Expect longer security wait times at Charlotte’s airport this summer

Expect longer security wait times at Charlotte’s airport this summer

Rendering courtesy of Charlotte Douglas International Airport

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Security wait times are about to get longer at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

What’s happening: The airport will close checkpoint B for renovations on March 17 for part of the fourth phase of its five-year $608 million Terminal Lobby Expansion project. The goal is to have that checkpoint’s renovations finished by the holidays.

Why it matters: Security lines will be longer, particularly during summer months. But checkpoint upgrades will ultimately help improve the airport experience, officials say.

  • “We’re losing four lanes and we’re gonna lose them over a whole summer period, which is our peak time,” Jack Christine, chief infrastructure officer for the airport, said during a media preview of the construction on Thursday.

By the numbers: Wait times will increase from 10-20 minutes to 35-45 minutes during peak summer travel season.

  • You should arrive at least two hours early, Christine said.
  • You can also use the airport’s app to see what security wait times are at each checkpoint.

Details: Charlotte’s checkpoints are currently A-E  but they’ll be consolidated into three checkpoints. They will be larger with updated technology, once the Terminal Lobby Expansion project is complete.

Checkpoints A and B will become checkpoint 1 and checkpoints C and D will become checkpoint 2. Checkpoint E, which has already been renovated, will become checkpoint 3.

  • Checkpoint E is your best bet to avoid lines, as Axios’ Emma Way wrote in our airport guide. It’s worth getting a few extra steps in.
  • Or you can opt for TSA Precheck, which Christine recommends. It’s $78 for a five-year membership. You can find TSA Precheck at checkpoint C.

About 35% of local passengers use TSA Precheck, Christine said, adding that getting that figure to 40% would have a significant impact on how they manage traffic through the summer.

Zoom out: Phase four, the current phase, also includes moving ticket counters for Delta, Air Canada, JetBlue, Contour, Frontier, Southwest and United Airlines forward in the coming weeks.

What’s next: Phase five will include closing checkpoints C and D to consolidate them into checkpoint 2 after the holidays. The airport will have adequate capacity at that point to handle the passenger loads with the addition of checkpoint 1, Christine said.

  • “This is the tough part,” Christine said of closing checkpoint B.

Flashback: Phase two of the project opened in July, giving airport visitors access to the first section of the airport’s expanded terminal lobby. The Terminal Lobby Expansion project began in fall 2019 and is scheduled to finish in spring 2025.

Of note: Phase three, which started over the summer, is ongoing. It’s the final phase of new construction.

  • Once complete, phase three will open the lobby from one end to the other. Sky bridges will connect the fifth floor of the nearby parking deck to the mezzanine level of the lobby expansion. CLT officials expect to open the latter half of the building up this fall.
  • The outdoor canopy, which crews work on at night, closing the road around 10pm, is scheduled to be finished in late 2024. The first sky bridge should open this fall.
Construction on the airport

330 employees are working on the Terminal Lobby Expansion project daily. Photo: Ashley Mahoney/Axios

Go deeper: Definitive guide to CLT Airport — Where to eat, how to kill time and skip lines

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