Charlotte’s airport will be busy during Thanksgiving. Here’s how you can plan ahead.

Charlotte’s airport will be busy during Thanksgiving. Here’s how you can plan ahead.

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (LaVendrick Smith | The Charlotte Observer) - You should be prepared for crowds and limited parking if you're traveling through Charlotte's airport during Thanksgiving, as officials warn the airport will be busy.

A 3 percent increase in travelers from last year's holiday season is anticipated for Charlotte Douglas International Airport in the days leading up to and following the holiday. That adds up to about 30,000 to 32,000 local travelers at the airport on the Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving. (The airport typically has 25,000 to 26,000 passengers each day.)

The number of travelers will be comparable to summer months, when the airport averaged about 31,000 passengers on peak days. However, officials anticipate more families that don't normally travel during the year, according to Jack Christine, chief operating officer at Charlotte Douglas.

"We have travelers that aren't as used to the process," Christine said.

To prepare, Christine advises people to arrive at the airport well in advance of their flights. Travelers should show up at least two hours before domestic flights and three hours ahead for international flights, he said.

People should also prepare for limited parking, with the increase of travelers. You can check available parking on the airport's website at

But he also encouraged people to use other transportation to the airport if possible, including shuttles, taxis and ride-sharing apps.

Even with the additional traffic, airport officials hope wait times at security checkpoints won't be longer than 30 minutes. The Tuesday and Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday and Monday after the holiday are predicted to be the peak days of travel, officials said.

To better help you prepare, here are a few tips to keep in mind:

  • Check your flight status: Before leaving for the airport, officials ask that travelers check with their airline for any delays or cancellations. Passengers should also check the weather in their destination city to prepare in advance.
  • Check TSA’s website: The Transportation Security Administration has a list of items that are prohibited past airport security at Officials with TSA advise travelers to double check prohibited items before going to the airport, as permitted objects might have changed. For example, passengers now have to remove any electronic item larger than a 4-by-6 inch cellphone.
  • Don’t bring guns to the airport: It sounds like common knowledge, but TSA has found 56 guns in bags so far this year. Most people are unaware they have a firearm when it’s detected, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police. However, not knowing you have a gun will not work as an excuse if one is found in your bag. Police ask that travelers to check their bags for handguns before going through airport security.
  • Hourly parking is a great option if you’re picking someone up: Parking in Charlotte Douglas’ hourly parking deck is free for the first hour. This gives you enough time to find loved ones in the airport, without having to circle the terminal while relatives locate their luggage.
  • The cellphone lot is another option if you’re picking someone up: Don’t feel like going into the airport to greet your arriving loved ones? The airport has a cellphone lot where you can wait for them. The cell phone lot is relocating Saturday, and will give drivers direct access to the terminal, with 150 parking spaces.