CLT flyer says lines at TSA are “worst they’ve seen”

CHARLOTTE — Most flyers are cognizant of the pain that is holiday travel and do what they can to mediate that.

Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like prepping and planning are doing much good this holiday season at the Charlotte Douglas International Airport.

A viewer called Channel 9′s newsroom on Saturday morning to tell us it’s the worst line they’ve ever seen on a holiday, even worse than Thanksgiving, which CLT expected to be the busiest day of the year.

There are only two TSA lines open, one of which is exclusive for PreCheck members, the viewer said. Checkpoints 1 and E are open, but the rest are closed. We’ve asked airport officials and TSA to confirm this.

He said getting in and parking isn’t the issue -- the issue is getting from the entrance to the airport and to your scheduled flight.

It took this viewer 45 minutes to get through TSA at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, but TSA officials told him it’s only going to get worse throughout the day.

Another passenger had a more optimistic view of the situation.

“It looks busy, it looks more organized than I’ve ever seen it before, I think it could be worse, I’m worried for the people who are getting here later today,” said Gregory Cottingham, traveling to Texas from Charlotte.

Channel 9′s photographer at the airport said that the line at Checkpoint 1 was almost backed up until Checkpoint E. He also said the line was moving quickly.

TSA told Channel 9 they’re expecting a busier travel season than last year nationwide, and on the busiest days, the agency will screen more than 2.5 million passengers each day. The agency expects Dec. 21, Dec. 22, and Jan. 1 to be the busiest.

During Thanksgiving travel, TSA screened nearly 30 million passengers, breaking the record for the most passengers in a single day nationwide.

“We are prepared to handle the busy passenger volumes this winter holiday season,” said TSA Administrator David Pekoske.

TSA shared these tips to keep in mind while traveling:

  1. Pack smart and check what’s prohibited on the TSA website, or text @askTSA to see if you can bring an item.
  2. Arrive early - they say to arrive at the airport 2 hours ahead of your flight. CLT officials advise you to arrive 2 hours before a domestic flight and 3 hours before an international flight.
  3. Have your correct ID ready in the screening line.
  4. Ensure gifts are unwrapped and can be inspected. Otherwise, TSA may have to unwrap it to check what’s in it.
  5. Enroll in TSA PreCheck. Most PreCheck members wait less than five minutes at the checkpoints, TSA says.

In the time it took to publish this article, the number of delays doubled from eight to 17. American Airlines officials told Channel 9 there are nine AA flights delayed more than 15 minutes from CLT as of 6:45 a.m. They were unable to share how many passengers they expected to fly out of CLT today.


Channel 9 reached out to airport officials and TSA to ask why the other checkpoints are closed, whether this is the most volume of flyers they’ve experienced, and what may be leading to the headaches.

This is a developing story; we will update it as we learn more information.

(WATCH: Dec. 22 - Travel rush ramps up at airport)

Cassia Sari, wsoctv.com

Cassia is a content center producer for Channel 9.

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