Keep it Rockin’ – Yes, it’s possible to social distance here


It’s hard to social distance anywhere. But in a busy, crowded airport it can feel impossible. You have told us as much. We’ve seen it and experienced it too. We have come up with some tips on how to social distance when flying in or out or connecting through Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Take up space.

Before COVID-19, it was considered polite to take up as little space as possible when flying. Keep your carry-on bag close to you. Hold your handbag or backpack so the seat next to you is available for another passenger. On your flight, pick one armrest and leave the other for the person next to you.

We know it’s tight in some places in the terminal, the boarding areas especially. Airlines have consolidated flights. Multiple flights board and leave at about the same time. That can make the Airport feel crowded, even though fewer people are traveling than in the past.

Since we all are supposed to stay 6 feet apart, we now suggest you take up space:

  • If able, put your backpack or carry on in front of or in the seat next to you. For reference, two seats between you and the next person is 5 feet. Three seats equal 7 feet.
  • While sitting, stretch your legs out in front of you. Please don’t block a walking path or pose a trip hazard, especially if it’s crowded. The idea is to take up more room than you normally would to create space.
  • Stand or walk with your carry on stretched in front of or behind you. Using your luggage as a shield adds space and will help signal to others to keep their distance.
  • Walk. Yes, get your steps in while you are in the terminal. If you are moving, people will naturally move out of the way or you can move around the crowds.

Because social distancing can be tricky, always wear a face covering for added protection. A June executive order from the North Carolina governor means everyone is required to wear a face mask in the Airport. Your airline already requires you to have one on when you enter the terminal and during your flight.

Be last, not first.

Happens all the time. The airline announces that families with children and those who need extra time can begin boarding and the rest of us rush to line up. It’s going to be 15 minutes or more before we can get on board, but by golly, we are getting in line.

Rather than rush to stand in line (next to someone who might be standing too close), wait. Let others board first while you stand back from the crowd. Sit or stand in adjacent or vacant boarding areas while you wait. Look for quiet spots out of the way, sit or stand and take up space.  Your flight won’t leave without you. Just stay close enough to monitor the line to board.

Look for a quiet spot to hang out.

We know we told you the Airport is busy and crowded but there are places you are likely to find quiet and space. Here are our suggestions:

  • The mezzanine above the Atrium and Food Court has rocking chairs and benches. It can be busy but there is often room to spread out.
  • The second story in the new A Concourse Expansion. It’s rarely busy, and you can grab a Starbucks while you are up there. It overlooks the boarding area so it’s easy to see when the crowds have dissipated.
  • The nook along new A Concourse walkway is a large open space that also overlooks the ramp where aircraft park.
  • Explore the more than 80 open concessions. If you are moving, it’s easier to create space for yourself.
  • You and your traveling companions can visit the selfie stations outside 1897 Market near the entrance to Concourse B (Charlotte Postcard) and in the seating nook along the hallway to Gates A 21-29.

Pack a snack.

Frugal travelers have been bringing food through airport checkpoints for years.

You can avoid lines if you bring you own snacks. Food can be brought through the security checkpoint, though, in most cases, it must be screened separately from your luggage. Liquids in excess of 3.4 ounces are still prohibited, but an empty water bottle is allowed. Fill it at a touchless hydration station on the other side.  

Now, of course, we want you to support the Airport concessions. Many are small, local businesses working hard to recover from the pandemic’s impact. But if the thought of standing in line for something to eat is a little too much to bear right now because of COVID, bring something with you. We want your business, but we also want you to feel safe and confident in your decision to fly.

Not sure what is allowed through the checkpoint, check out the What Can I Bring? feature at TSA.gov