June 30, 2021 - You’ve heard it on the news – travel has really picked up since the early days of the pandemic. That has many CLT businesses between a rock and a hard place as they address staffing shortages while trying to hire for many open positions with the TSA, concessions, airlines, and other Airport businesses.
At the same time, business travel has decreased, leisure travel has skyrocketed. For many people, this is the first time they have traveled. For others, it is the first time in a long time that they have traveled. Much is the same when it comes to travel preparedness and the Airport journey, but much has changed in the last year.
So, as you get ready to shake off quarantine and board a plane to that dream destination or to see family and friends, there are some things you can do to prepare and to make your Airport experience easy and effortless.
First: PLAN AHEAD.
We cannot say this enough. This is essential BEFORE you come to the Airport.
- We know you know this so let’s get it out of the way first. Don’t forget to check on the COVID-19 protocols all passengers and Airport visitors are expected to follow. This includes wearing a mask per federal mandate while in the Airport. Airlines require them too. If you forget yours, ask for one at the TSA checkpoint podiums or at the Visitor Info Center in Baggage Claim. More information about CLT’s response to COVID is on our website.
- Check your flight status on your airline’s app. Then, download your boarding pass on your mobile device, or if you are still using paper, print it out at home.
- Check the security wait times on cltairport.com or on the CLT Airport app. It’s free to download in the Apple Store or Google Play. Remember you can use any security checkpoint in the terminal. You don’t have to go through Checkpoint E because you are flying out of Concourse E. It might be a little farther to walk, but if the line is shorter at Checkpoint B, why not get in line there? It’s faster, and you will be closer to the Chick-fil-A right outside Checkpoint B. You can grab a meal and a drink then head for seating in the Atrium or at your gate. Real-time wait times change frequently so check the app and website often before and after you get here.
- It helps the checkpoint lines move faster if you check your baggage with your airline, rather than carry it onto the plane. Speaking of baggage, if you are going to carry on, make sure there is nothing in your luggage that would cause alarms to go off in security. When that happens, it slows down the screening process for everyone while your bags are inspected for prohibited items. Weapons, including guns that you may have a concealed weapon permit for, are prohibited in the Airport and onboard your aircraft. “I forgot it was in there” doesn’t absolve you of possible fines and other penalties, including jail time. TSA has a handy app to check what else is and is not allowed on a flight.
- Book your parking online. You are guaranteed a parking spot and can save money over drive-up rates. Look for the online booking at cltairport.com/parking. Rates are increasing July 6 for drive-up customers so that’s even more reason to book ahead of time.
- If you are arriving in Charlotte and need a rental car, book ahead. Some companies are experiencing ground transportation shortages right now too.
Second: ARRIVE EARLY
This means arrive early AT THE TERMINAL. Not the parking lot or shuttle bus stop. Inside the terminal checking in and getting in line for security.
Given how busy it is and the accommodations being made to adjust for staffing shortages, the airlines and TSA strongly recommend you arrive three hours before your flight’s scheduled departure. Keep in mind:
- Even if the security wait time app says wait times are short at the checkpoints, don’t chance it. Leave home early. A lot can happen in the time it takes you to drive to the Airport, park and check in.
- Weekend travel, beginning on Thursdays going through Sunday, is always the busiest time. If there is a holiday, count on it being even busier.
Third: Shop, dine and relax
Once you are through security, there’s plenty to do to keep busy while you wait for your flight to leave.
- Get your steps in – a walk through the entire terminal is about three miles. At a brisk pace that’s about 5,781 steps.
- While walking, take time to enjoy the artwork located throughout the terminal. Many are creations from North Carolina artists.
- If you can snag a rocking chair in the Atrium or the mezzanine overlooking the Atrium, take advantage of it then kick back, relax and rock the minutes away. You can people-watch or gaze out the two-story windows at the planes parked outside.
- Hungry? Ran out of your own snacks (yes, many foods are allowed through the checkpoint)? CLT has many great places to eat. Several restaurants and stores are open for limited hours while they try to hire more people. If you must walk to another concourse to find something, please understand our concessions are working as quickly as possible to hire, train, do background checks (required for everyone who works at CLT) and fully reopen. We regret many of the lines are long right now, but our partners are glad to see you. We appreciate your patience and support.
Pack your patience.
Like you, the people working at the Airport are dealing with the pandemic too. The Airport workers encounter thousands of customers every day. Each has a different need or concern. Sometimes nerves get frayed. Stress and tensions rise. Anger or frustration comes out. Take a deep breath. Remember, CLT workers are here and committed to helping make the travel experience better.
Please be kind to them.