Charlotte Douglas International Airport is expecting this Thanksgiving holiday to be one of its busiest yet, with 900,000 local and connecting passengers boarding planes.
Record-breaking crowds are expected at the world’s fifth busiest airport, starting Thursday and continuing through Nov. 27, airport leaders said during a news conference Thursday. The forecast for the 12-day period is expected to be an increase of 9% above 2019 levels and 14% above last year.
Jerome Woodard, chief operating officer, encouraged travelers to prepare before they come to the airport. Here are some things to know.
What are the busiest days?
The airport’s busiest days will be Sunday, Nov. 26; Monday, Nov. 27; Friday, Nov. 17; Wednesday, Nov. 22; and Saturday, Nov. 25.
Total annual passenger traffic to date this year has passed record-breaking 2019 by 6%, while local passenger traffic has bested 2019 by 12%, officials said.
Book early, arrive early
Passengers are encouraged to book parking online at parkCLT.com, and to be at the airport at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight.
For rush hour periods, travelers are asked to consider adding more time to their commute to the airport.
Going through security at CLT
It’s the busiest time of the year at security checkpoints, said Mark Howell, a spokesman for the Transportation Security Administration. TSA is expecting 30 million passengers to go through security screenings nationwide.
“It’s kind of our Superbowl,” Howell said.
The wait times at security check points are expected to reach up to 45 minutes.
Howell asked passengers to pack from an empty bag, start from scratch, and to make sure they’re not adding prohibited items. “It slows down the process and slows down the screening process,” he added.
Lt. Will Farrell, of the transportation division for the Charlotte Mecklenburg Police Department said 107 firearms were discovered at CLT checkpoints this year from people who didn’t realize the weapons were in bags.
TSA Checkpoint 1 opened Nov. 5 and features eight screening, including six automated screening lanes. This led to the closing of Checkpoint D. Standard lanes are at Checkpoints 1, A and E. TSA PreCheck is at Checkpoint C.
Any checkpoint can provide gate entry.
No other changes are expected for the security screening process until after the holiday travel season. By early 2025, the airport is planning to consolidate five security checkpoints into three.
For more information about holiday travel, visit www.cltairport.com