Holiday Travel Ushers In Passengers

Dec. 17. 2021 - Passenger traffic is expected to rise over the next two weeks at Charlotte Douglas International Airport as holiday travel gets underway.

More than 1.4 million passengers will fly out of CLT between today (Friday, Dec. 17) and Friday, Jan. 7, 2022. That’s near pre-pandemic numbers, which saw 1.6 million departing passengers during that same period. CLT’s passenger counts have returned to approximately 85% of 2019 numbers, which was a record-breaking year for the Airport. 

Departing Passenger Counts

Dec. 17, 2021 – Jan. 7, 2022

1.4 million 

Dec. 17, 2020 – Jan. 7, 2021

Dec. 17, 2019 – Jan. 7, 2020 
1.6 million 

The following days will be the busiest with approximately 66,000 to 70,000 daily passengers expected to depart CLT:

  • Friday, Dec. 17
  • Sunday, Dec. 19 to Thursday, Dec. 23
  • Sunday, Dec. 26 to Thursday, Dec. 30 
  • Sunday, Jan. 2 to Monday, Jan. 3
  • Thursday, Jan. 6 to Friday, Jan. 7

For comparison, the busiest days in December 2019 welcomed 75,000 to 80,000 departing passengers. In December 2020, the largest departing holiday customers peaked between 50,000 and 54,000 daily departing CLT customers.

Christmas is the second busiest time of the year for Charlotte Douglas International Airport preceded by Thanksgiving. The two holidays differ, however, because Christmas and New Year’s travel is spread over more days.

But like Thanksgiving, flyers should prepare for long lines, allow extra time for TSA check-in and security screening and arrive at the Airport at least two hours before their scheduled departure time for domestic flights and three hours before international travel.

Parking will be in high demand Sunday, Dec. 19 through Monday, Jan. 3, and available on a first-come, first-served basis. For the best rates, book online at or through CLT’s app. All parking reservations must be made 12 hours in advance. Drive-up and valet parking are available. Please check parking availability on the CLT real-time parking map or call 704.359.5555 for the latest parking conditions. Drivers are encouraged to use the Hourly Deck for picking up and dropping off passengers. The first hour is free. The Cell Phone Lot is another option for picking up family and friends.

As a reminder due to ongoing Terminal Lobby Expansion construction, the center door and Doors 1 and 5 on the Ticketing level are open as well as the center door and Door 1 in Baggage Claim. Passengers are asked to pay close attention to signage that will help guide them around construction.


Remember Your Mask: Wearing a mask is required in the terminal, parking lots/decks and on shuttle buses. All airlines at CLT also require masks, which are available at security checkpoint podiums and the Visitor Info Center in Baggage Claim.

Pack Presents Properly: View TSA’s tips for flying with holiday gifts.

Check Security Wait Times: Be sure to visit CLT’s website ( or app (download at the App Store or on Google Play) to see estimated wait times at each checkpoint, including Standard and TSA Pre-Check lines. Don’t forget to refresh electronic devices for the latest security wait times.

Hidden Disabilities Sunflower Program Available: CLT has partnered with the Hidden Disabilities Sunflower organization to provide passengers with hidden disabilities such as autism, chronic pain, anxiety, visual/hearing impairment, and dementia, the opportunity to discretely get additional support, which can include time, help and understanding. Passengers can wear their own Hidden Disabilities sunflower items or can pick them up before and after security at the Airport Services Desk (Ticketing), Visitor Info Center (Baggage Claim), USO Lounge (Atrium-Mezzanine Level) and the Airport Chapel (Atrium – Mezzanine Level).

Stay Connected With CLT: Follow @CLTairport on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

Get the App: Download the free, all-in-one CLT Airport app at the App Store or on Google Play