CHARLOTTE, NC (FOX 46) - It's the most wonderful time of the year...and coincidentally the busiest!
Thousands across the country will hit the roads or the skies in order to reunite with friends and family this Thanksgiving.
Officials at Charlotte Douglas International Airport say they're expecting high passenger numbers as airlines report flight numbers will be near capacity. Keep in mind, CLT is already a busy airport, servicing 100,000 passengers a day on a normal day, let alone a holiday weekend.
This is where a little planning ahead can go a long way. Here's what you need to know if your travel plans take you through CLT:
TSA advises arriving two hours before a domestic flight and three hours traveling internationally.
Security Checkpoints A & B, along with American Airlines ticket counters and kiosks, are scheduled to open at 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and the Monday after Thanksgiving.
Checkpoint assistance agents will be stationed at the entrance of each checkpoint to assist travelers at the beginning of the screening process. As a reminder, passengers should check with their airlines for any weather-related questions that may affect their flight.
Parking will be in high demand Monday, November 21 – Monday, November 28 and will be available on a first come, first served basis. CLT has added over 700 parking spaces this year. Long Term parking typically reaches capacity first. Drivers are encouraged to use the Hourly Deck for picking up and dropping off passengers. Steps from the terminal, it is free for the first hour. All Long Term parking lots will be open for travelers.
Inside the Terminal, CLT offers free WiFi. Select the network “CLT Free WiFi” to be connected. Another amenity is the Mother’s Room. Located in the upper level of the Atrium, it provides a dedicated area for mothers who wish for more privacy to nurse their baby or pump breast milk away from the intrusion of the public.
To accommodate the high passenger volumes this Thanksgiving, CLT Airport plans to:
• Add more personnel to Airport shuttle bus and parking operations.
• Open some concessions at 4 a.m.
• Extend Uber & Lyft’s pickup areas further past Baggage Claim Zone D for arriving passengers.
In addition, TSA will open checkpoints A & B at 3:30 a.m. on Tuesday, Wednesday and the Monday after Thanksgiving. The remaining checkpoints will open at the regular times.
Passengers may plan their trip to the Airport by:
• Arriving to the Airport early.
• Visiting parking.charlotteairport.com and view CLT’s real-time parking map.
• Calling 704.359.5555 to hear the latest parking conditions.
• Slowing down and adhering to the signs when approaching the terminal.
• Paying attention to and following CLT’s dynamic roadway signs strategically located around Charlotte Douglas for information on which lots are open or full.
• Using the Pay&Go stations when leaving the terminal for a quicker exit. Four Pay&Go stations are located in the 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 the Airport, including:
• Catching a ride to the terminal
• Taking a taxi, ride share or other form of transportation.
• 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 at tsa.gov/travel/travel-tips
• For up-to-date parking conditions and prices, call 704.359.5555 or visit parking.charlotteairport.com.
• 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 Hourly Deck. It’s within walking distance to the terminal and the first hour is free.
• Another option is to park at the Cell Phone Lot next to Long Term 1. 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 Tips:
• 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 advises arriving at least two hours before your flight.
• TSA security Checkpoints A and B will open at 3:30 a.m. The remaining four checkpoints will open at the regular times. TSA Precheck lines at CLT are at Checkpoints B & D.
• Checkpoint lines may be adjusted to accommodate the anticipated crowds. Pay close attention to signage directing you to the proper 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 holiday travel tips, and visit parking.charlotteairport.com for real time parking information. For the latest Airport news, link to cltairport.com/news.
- One lane is closed with portable traffic signals on U.S. 264 in Hyde County near Long Shoal River bridge, which is being replaced;
- Eastbound U.S. 264 is closed with a detour near N.C. 99 in Beaufort County for a bridge replacement project;
- N.C. 24 has a closure from Mitchell Loop Road to U.S. 421/701 Bypass in Sampson County, where crews are widening the eastbound lane within the city of Clinton;
- In Brunswick County, a detour route is in place for Cedar Hill Road for a closure south of Royster Road NE while a bridge is being constructed, as well as other utility and road work related to the construction of I-140 between U.S. 74/76 (Andrew Jackson Highway) to Cedar Hill Road;
- N.C. 294 from Sunny Point Road to Upper Bear Paw Road in Cherokee County has a lane closure for a roadway realignment at Radford Road and Ware Road; and
- One lane of U.S. 74 in Jackson County is shut down between Sugar Loaf Road and Mount Pleasant Road for a bridge replacement.
Travelers also need to be aware that more than 200 local roads in the eastern part of the state are closed or have lane closures due to damage from Hurricane Matthew.
In the southwestern corner of the state, several forest fires could affect travel as smoky conditions may reduce visibility. Shifting fires and smoke could cause a road to be closed on short notice for safety reasons.
Drivers can get the latest update on travel conditions for the route they want to use or the area they will be traveling in by using the drop-down menus in the travel section of ncdot.gov. Once on the road, they can call 511 to get the same up-to-date information. From outside of North Carolina, call (877) 511-4662.
By avoiding traffic delays and planning ahead, motorists can reach their destinations safely and efficiently. Here are some additional tips for safe driving during the holiday season:
- Leave early to get a head start, and travel at non-peak hours if possible, as Wednesday afternoon/evening and Sunday afternoon/evening will be the heaviest traffic congestion periods;
- Stay alert;
- Be patient and obey the speed limit;
- Use your seat belt, as the annual Thanksgiving Click It or Ticket campaign is in effect Nov. 21-27;
- Use alternative routes to avoid traffic congestion;
- Allow extra time for your travels, regardless of the route you choose;
- To avoid drowsy driving, travel at times you are normally awake and take frequent breaks; and
- Avoid distracted driving.