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Ever worry about being flattened by a beeping airport cart at CLT? Good news...

Crowds descend on Charlotte airport

The Christmas exodus out of Charlotte took hold at Charlotte Douglas International Airport Friday morning, with long lines and crowded parking lots.
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The Christmas exodus out of Charlotte took hold at Charlotte Douglas International Airport Friday morning, with long lines and crowded parking lots.

There’s one less thing for you to worry about at Charlotte’s airport.

American Airlines has stopped relying on electric carts to carry passengers around Charlotte’s airport, the company confirmed Wednesday.

The airline said it made the change in early April and instead is using wheelchairs for customers requiring special assistance.

Airport crowds
Citing safety and congestion concerns, American Airlines said it has ended the use of electric carts for passengers at Charlotte Douglas International Airport. It will use wheelchairs instead. JEFF WILLHELM Observer file photo

Charlotte Douglas International Airport is the only airport where American has made the switch, airline spokeswoman Katie Cody said in a statement, citing the challenges of transfers and narrow concourses.

The airport is a hub for American and is the sixth busiest in the world, based on takeoffs and landings. Charlotte Douglas had about 44.4 million passengers last year.

Cody said the move, which was made in conjunction with the airport, was done for three main reasons:

▪ Safety and congestion in the main terminal. The carts were adding to congestion issues and causing safety concerns for riders and the people around them.

▪ Customer service. With the carts, passengers may have needed to transfer up to seven times while people in wheelchairs will remain in the same chair.

▪ Efficiency. American did a study last summer and found that the carts are not nearly as efficient as wheelchairs.

“Customers will almost always get to their connecting gate quicker with a wheelchair push,” Cody said.

Airport 2
American Airlines says it is only using wheelchairs, instead of electric carts, for passengers requiring additional assistance. Adam Bell abell@charlotteobserver.com

The electric carts seated up to six but usually were not full. American has not received any complaints about the change, according to Cody.

No other airline at Charlotte Douglas uses electric carts, according to the airport. A spokesperson said the airport has not received any complaints about the carts’ removal.

American’s move comes as airlines face heightened scrutiny about how their passengers are being treated.

That includes a doctor dragged off a United Airlines plane for refusing to give up his seat and a woman who claimed United forced her to pee in a cup at her seat because she was not allowed to use the plane’s bathroom.

And American apologized for an incident where a flight attendant upset a female passenger over her bringing a stroller on board, then the attendant got into a heated confrontation with another passenger.

Adam Bell: 704-358-5696, @abell

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