The last time I passed through Charlotte International Airport (CLT) was a few weeks ago. I was transiting from a puddle-jumper coming from Ocean City, Maryland to a full-sized jet on my way home to Sacramento. What makes Charlotte different you may ask? In a word: everything!
The wonderful part about Charlotte is its expansive atrium; a light, bright and airy building that overlooks the “B” and “C” gates. After the beautiful view out the windows, the next thing you notice is music. Not canned “mu-zac” from hollow sounding speakers – but a piano player seated at a baby grand right in the center of the building. On this day he was playing a few jazz standards. Want to sit and listen to the live music? No problem. Have a seat in one of the rocking chairs placed strategically throughout the atrium. Rock, listen to music, connect to the free Wi-Fi or charge your electronic toys at one of the several “power stations.”
Getting hungry? Try my favorite spot for Carolina BBQ, Brookwood Farms. They have a counter within listening distance of the baby grand. Or pick up a Jamba Juice if you want something lighter. Not sure what you want? I dare you to walk through the terminal and not be pleasantly surprised by the helpful airport volunteers who stand out in their bright yellow shirts. They’re easy to get food recommendations from because they aren’t behind a desk somewhere – they’re out in the open, walking around and approaching anyone who might have a confused look on their face.
And did I mention the staff in the restrooms? Yep, just like a fancy hotel or restaurant they have restroom attendants offering towels, fresh mints and other items that come in handy in between long cramped flights. Need something a little more powerful than a mint to put a spring in your step? Visit the AeroClinic in the atrium. The clinic provides treatment for minor ailments, preventative care, X-rays and vaccinations. Prescriptions and packaged medicines are also available.
Of course, there is shopping and a business center and a few other standard airport amenities. But I think you’ll agree that Charlotte goes above and beyond a “standard” airport. I can only hope that when our new terminal in Sacramento opens, they will take a lesson from “Simply Charlotte.”