Spring break travel tips for passengers departing Charlotte Douglas International Airport

Local Press Release
Wednesday, March 27, 2024

CHARLOTTE – The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) anticipates a busy spring break travel season for travelers departing Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT).

According to CLT officials, local school districts will dismiss for an eight-day recess starting Thursday, March 28. Forecasts show passenger volumes 15% higher from last year with the busiest travel days on Thursday, March 28, Friday, March 29, and Monday, April 1.

On those three days, TSA expects to screen a total of more than 124,000 departing travelers through security checkpoints at CLT, so travelers should give themselves plenty of time to account for traffic, parking, rental car returns, airline check-in, and security screening.

“TSA Charlotte is well prepared for the Spring Break period and is anticipating record passenger screened volumes on Thursday, March 28 and Friday, March 29,” said Beth Walker, TSA’s Federal Security Director for Charlotte Douglas International Airport. “Please arrive in the airport terminal at least 2 hours ahead of your flight and ensure you have double-checked the contents of your carry-on bags before you leave for the airport.”

CLT officials also recommend travelers arrive at the Airport and be inside the terminal at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight.

TSA strives to get travelers through the general security screening process in less than 30 minutes and through TSA PreCheck® screening in less than 10 minutes. Ninety-nine percent of TSA PreCheck passengers nationwide waited less than five minutes to be screened. Another advantage of TSA PreCheck is children 17 and under are eligible to be screened with a TSA PreCheck-eligible parent or guardian on the same itinerary.

Travel advice
TSA continues to ask travelers to arrive early and prepared for the screening experience to allow for timely completion of every step of the travel process. To help things go smoothly, please follow these tips:

Ask TSA before you travel. Contact TSA over social media by sending a message to @AskTSA on X or Facebook Messenger. Passengers may also send a text directly to 275-872 (“AskTSA”) on any mobile device. An automated virtual assistant is available 24/7 to answer commonly asked questions, and AskTSA staff are available 365 days a year from 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. ET for more complicated questions. Travelers may also reach the TSA Contact Center at 866-289-9673 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. ET on weekdays and 9 a.m. to 8 p.m. ET on weekends/holidays. An automated service is available 24/7.

Pack smart and remember the 3-1-1 rule. Make sure to start with an empty bag to avoid packing any prohibited items. If you’re heading to the beach, you may wonder how to pack your sunscreen. Any liquids, sunscreen containers and alcohol over 3.4 ounces must be packed in a checked bag. Liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes are allowed in carry-on bags as long as each item is 3.4 ounces or less and placed in one quart-sized bag. Each passenger is limited to one quart-size bag of liquids, aerosols, gels, creams and pastes.

Call ahead to request passenger support. Travelers or families of passengers with disabilities and/or medical conditions may call the TSA Cares helpline toll-free at 855-787-2227 with any questions about screening procedures and to find out what to expect at the security checkpoint. If you call at least 72 hours prior to travel, TSA Cares also arranges assistance at the checkpoint for travelers with specific needs. For more information, visit the TSA Cares website.

Arrive early and please be patient. Spring break travelers should give themselves plenty of time to account for traffic, parking, rental car returns, airline check-in, security screening and making any airport purchases before boarding a flight. The airport environment can be stressful. Remain patient, and remember everyone around you is also on their own journey. Passengers who engage in unruly behavior at the checkpoint, the gate area or inflight may face substantial penalties and possible prosecution on criminal charges.

Be checkpoint ready and bring a valid ID. Arrive at the checkpoint with a mobile or printed boarding pass and readily available valid ID. Listen closely to and follow instructions from TSA officers for guidance through the screening process. At many checkpoints, you may be asked to insert your physical ID into one of our Credential Authentication Technology (CAT) units, where a boarding pass is not needed. Nearly 30 airports have a second generation of CAT, called CAT-2, which adds a camera with optional facial recognition technology and smartphone reader. This technology better detects fraudulent IDs. Passengers who do not want their photos taken may ask the TSA officer for a manual ID check without losing their place in line. For more information on how TSA is using facial recognition technology, see our TSA Facial Recognition Technology Fact Sheet. Starting May 7, 2025, every air traveler 18 years of age and older must have a REAL ID-compliant driver’s license or another acceptable form of ID to fly within the United States. 2024 is a good time to get your REAL ID. Contact your state DMV for more information.

Enroll in TSA PreCheck®. Enjoy the benefits of faster checkpoint screening with a TSA PreCheck membership. Traveling with kids? Teenagers aged 17 and under may accompany TSA PreCheck-enrolled parents or guardians through TSA PreCheck screening lanes when traveling on the same reservation and when the TSA PreCheck indicator appears on the teen’s boarding pass. Children 12 and under may still accompany an enrolled parent or guardian through the TSA PreCheck lanes any time, without restriction. Most new enrollees receive a Known Traveler Number (KTN) within five days, and membership lasts for five years. TSA PreCheck starts at $78 for a five-year membership. That’s about $15.60 per year. Online renewals are $70. Don’t delay. Enroll in TSA PreCheck today.

Remember…unloaded firearms must be packed in a locked, hard-sided case in checked baggage only and must be declared to the airline. Travelers who bring firearms or other weapons to the security checkpoint face consequences. To avoid delays, passengers should search TSA’s “What Can I Bring?” webpage.

TSA encourages all passengers to remain vigilant. If You See Something. Say Something®. Those traveling abroad for spring break should check the U.S. Customs and Border Protection Know Before You Go page to learn about required documentation.

For more information on airport security screening, visit tsa.gov.