Thanksgiving holiday travel, which kicks off this weekend at Charlotte Douglas International Airport, will be different for many passengers because of COVID-19 safety measures implemented for a safe travel experience.
Passenger numbers will be down next week, but CLT still expects it to be one of the busiest times of year in spite of the pandemic. The busiest days will be Tuesday, Nov. 24, Wednesday, Nov. 25 and Saturday, Nov. 28 with approximately 17,000 originating passengers each day and Sunday, Nov. 29 with 22,000 originating passengers. (Originating passengers are those who begin their travels at CLT, using parking facilities and security checkpoints.) Please note, that’s in addition to the approximately tens of thousands of connecting passengers CLT welcomes each day.
Last year, CLT averaged 33,000 to 38,000 daily originating passengers the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Saturday and Sunday after Thanksgiving. Another 100,000 plus (total enplaned and deplaned) flyers arrived daily for connecting flights in 2019.
As American Airlines’ second largest hub, Charlotte Douglas is busier than many other airports during the pandemic. To ensure a smooth traveling experience, passengers should plan ahead, be prepared and arrive early to check in and clear security. Recommended arrival times are two hours before a domestic flight and three hours if traveling internationally.
Key Information for Passengers
Face Coverings Are Required
Everyone is required to wear face coverings while in the terminal, parking lots/decks and on shuttle buses. All airlines operating at CLT require passengers to wear a mask as well. For anyone in need of a face covering, they are available for free at the security checkpoint podiums and at the Visitor Info Center on the terminal’s lower level.
Messaging and Signage – Keep it Rockin’
Keep it Rockin’ digital and free-standing signage is located throughout the terminal to remind passengers to wear a mask, social distance and wash their hands. CLT also has 60 hand sanitizing units dispersed in the concourses and Atrium. Passengers can bring one bottle of hand sanitizer up to 12 oz. that TSA will screen separately from their carry-on luggage.
Airport housekeeping is underway 24/7 with special attention given to places that are touched often. Tables, chairs, check-in kiosks, shuttle buses and hand rails on escalators and people movers are frequently sanitized. All the public areas of the terminal receive a nightly deep cleaning with an electrostatic spray and cleaning agents intended to combat the spread of COVID-19.
The Airport is using state-of-the-art technology, such as UV light, HEPA filtration and bipolar ionization, to capture and eliminate viruses and bacteria that can be harmful or lead to illness. Terminal air filters are rated MERV 13, which traps 98 to 99 percent of airborne particles as small as .3 microns and are commonly used in hospital settings. The Airport is seeking certification from an independent, global agency for its healthy building initiatives.
Clear protective shields have been installed next to shuttle bus drivers, at customer service counters, at parking toll booths, at airline ticket counters and in the security checkpoints. Floor markings remind passengers to social distance while standing in line. In the security checkpoints, CLT and the TSA have installed clear acrylic shields. The shields are at the document check podiums and areas where travelers prepare their carry-on for screening. At four of CLT’s five checkpoints, 112 protective panels create separation between passengers. Panels will be installed at Checkpoint E after its renovation is complete.
Drivers may use Curbside Valet ($35) or park in the Hourly Deck ($20 daily) or Long Term lots ($7 daily). Be sure to visit parking.charlotteairport.com to view CLT’s real-time parking map or call 704.359.5555 to hear the latest parking conditions.
Online booking also will be available for both the Hourly Deck and Long-Term Parking and will offer the best available pricing with discounted savings. Visit cltairport.com and select the “Book Parking” icon in the middle of the homepage to complete the quick four step process. Booking must be completed 12 hours in advance.
Drivers are encouraged to use the Hourly Deck for picking up and dropping off passengers. It’s steps from the terminal, helps alleviate traffic on the curbside and the first hour is free.
Check Out Security Wait Times
Be sure to visit CLT’s website (cltairport.com) 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. For current CLT Airport app users, dependent upon device settings, if the app does not automatically update, please update manually via the App Store or Google Play to enjoy this new feature.
The majority of CLT’s concessions are open, except for some bars. The Airport’s food and beverage concessionaire HMSHost will offer special menu items at Brookwood Farms BBQ (Atrium) and PZA (Concourse E) on Thanksgiving Day.
Just in time for the holidays, the Airport is introducing a new program called “CLT Local” highlighting businesses and products in the terminal that are original to the Carolinas, offering passengers a taste of the region. When you see the “CLT Local” seal, you know it’s a Carolina Original.
The “CLT Local” program makes it easy for passengers to experience and support local businesses without ever leaving the Airport.
Increased cleaning, social distancing, requiring employees to wear masks and offering prepackaged and touchless options are some techniques concessions are using to help customers feel more comfortable as they return to CLT.
For added protection, some restaurants have reorganized their ordering lines. Other concessions have adopted touchless technology for ordering and paying online. Menus are a QR code away, allowing passengers to order and pay online.
Stay in the Know
For more information, including frequently asked questions, visit cltairport.mediaroom.com/keep-it-rockin.