Best seat in the house: Rocking chairs create a sense of place

Sept. 20, 2019 - It’s the most popular and most sought-after seat in the house.  No, it’s not the one near a charging outlet. This seat has the rhythmic power to calm even the most harried traveler’s nerves.

When you sit, you rock. When you rock, you can’t help but relax.

Rocking chairs have been creating a sense of place at Charlotte Douglas International Airport since 1997. CLT is credited with starting a rocking chair craze that has been copied by hundreds of airports around the world.

It all began here with a photography exhibit called “Porch Sitting: A Charlotte Regional Family Album.” In front of oversized images of front porches sat real rocking chairs. Intended as props, people sat in them instead - to eat, work, read and people watch.

When the exhibit packed up, so did the rocking chairs. 

Haley Gentry, chief business and innovation officer, managed CLT passenger amenities at the time. “We didn’t realize how popular they were 'til we went to remove the exhibit,” she said in an interview with The Verge in 2014. “We went to remove the rocking chairs and we got such a public outcry that we said, ‘Wow, we need to keep these here,’ and we expanded them."

Today more than 100 rocking chairs are located across the CLT terminal – from the Atrium where the hustle and bustle of the passenger flow is on full display to a quiet nook on the new Concourse A where the view showcases the ebb and flow of arriving and departing aircraft.  People like the chairs so much, it’s not unusual to find the rockers have been moved to suit a passenger’s desired view through the expansive terminal windows.  

CLT’s rocking chairs come exclusively from Troutman Chair Co., just a hop, skip and a jump from Charlotte to Troutman, N.C.

The story goes that owners Jean and Champ Land traveled through the Airport regularly. They sat in some of the early rockers and found them uncomfortable. Champ called CLT with the guarantee that his rockers were far more comfortable. The rest is history.

In their featured location in the Airport Atrium, the rockers have transformed a fast-paced hub into a tree-lined avenue with a front porch. The now signature white rocking chair exudes a special sense of place for the millions of passengers we get to welcome to Charlotte each year.

Insider's Tip. We know it can be tough to find an empty rocker, so here's our Insider Tip. If you have the time, stroll to Concourse A and head toward gate A21. Before you get to the people mover there is a large seating area on the left that overlooks the ramp. It’s a little off-the-beaten-path, but you are more likely to find a free chair there and a respite from the bustle of the Airport.


Sources: CLT archives, Troutman Chair Co., The Verge, Our State