Charleston International Airport is busier than ever and breaking records for passengers flying in and out of the South Carolina’s busiest airport.
Nearly 2.9 million passengers arrived at or departed from the airport in 2013. That’s a 10 percent increase over the 2012 passenger total of 2.6 million and up from 2.5 million in 2011.
“These are exciting times at the airport,” said Paul Campbell, director of airports. “Our passenger traffic is growing thanks in part to the great publicity Charleston and the Lowcountry have received from national travel publications and from the great support of the airlines doing business here.”
“And, of course, the airport is undergoing a major transformation over the next two years to modernize the terminal, add five new gates,” Campbell said. “We are also going to improve efficiency in many areas, including security where we will have a consolidated TSA checkpoint rather than two separate screening areas.”
More evidence that the airport is growing: The Transportation Security Administration recently placed Charleston International among the top airports in the nation for the number of departing passengers. CHS is now a Category I airport. A Category I airport designation could give the Charleston County Aviation Authority as owner and operator of the airport access to additional Airport Improvement Program funding.
“Charleston is no longer a sleepy little airport but the gateway to one of the top tourist destinations in the world,” said Debra Engel, TSA federal security director. “We want every passenger to have a good experience and one key to that is arriving in enough time to check in and get through the security screening process. “
Engel said passengers that arrive 30 minutes before departure could miss their flight. The airport is busier and lines can be longer, particularly during the morning and afternoon hours.
“We don't want to see anyone miss their flight but 30 minutes is not enough time,” she said. “The recommended time is one hour prior to their flight.”
Passengers flying out of Charleston with connections to international flights should arrive 90 minutes before departure.