger traffic set records. From Tuesday, Nov. 25 – Sunday, Nov. 30 – 125,619 local passengers originated their trip at CLT. It was a 2.2 percent jump from last year at that time.

Security checkpoints are scheduled to open at 4 a.m. Ticket counters will begin greeting customers between 4:30 and 4:45 a.m. Passengers, as a reminder, should check with their airlines for any weather related questions.

Parking will be in high demand Friday, December 19 – Friday, December 26. Drivers are encouraged to use the new Hourly Deck for picking up and dropping off passengers. It is free for the first hour and within walking distance to the terminal. Customer service representatives are positioned inside and outside the deck to assist passengers. Access to and from the terminal is available on level 2. Since the deck opened on Thursday, November 20, 43,000 transactions have been made.

To accommodate holiday travel demands, CLT is:

  • Stationing traffic officers in front of the terminal and along other roadway locations as needed to assist with traffic flow, as well as positioning additional Aviation Department, TSA and airline staff in the lobby to assist customers
  • Placing information officers inside the new Hourly Deck to help navigate drivers and passengers to the terminal
  • Adding more resources to Airport shuttle bus and parking operations

If traveling over the holidays, plan your trip to the Airport.

  • Visit parking.charlotteairport.com and view CLT’s real-time parking map.
  • Call 704.359.5555 to hear the latest parking conditions.
  • Slow down and adhere to the signs when approaching the terminal. Several roadway changes have occurred over the past year at Charlotte Douglas.
  • Pay attention to and follow CLT’s dynamic roadway signs strategically located around Charlotte Douglas for information on which lots are open or closed.
  • Use the Pay&Go stations when leaving the terminal for a quicker exit. Four Pay&Go stations are located in the new Hourly Deck and at the Daily deck’s shuttle bus stop. Two more are located on the curbside in front of the Arrivals/Baggage area. Remember to keep your ticket with you. Upon your return trip home, place your parking ticket in a Pay&Go station and pay by credit card. A validated ticket will be returned. Drivers may then proceed to any lane in the designated lots and insert their validated ticket in the machine to exit.


Travelers should also consider other travel options for arriving at that airport, including:

  • Carpooling
  • Catching a ride to the terminal
  • Taking a taxi
  • Riding the CATS Sprinter bus (Route 5 – Airport) or Airport Connector at Archdale and Northlake Park and Ride lots


Holiday travel tips:

  • View TSA’s travel tips.
  • Get dropped off at the Airport, carpool, ride CATS, or use one of the many taxi and ground transportation companies serving the Airport.
  • Visitors picking up family or friends are encouraged to park in the new Hourly Deck. It’s within walking distance to the terminal and the first hour is free.
  • Another option is to park in one of two free Cell Phone Lots located off Rental Car Road. Just wait in your vehicle and ask your passenger to contact you when they claim their luggage, then drive to either level of the terminal to pick them up.
  • Passengers can be picked up and dropped off along the terminal’s curbside, however, vehicles cannot be left unattended. Curbside parking is not allowed and unattended vehicles may be towed. This includes all lanes on the ticketing and baggage claim levels.
  • Check with your airline for updated flight information, as well as baggage size and weight rules. Additional fees could be applicable.


         Departing passenger pips:

  • Passengers are advised to arrive early for their flights. When traveling with young children, infants, elderly or disabled passengers, allow for even more time.
  • TSA security Checkpoints A and C will open at 4 a.m., followed by Checkpoints B and D opening at 5 a.m. and Checkpoint E at 6 a.m.
  • Checkpoint queue lines may be adjusted to accommodate the anticipated crowds. Pay close attention to signage directing you to the proper queue lines.
  • Save time by printing boarding passes at home.
  • Obtain specific information about Charlotte Douglas International Airport by visiting cltairport.com or by calling the Airport’s automated phone information line at 704.359.4910.
  • Contact your airline for updated flight information.


Follow CLT’s Twitter feed (@CLTAirport) for the most up-to-date parking tips, and visit parking.charlotteairport.com for a complete list of holiday parking and travel tips. For the latest Airport news, link to newsroom.cltairport.com.




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