CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Almost 50 million Americans will be taking to the roads and skies this Thanksgiving holiday, according to the latest numbers from AAA, an increase of 1 million passengers compared with last year.
At Charlotte-Douglas International Airport, officials announced Monday they too expect somewhere between a 2- and 4-percent increase in the number of travelers this holiday.
“We want to encourage passengers to definitely plan ahead, be prepared and arrive early at the airport,” said Jack Christine, Deputy Aviation Director.
Christine says airport officials are expecting holiday travel to pick up Tuesday, with an estimated 27,810 passengers beginning their trip at CLT-Douglas and more than 25,000 arriving. The busiest days for travel though will be Wednesday and Sunday. Officials estimate they’ll see more 28,000 passengers departing each day.
To keep up with the influx, airport officials say they’ve added additional staff, will run additional buses to and from the parking lots and will have additional traffic officers.
Kevin Frederick, the airport’s federal security director, says they’ve added two K-9 units and have hired 35 new TSA officers.
“To the point where we'll have plenty of people here to handle the crowds,” said Frederick.
Since last year, CLT-Douglas has added 700 additional parking spaces, but officials say this holiday, even parking will be at a premium.
“We anticipate that a lot of the lots will close as they fill,” said Christine, who encouraged travelers to use a rideshare or carpool whenever possible.
CMPD says they’ll also have additional officers on-hand and are reminding fliers to leave their guns at home unless checked in a TSA approved case and are declared with your airline. Already this year, CMPD says they’ve seized 52 guns from security checkpoints, up from 39 last year.
“Basically it’s just not being a responsible gun owner. If you don’t know where your gun is and you think it’s at home and it’s in a bag when you bring it to the checkpoint, you're going to jail,” said Captain Greg Collins with CMPD.
Monday, roughly 60 million Americans were under a winter weather advisory after a snowstorm dumped 20 inches of snow on parts of the Northeast. As of Monday evening, Charlotte-Douglas was not experiencing any major delays getting into airports like Boston’s Logan or Chicago O’Hare, but flights to New York’s JFK and LaGaurdia were each experiencing delays up to an hour.
American Airlines, which operates 90-percent of Charlotte-Douglas’ flights in and out, advises passengers to check their flight’s status before heading to the airport.
“Even if the weather is great here, there may be weather in your destination city or somewhere along the route-- so, keep that in mind,” said Katie Cody, Spokesperson for American Airlines.
In addition to arriving two to three hours early for your flight, travel experts say there are now smartphone applications that can help you save time. For example, travel experts say it saves time to print your boarding pass at home or upload it to your smartphone.
For parking at Charlotte-Douglas, just visit parking.charlotteairport.com for real-time parking maps or call (704) 359-5555.