Over 1M travelers expected at Charlotte airport over Memorial Day. Be prepared for lines.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport is expecting to break summer travel records as passengers board planes for Memorial Day weekend — the unofficial start to the season.

More than 1.05 million passengers are predicted to come through the airport for arriving and departing flights during the holiday period,airport officials announced during a news conference Tuesday. The Memorial Day travel period for the airport starts Thursday and ends on Tuesday.

The estimate is a 21% increase (220,500 more passengers) from last year for the Memorial Day period.

Peak days this year will be Thursday and Friday, with both days forecasted to have between 94,000 and 100,000 passengers flying out of the airport. That’ll account for a lot of traffic at the Charlotte airport in and around the holiday.

The summer travel season is starting a little earlier this year because some schools get out earlier and changes in travel trends, said Jerome Woodard, the airport’s chief operating officer.

Charlotte Douglas set a new record spring break record on Thursday, March 28 with 43,813 passengers going through Transportation Security Administration checkpoints. Friday, March 29 was second with 42,529 people. Both totals passed the Aug. 1, 2019, which had more than 41,000 passengers.

It’s anticipated that the record could be broken again in the weeks ahead, Woodard said.

In May, the airport’s average number of daily TSA screenings is more than 36,000. On average this is about 5,000 more daily screenings than in May 2023.

TSA is expecting to screen nearly 3 million passengers nationwide, with 43,000 coming through CLT airport on Friday — the busiest day of the Memorial Day weekend, according to Andrew Small, TSA supervisory analyst.

CLT airport is ranked as the seventh-busiest airport worldwide for arrivals and departures, according to the Airport Council International’s preliminary rankings for 2022.

Passengers at Charlotte Douglas Airport. The airport expects to see record travel over the summer
Passengers at Charlotte Douglas Airport. The airport expects to see record travel over the summer

American Airlines preps for busy summer

Charlotte Douglas is the second-largest hub for American Airlines, and accounts for about 90% of all flights at the airport.

American is expecting to operate more than 4,000 flights and provide service for more than 445,000 customers in Charlotte during the Memorial Day weekend, according to Russ Fortson, managing director of CLT customer care. That’s about 20% (89,000 people) more than the same period last year.

The Fort Worth, Texas-based company is expecting to serve more than 8 million passengers in Charlotte between May 17 and Sept. 3 on about 75,000 flights. This is a 12% increase compared to last summer and will surpass pre-pandemic levels of flying, according to the airline.

American is planning to operate 690 peak-day departures from its Charlotte hub. The airline is operating its largest schedule ever, Fortson said. More than 15,000 local employees will be involved.

To help speed up the check-in process, American added new kiosks throughout the lobby, Fortson added. As works on a terminal lobby expansion continues, a second bag drop was added to help flow during peak periods.

Arriving on time at CLT

As they always do, airport officials encourage passengers to add extra time to their schedule to avoid traffic problems, while also looking at conditions on the roads.

Passengers should arrive at the terminal at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight, officials said.

Estimated wait times for security checkpoints are available on the airport’s website and through the app. They also are asking customers to book parking in advance online at parkCLT.com.