CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Airport officials at Charlotte Douglas International Airport say Memorial Day weekend 2022 is jumpstarting what is expected to be a very busy summer travel season.
Jack Christine, chief operating officer at Charlotte Douglas, said volume is almost back to pre-pandemic levels. During Memorial Day weekend in 2019, Charlotte saw a peak of nearly 34,000 passengers. This year won't quite hit that number, but it's close.
"In addition to those 31,000 boarding passengers locally, we'll also have about 100,000 passengers connecting through the main terminal," Christine said.
Russ Fortson, the managing director of customer care at Charlotte for American Airlines, said the company hired 12,000 new employees, including 800 new pilots, last year. Those hirings were all made in preparation for a busy 2022 summer travel season.
Airport officials released some important tips Thursday for passengers to follow in order to have the smoothest experience possible. It all starts at home and how you pack your luggage.
Mark Howell, a regional spokesperson for TSA, said it's important to know the rules for a carry-on bag and to not bring something that isn't allowed.
"That will slow things down at security checkpoints when we have to do lots of bag searches, or have to rescreen passengers because they brought a prohibited item to the checkpoint," Howell said.
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He said one way to avoid inadvertently carrying a prohibited item is to start with an empty bag. That way you aren't throwing your belongings onto something that isn't allowed through the gate.
With more volume, there is an increased demand in parking.
"We will have times when parking facilities will be closed because we have reached capacity," Christine said. "Whether that be a mix of online booking and drive-up customers."
Travelers can book official airport parking online or on the Charlotte Douglas app. Checking out at the lot is a contactless transaction and you will need a credit card. The CLT Airport app has real-time parking availability with approximate wait times for specific security lines.
They recommend getting to the airport two hours before a scheduled domestic departure and three hours for an international flight. That does not include additional tasks like parking or returning a rental car.
"Make sure you get into the doors two hours prior to departure to give yourselves time to get through that travel process," Howell said.
As a reminder, the federal mandate for masks has been rescinded. Officials also ask all travelers to be patient and courteous when flying.
In the event you have time to spare once you check in and get through security, CLT features plenty of new amenities including a gaming center.