How to not be awful at the Charlotte airport. 4 tips

Passengers check their baggage in at the US Airways ticket counters at Charlotte Douglas International Airport on Nov. 18,2014. The busiest travel days during the Thanksgiving holiday are expected to be Tuesday, November 25, Wednesday, November 26 and Monday, December 1.

The airport can bring out the worst in people.

We’ve all watched someone yell at a gate agent for something that’s not their fault or have averted our eyes as a couple squabbles in the corner surrounded by bags. I’ve “accidentally” rolled over a few sets of toes when someone didn’t move fast enough.

The unique combination of tight connections, crowds, insufficient air conditioning and excess amounts of stuff basically sets you up for failure. At the same time, I believe that we, as a collective human race, can work together to make air travel via Charlotte Douglas International Airport less terrible. Here are some ways to start:

(1) Prep for security.

I don’t care whether you’re flying first class or are next to the bathroom and a guy who wants to tell you about his toenail fungus; TSA is the great equalizer.

With this in mind, consider your airport attire carefully. You know you’re going to have to take your shoes off to go through security, so choose accordingly. And now is definitely not the time to try out that new layered look with three of your blingiest necklaces.

(2) Know the rules.

If you don’t travel a lot, that’s cool, but do some research ahead of time so you know what you can and can’t bring with you. I once saw a lady try to bring half a Rite Aid with her, then throw a fit when the TSA agents made her dump the huge bottles. I wanted to offer to re-buy her entire collection of Herbal Essences if she would just head through the line.

Flew over the Grand Canyon✈️

A photo posted by Lauren Levine (@lifewithlauren1) on

(3) Stand to the right, walk to the left.

The moving walkways in the Charlotte airport are great. If you want to chill and enjoy the ride, that’s fine. Just do so on the right side so people can get by you. Don’t make me lower my shoulder and remix you like Luke Kuechly so I can pass.

(4) Breathing room is good when boarding.

There’s something about boarding time that makes everyone crowd the gate like a pack of zombies. Remember: the great thing about planes is that everyone will have a seat. We can all just hang back a little, make some space by the door and wait until our zone is called.

Fortunately, the airport experience can actually be pretty pleasant if you look for the pockets of cheerfulness. Have you ever relaxed in those rocking chairs in that little atrium area that’s full of light and zen?

Plus the Charlotte airport has some great food options, so you’re not stuck eating a tragic ham and cheese sandwich and a Sabra hummus container that gives you way too much hummus and not enough pretzels.

Also, if you do any amount of regular travel, TSA pre-check is totally worth it. You can apply right at the Charlotte airport or at the office on South Mint Street. Keep your laptop in its bag, keep your shoes on and just breeze right on through like the VIP you are. Beyonce’s got nothin’ on you.

Photo courtesy of Robert Lahser / Charlotte Observer.

Lauren LevineLauren Levine writes about her obsession with Charlotte, her dating adventures,  and other tales on her blog Life with Lauren. She tweets as @lifewithlauren1.



  1. Rule number 1 – spring for TSA pre-check which alleviates some of the security hassle (no shoes off, no liquids out, no computer out, etc.).


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