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Charlotte airport anticipates a busy holiday travel season

Travelers in a crowded airport terminal
Flickr/Creative Commons
Travelers at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

Holiday travel season is in full swing and airport officials said Wednesday that the next two weeks will be some of the year’s busiest.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport expects larger crowds for the remainder of December through Jan. 2.

Airport officials anticipate more than 71,000 passengers will come through the airport each day compared to its average of 66,000. The higher number of travelers means you may have to make changes to your normal plans, said Transportation Security Administration Regional Spokesperson Mark Howell.

"If you're planning to travel out of CLT or anywhere else this holiday season, we ask that you get to the airport two hours prior to your scheduled departure time, three hours if you're flying internationally. And when we say get to the airport, we ask you to be in the doors of the airport two hours ahead of time," said Howell.

Officials are also warning travelers to prepare for longer TSA lines during the peak days. The busiest three days will be Thursday, Dec. 22, Friday, Dec. 23, and Monday, Jan. 2.

The only slow days airport officials expect are Christmas Eve, Christmas and New Year's Eve.

You can view estimated wait times for each checkpoint at cltairport.com. And you can check ahead for the status of parking and to reserve spaces at parkclt.com. You might want to get on that early — officials expect the airport’s 21,000 spaces to fill quickly.

Howell also reminded passengers to make sure they don't inadvertently try to go through a security checkpoint with a firearm. That's a growing problem at Charlotte Douglas, where firearm seizures already set a record already this year. TSA has seized 115 firearms at checkpoints, up from last year's record haul of 106. Howell said the most common scenario is a gun owner who forgets they have a pistol in their carry-on bag. The pressure of holiday travel makes that problem worse.

"When you get into the rush of the holidays, it starts to get a little hectic, a little crazy," he said. "People start to forget things and they leave things in their bags."

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Kenny is a Maryland native who began his career in media as a sportswriter at Tuskegee University, covering SIAC sports working for the athletic department and as a sports correspondent for the Tuskegee Campus Digest. Following his time at Tuskegee, he was accepted to the NASCAR Diversity Internship Program as a Marketing Intern for The NASCAR Foundation in Daytona Beach, Florida in 2017.