COLAtoday City Guide Live Banner

Making your flying process plane and simple at Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE)

To help make your entire experience at Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) as smooth as possible, we’ve created a guide that covers everything from gates and parking to food and bev options.

Sunrise at Columbia Metropolitan Airport

Passenger pick up and drop off are a breeze at Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE).

Photo provided by CAE

Table of Contents

Feeling the travel bug, COLA? Same. Hopping on a plane means that in just a few hours you’ll get to explore an exciting destination. If navigating an airport sounds stressful, leave those worries behind. To help make your time at Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) as smooth as possible, we’ve created a guide that covers everything from gates and parking to details on CAE’s nonstop flights to cities like Dallas, Chicago, Philadelphia, New York City, and more.

What to know

  • Check Flight status | While you may prefer to stay updated via your respective airline, you can also check your flight status here in a pinch.
  • Arrive early | According to CAE’s website, passengers should arrive 90 minutes to two hours before the scheduled departure for domestic flights. Here are six tips for a smooth security experience.
  • Food and drink | If you have spare time — because your check-in experience was so quick — you’ll probably want to grab a bite to eat. A breakfast sandwich from the newly-opened Dunkin’ and coffee from Red Eye Express will tide you through to your next destination.
  • Real ID reminder | You will be required to have a Real ID by May 7, 2025 to board domestic and commercial flights.
Columbia Metropolitan Airport ticket counters

The transformed ticket counters that opened in 2022 gave passengers the ability to check bags where they pick up tickets. | Photo via @flycae

Current and recent airport updates

Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE) initiated a multi-year airport master plan project to evaluate its current facilities and capacity for future growth over the next 20 years. The project aims to enhance passenger experience and community engagement through in-terminal surveys and an online feedback platform. To contribute to the conversation and provide input on the airport’s future development, locals can complete the online survey.

CAE is undergoing a comprehensive transformation of its food, beverage, and retail offerings, to enhance the traveler experience. New and coming additions include:

  • Jimmy John’s
  • Dunkin’
  • Samuel Adams Columbia Brewhouse
  • Friendly Caterer To-Go
  • Vista Trading — a local marketplace concept that will feature products from Midlands’ vendors
  • Opening soon, Explore Columbia — a retail space featuring outdoor and adventure gear.

The multi-phased retail and dining project is expected to be completed by the winter of 2024.

CAE introduced new software, FlyMyAirport, on its website, enabling passengers to book flights directly from With this feature powered by KAYAK and developed by Airport One, LLC, travelers can easily search for domestic and international flights + access flight, hotel, car, and travel package deals.

Last April, CAE updated its ticket counter area as part of the in-line baggage system project. The new in-line baggage and common-use systems brought updated check-in kiosks and new digital displays at our ticket counters — making the check-in process for passengers easier than before.

parking garage entrance

Garage parking at the CAE is $14/day + surface lot parking is $10/day. | Photo provided by Columbia Metropolitan Airport (CAE)

Parking, shuttles, and rideshare

Not everyone has a bestie who will drop everything to pick them up from their late-night landing. The surface lot option offers 30 minutes of free parking with each additional 30 minutes costing $1. Beyond that, the price per day is as listed:

  • Surface lot parking | $10/day
  • Garage parking | $14/day
  • Premier parking lot | $1,000/per year for frequent flyers

Pro tip: All parking options are within walking distance of CAE’s main entrance, TSA, and your gate.

If you dislike the idea of driving yourself, try out a shuttle, rideshare, or taxi service that will take you to and from CAE. Take a peek at a few services offered at CAE:

  • Taxi | $2.50/mile, plus $2 starting on the meter | Taxi pick-up is on the lower level of the terminal in the baggage claim area outside the doors to the left of the rental car counters.
  • Complimentary hotel shuttles | Contact your hotel for details.
  • Rideshare (Uber and Lyft) | Rideshare services are available for pick-up/drop-off and pick-up is located on the lower level of the baggage claim area in front of the parking garage.

Book a Nonstop flight from Columbia next time you plan a trip. | Photo via @flycae

Nonstop flights

CAE offers multiple nonstop flights to nine major airports in eight cities. Below is a list of CAE’s current nonstop flights:

  • Atlanta | Delta Air Lines | Year-round destination
  • Charlotte | American Airlines | Year-round destination
  • Chicago | United Airlines + American Airlines | Year-round destination
  • Dallas/Ft. Worth | American Airlines | Year-round destination
  • Miami | American Airlines | Seasonal destination | Slated to restart in June 2024
  • New York, NY (LaGuardia) | Delta Air Lines + American Airlines | Year-round destination
  • Philadelphia | American Airlines | Year-round destination
  • Washington, D.C. (Dulles) | United Airlines | Year-round destination
  • Washington, D.C. (Reagan) | American Airlines | Year-round destination

Pro tip: Remember that flight times and schedules will often change you should rely on your respective airline for exact timing and to stay updated on any changes.

Check out our other Guides
From lifting weights, indoor rock climbing, personal training, dance fitness, boxing classes, and martial arts programs — we’ve rounded up 30+ gyms and fitness offerings around Columbia.
Whether you’re looking for results-driven skincare, relaxing body treatments, or want to sweat it out in the sauna, we’ve rounded up four local spas to check out.
As Columbia continues to grow, we’re keeping an eye on upcoming developments and recently opened businesses.
We’re highlighting the best kid-friendly activities that Columbia, SC has to offer — complete with art classes, animal encounters, and outdoor fun.
Got a hot new fling? Hoping to spice things up with your longtime partner? We’re here to help plan your next date night in Soda City.
Dig into Columbia’s must-try pizza shops including local legends, fancier fare, cross-country crusts, and more.
The Columbia metro area covers Calhoun, Clarendon, Fairfield, Kershaw, Lexington, Newberry, Orangeburg, and Richland counties.
Whether you’re looking for athletic classes, art classes, or cooking classes we’ve got recommendations for how to keep learning in Columbia.
Prepare for winter weather in Columbia, SC with these seasonal temperature and precipitation outlooks.
Let’s try something new. Instead of gifting someone a material item, allow them to unwrap the best giftable experiences in Columbia.
COLAtoday phone
Good news for Columbia.
Get the best local news & events sent to your inbox each morning, for free.