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AvGeek alert: There’s a new amenity-rich observation area at Charlotte Douglas International Airport

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AvGeeks and fans of airport observation areas now have a reason to plan a trip to Charlotte.

Charlotte Douglas International Airport (CLT) has officially opened its new permanent Airport Overlook. The 600,000-square-foot observation area has an expansive and inclusive array of amenities that rival the views.

airport overlook

About 3 miles from the main terminal area, the overlook offers planespotters an ideal perch for views of the airfield, the skyline and the terminal. Of course, that’s what you’d expect from an airport observation area. It’s also what CLT’s four previous overlooks, dating back to 1937, offered.

historic clt observation deck

However, the new Airport Overlook has loads of modern and very welcome bells and whistles.

For starters, it features LED lighting, plenty of paved and accessible parking for cars and buses, and an expanded food truck staging area. Plus, Airport Overlook has pet relief areas, restrooms with baby changing stations, bicycle racks, picnic tables and shaded areas to escape the sun.

There are also two age-specific, aviation-themed playgrounds on-site; they offer a play-safe runway and climbable structures, such as a miniature air traffic control with a slide, a miniature fuel truck and a baggage cart.

playground airport overlook

Kids and adults who are curious about the history of flight and want to know how airplanes and airports work can read the information panels. The panels detail the types of planes that fly in and out of the airport, and they explain everything from why planes can fly to how runways are built and named. A short history of CLT is included.

Overlook visitors can also admire a retired U.S. military fighter jet, an F-4 Phantom II, that flew during the Vietnam War and the Cold War. Additionally, they can spend time at the memorial dedicated to US Airways Flight 1016. That flight, which was traveling from Columbia, South Carolina, to Charlotte, crashed near CLT on July 2, 1994, killing 37 people and injuring at least 20 others.

navy jet

“The Airport knows how important the Overlook is to the local community and we worked diligently to create a place that people of all ages will enjoy,” CLT chief infrastructure officer Jack Christine said in a statement. “This space showcases many displays and features that will educate, inspire and create lasting memories.”

kids area airport overlook

This is CLT’s fifth observation area. The first location dates back to 1937. The most recent location opened in 1989 and closed in October 2022 to make way for the airport’s North End-Around Taxiway and future Fourth Parallel Runway; a temporary area was available during the construction, though.

How to find CLT’s new Airport Overlook

Airport Overlook at Charlotte Douglas International Airport is about 3 miles west of the terminal off Old Dowd Road at 5130 Airport Overlook Drive. Look for the blue and white tail sign.

There is currently no bus service between the airport and Airport Overlook, but if you want to visit the area during a long layover or before or after a flight, it should be a fairly inexpensive ride via Uber or Lyft.

Charlotte’s Airport Overlook is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is free.