If you’ve never been to Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT Airport) before – then you’re in for a real treat. It’s one of those airports with a very good layout – a hub and spoke model so that you can easily get from one terminal to the other without getting on a tram, or bus. In other words, everything is connected. Which means there’s a lot to explore!
Thanks to tripchi, you can enjoy this compiled list of *a few of my favorite CLT things*.
CLT Airport – Aviation Public Art Program
CLT Airport has a great art program, Just Plane Art, which includes more than 20 permanent and rotating exhibits. With aviation (and other) art all over the airport, all you have to do is look up!
Above your head, flying through the airport, are several plane replicas on display.
The highlight is a 1/2 scale Wright Brother’s Flyer replica of the original Wright Flyer flown by Orville and Wilbur Wright on December 17, 1903, in Concourse E.
And when you’re approaching CLT Airport by car, you can’t miss the huge sculpture – Ascendus. At 60-feet in height, the sculpture is the largest piece of public art in Mecklenburg County (where CLT is located), and was created by artist Ed Carpenter. Ascendus was fabricated almost entirely locally by a Charlotte-based Steel Fab.
Also on approach to the airport, standing guard in front of the airport entrance in the CLT’s Queen’s Courtyard, there’s a 15-foot-high bronze sculpture of Queen Charlotte. The sculpture is the centerpiece of the large plaza featuring a 40-foot reflecting pool.
And of course you can’t forget the rocking chairs. The inspiration for the rockers came from a 1997 digital monoprints exhibit by Jamie Franki, “Porchsitting, A Charlotte Regional Family Album”. Now, there are 100 rockers spread throughout the airport for you to enjoy and relax in.
When you hit the main Atrium and find yourself enjoying the piano (and often someone playing).
Also don’t forget to look up! There’s a beautiful mobile of aviation circling above you. You can see them better from the balcony, which is a little known secret, and offers great views of the Atrium and the airfield.
There’s also other non-aviation art sprinkled throughout the airport, such as this Nascar Mural, featuring some of the legends as you pass by on the moving walkway:
Finally, the 5K Runway Run. We all know it’s hard to stay healthy while traveling. Well, if you’re flying through CLT Airport during their annual Oct 26 Runway Run, then you have no excuse to sit around and be a lump! Join the fun as thousands of people run through the airfield. If you’re at the airport on every other day of the year, the airport end to end (going through every Concourse) is over a 3 mile walk.
Other Great Things about CLT Airport
Let’s start with free Wi-fi! You can get your work done, catch up on e-mail, or surf the web throughout the airport. No need to buy an international calling plan if you’re coming in from overseas.
Catch a shorter security line if you’re a TSA PreCheck member (fee applies), which has lines at Security Checkpoint B and E, which connect to all gates (since the entire airport is interconnected, you can use either line) (however it’s been reported in FlyerTalk that these PreCheck checkpoints tend to move around). If you’re flying preferred in a higher cabin class, Security Checkpoint C is the one you’ll need.
Power outlets are also available for your working and charging pleasure. They are located throughout airport, and you’ll also see free charging stations near Gates A6, B2, B10, C2, C10, C15, D3 and beside Carolina NewsBeat on Concourse E.
If you want to spend your airport time in a less crowded environment, there are a couple of options. If you’re a member of the US Military (of a family member), Charlotte has a great USO Lounge on the second floor Atrium. They have snacks and drinks, an entertainment room, and a a business area to use a computer and check email.
For everybody else, you can buy a day pass to either of the two US Airways Clubs located in the CLT Airport (Concourses B and C). The Concourse C club even has a business center attached where you can conduct business meetings, host a conference, or a work session.
There’s also an interesting bar & lounge, Uptown, that has a more businesslike area to relax in, and have a drink while you get some work done. It’s located in Concourse A.
Finally, another unique thing about CLT Airport is the convenient water fountains that double as water bottle filler uppers. Be sure to bring an empty water bottle with you to take advantage of at this airport and save yourself the $4.
Best Shopping at CLT Airport
My favorite stores include the Lacoste store in the central atrium near the US Airways Club, which never disappoints for sporty and casual upscale fashion for men and women (love the polo shirts).
I also like Erwin Pearl, which is nearby in the main Atrium between the D and E concourses. Erwin Pearl offers high-quality fashion jewelry including earrings, necklaces, rings, bracelets, pins & watches and has many unique designer pieces. Great for browsing.
If you’re a sports fan then you will love both EA Sports at the Concourse C entrance. It offers sports apprarel, including items from local universities and the Carolina Panthers. There’s also a few kisoks set up to play some of their latest video games – a great way to kill time!
Golf aficionados will also enjoy (besides Lacoste) the, which sells golf equipment and apparel (Atrium near Concourse D & E).
Finally, I never pass up the chance to get a neck or back rub (or a mani-pedi). CLT Airport’s Terminal Getaway Spa offers great spa choices right in the terminal (located towards the entrance of Concourse D).
Best Dining at CLT Airport
My personal favorite is Beaudevin Wine Bar, a great place to sip, snack, and relax, while taking in the view of the airport from the central Atrium (near the piano).
If you’re not in to wine, beer and gourmet burgers is a great option too. For this, check out Bad Daddy’s Burger Bar in Concourse C.
For a visual spectacle (even if the food isn’t great), the Stock Car Cafe in Concourse B offers an authentic NASCAR look and feel, with cars hanging from the ceiling.
And if you want something light, fresh, and healthy, I suggest a Brioche Doree’s in Concourse E – it’s fast, fresh French food – and a brand-new concept quick service restaurant in the CLT Airport.
Another good and healthy choice is the First in Flight Hissho Sushi Bar located in the central Atrium, right next to the piano and across from the rocking chairs and great views of the airfield. There is also a second Hissho Sushi located in Concourse D.
Long Layover at CLT Airport?
No problem. There’s a few interesting things within a stone’s throw. We already mentioned Queen’s Courtyard in front of the airport entrance – consider this if you need some R&R, introspection and reflection time (via the reflection pool). Since you’ve already left the airport, you might as well go a little further to check out the Airport Overlook nearby on Old Dowd Road. At the Overlook you can have a picnic (benches are provided) while watching planes take off and land. This is great place to link up with other #avgeek’s and aviation enthusiasts (and planespotters).
Finally, if you’re looking for something a little more educational, and are the museum type, then you should definitely make a trip to the Carolinas Aviation Museum. It’s located just next to the airport, and tells the history of Carolinas aviation (and is a Smithsonian affiliate).
You can get to many of these places, and to the city of Charlotte itself, through using the city’s public transportation system, CATS.
If you have any questions during your visit, feel free to chat up the CLT Volunteer Program to get help or information. They are easy to find since they wear “Ask Me” tags on their shirts.