• Charlotte Douglas Airport's $39M east terminal expansion opens Friday

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    CHARLOTTE, N.C. - A new report ranking the best and worst airports in the country shows Charlotte Douglas Airport slipping a bit.

    [ALSO READ: Next phase of Charlotte Douglas Airport expansion gets green light]

    Charlotte Douglas fell three spots in the Wall Street Journal's rankings of best and worst airports. This year, the paper said our airport is the 11th best, falling three sports from last year. 

    Travelers are dealing with construction everywhere you look at the airport, but one of the projects, the expansion of the east terminal, opened to passengers Friday. 

    The project cost $39 million, is a 3-story addition to the airport and is just one piece to a huge renovation at Charlotte Douglas. 

    The east terminal includes what the airport calls "The Plaza," which includes several new restaurants such as Shake Shack, Bojangles' and a Wicked Weed Brewing. 

    "This is really what we think is a modern but still comfortable feeling," said, Brent Cagle, the aviation director at Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

    Airport leaders said the rest of the airport will mirror the design of the new space.

    "A lot of natural lighting, terrazzo flooring, more and more power," Cagle said.

    But despite the multi billion-dollar effort to improve the airport, Charlotte Douglas ranked last among the 20 largest airports in terms of value, with the average plane ticket running nearly $432.

    Travelers help fund the renovation work in the form of passenger facility charges already included in an airline ticket price.

    Other funding comes from airline and vendor fees the airport collects. The goal is to use that money to improve the traveling experience.

    "We want to keep climbing up that ranking list," Cagle said.

    Next month, the airport is scheduled to begin a $600 million project to rebuild the terminal lobby, including automated screening lanes to speed up security. 

    The nonstop construction at the airport all started under the Destination Charlotte Capital Investment Plan, totaling more than $3 billion to redo the airport. It's set to cover the next seven years of construction projects.

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