The days of 15 minutes from the curb to the gate are over at Charleston International Airport. Anyone who attempts it, runs the risk of missing a flight.
Passenger traffic at Charleston International Airport has grown 75 percent in the last 10 years, and it shows no signs of slowing down. With two new airlines and additional routes already in 2018, South Carolina's largest airport expects to hit 4.5 million passengers by the end of the year.
For passengers this means parking lots fill faster and it takes longer to find parking. Twice last week overflow remote parking was opened to accommodate travelers. It’s the first time remote parking was needed before the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays.
In addition, lines at the airline ticket counters and the security checkpoint are getting longer. The average 15- to 20-minute checkpoint wait time increases if a passenger tries to bring through something that is prohibited on an aircraft.
For five weeks in April the Transportation Security Administration at CHS broke departing passenger screening records, making Sundays the busiest of travel days. May 20 was not a record at 8,737 people flying out, but the week of May 13-19 was the busiest on record at 52,445 people boarding a flight leaving CHS.
“People always ask why they need to get here two to three hours early. We now have eight airlines flying nonstop to 28 airports. This is why we are no longer a sleepy small-town airport,” said Paul G. Campbell Jr., executive director and CEO of the Charleston County Aviation Authority.
The TSA and airlines recommend fliers arrive two hours before departure time for domestic travel and three hours for a flight with an international connection.
“We are working feverishly on plans to build a new 3,000 space-parking deck to accommodate our growth now and in the foreseeable future,” Campbell said. “In the meantime, as we grow and change, our customers need to change with us. That starts with getting here early so they don’t miss their flight.”