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Stress-free Thanksgiving travel: Plan ahead, arrive early

Christmas may be the most wonderful time of year but Thanksgiving is the busiest at Charleston International Airport.
Beginning this weekend and continuing through Nov. 27, an estimated 100,000 people are expected to fly in and out of the airport. Last year just over 95,000 passengers came through CHS during Thanksgiving. Passenger counts are up over last year, and Paul G. Campbell Jr., executive director and CEO of the Charleston County Aviation Authority, expects that to continue through the end of December.
“We are having a great year and we will reach, and possibly top, 4 million passengers in 2017,” Campbell said. “This next week we expect to be very busy with Thanksgiving travelers so we encourage everyone to plan ahead and arrive at the airport early.”
In both 2015 and 2016, the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and the Sunday after were the busiest travel days at CHS with approximately 15,000 passengers each of those days. So here are some tips to help make your travels stress free:
  • Expect lines. Arrive 90 minutes before departure for domestic travel and two hours before for international travel.
  • Pack your carry-on luggage wisely. Remove any items that are prohibited on an aircraft and be prepared to remove liquids and electronic devices for separate screening by the Transportation Security Administration.
  • Check your flight status with your airline or on Charleston International’s website at  
  • Plan ahead for parking. While nearly 5,000 parking spaces are available for passengers, spaces fill quickly:
    • Parking deck: 1,271 spaces
    • Surface lot: 2,332 spaces
    • Seasonal remote parking: 1,105
    • Valet parking: 195
The seasonal remote lots opens when the surface lot and parking deck fill to capacity. In that event, shuttle service will be provided between the remote lots and the terminal. Remote parking is $10 a day. Payment in the remote lot is by credit or debit card only. No cash.
ccaa_009701_revised_parkingmap_2017_04.jpgWhen parking at the airport:
  • Never leave valuables visible in your vehicle. Lock them in the trunk and be sure to close all windows and lock all doors.
  • Do not park or leave your car unattended in an area that is not clearly designated for parking. 
  • Parking or stopping in front of the terminal is prohibited except for active loading and unloading. 
  • Do not bypass gates blocking the entrance to a parking lot. The facility is full and no spots are available.
In addition to passenger parking, CHS provides 40 spaces in its cell phone waiting lot on International Boulevard just before the terminal. You can also park in the deck or the surface lot as space is available if you want to come inside to greet your arrivals. The first 20 minutes of parking is free if you enter and leave the parking facilities within 20 minutes. If not, rates are $1 for each 20 minutes with a maximum of $10 a day in the surface lot and a maximum of $15 a day in the parking deck. Valet parking is $21 a day.

After you have arrived early, take time to shop at Veranda News-Discover Charleston, the Hudson shops, Low Country Harley Davidson, Eddie Bauer or Tech on the Go. Or get a drink and/or bite to eat at Caviar and Bananas, Charleston Beer Works, Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Grill, Harvest & Grounds, Burger King or Samuel Adams Brewhouse.
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