NORTH CHARLESTON, SC (WCSC) - Officials with the Charleston County Aviation Authority say big changes are coming to the Charleston International Airport this weekend.
After being closed for more than a year, the traffic lanes in front of the terminal are reopening Saturday.
"The drop off and pick up lanes will be on the inside like they were before," said Paul G. Campbell Jr., executive director and CEO of the Charleston County Aviation Authority, which owns and operates CHS. "The outside lanes will be for public transportation like taxis, shuttle buses and those type of things.
According to a press release, a third baggage claim carousel and all Concourse B gates and boarding lounges will also open Saturday.
"We're excited to reach this point in the terminal redevelopment," Campbell said. "Our passengers have been very patient throughout the construction. Everyone loves and upgrade but everyone will love it when the construction is done."
Officials say the biggest change will be to traffic in front of the terminal.
They say passengers should watch for signage and drive with caution on International Boulevard as they become reacquainted with normal traffic flow.
"Fantastic," said Kate Lyons, who is flying back to Charleston this weekend. "That is awesome, oh my goodness!"
Also opening Saturday, a new exit lane for arriving passengers located in the airport's Central Hall.
According to release, Concourse A and some new retail and dining outlets will open in Spring of 2016. Some work will continue in the opened area for the next few weeks.
"We expect that by the end of the year most of the construction will be complete in ticketing, baggage claim and the public side of the Central Hall," Campbell said. "That's very exciting for everyone that works at the airport and for our passengers."
"It's taken a little bit longer than I would have thought, but I'm sure when it's done it will be beautiful," said Chris Brunson, a frequent flyer.
Some of the dining that will appear at the airport include: Delaware North, a 100-year-old family-owner hospitality and food service company based in Buffalo, N.Y., Caviar & Bananas, a multi-faceted market and quick service restaurant with roots on King Street in Charleston, Wendy's, Charleston Beer Works, DeSano's Pizza Bakery and Bar, Harvest & Grounds Bakery & Coffee, and Jack Nicklaus Golden Bear Grill.
Retail outlets include: Hudson Group stores, Eddie Bauer, Lowcountry Harley Davidson, Dunkin Donuts, Veranda News, Discover Charleston gift shop, and Tech on the Go.
Over 33,000 people went through TSA at Charleston International Airport around this time last year.
Officials said these areas could not be opening at a more perfect time.
"We needed to be ready by Thanksgiving," said Campbell. "We needed to have the lanes ready, we need to work on parking for Thanksgiving."
Airport officials are asking you to give yourself enough time next week to catch your flight, because of the heavy amount of travelers expected there could be delays.
The airport has also increased its security following the attacks in Paris last week.