Baltimore–Washington International Airport facts for kids

Kids Encyclopedia Facts
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
BWI Logo.svg
BWI airport terminal.jpg
IATA: BWIICAO: KBWIFAA LID: BWI
– WMO: 72406
Summary
Airport type Public
Owner Maryland Aviation Administration
Serves Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area
Location Anne Arundel County, near Glen Burnie, Maryland, U.S.
Elevation AMSL 146 ft / 45 m
Coordinates 39°10′31″N 076°40′06″W / 39.17528°N 76.66833°W / 39.17528; -76.66833Coordinates: 39°10′31″N 076°40′06″W / 39.17528°N 76.66833°W / 39.17528; -76.66833
Website www.bwiairport.com
Maps
FAA airport diagram

Location of airport in Maryland / United States

Runways
Direction Length Surface
ft m
10/28 10,502 3,201 Asphalt
15L/33R 5,000 1,524 Asphalt
15R/33L 9,500 2,896 Asphalt
Helipads
Number Length Surface
ft m
H1 100 30 Asphalt
Statistics (2015)
Passengers 23.82 million
Aircraft operations 246,424
Based aircraft 73 (2,010)
Cargo 257,240,742 lb (116,682 t)
Source: Federal Aviation Administration and BWI Airport.

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (IATA: BWIICAO: KBWIFAA LID: BWI) is an international airport located in Linthicum in northern unincorporated Anne Arundel County, Maryland. The airport is 9 miles (14 km) south of downtown Baltimore and 32 miles (51 km) northeast of Washington, D.C. It is the busiest, by passenger count, of three major airports serving the Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area in the United States, the other two being Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport. It is commonly referred to as BWI or BWI Marshall. The airport is named after Thurgood Marshall, a Baltimore native who became the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United States.

BWI is a focus city for Southwest Airlines, and is the second-largest airport by number of departures for that airline after Chicago–Midway. With a 71% market share in 2014, BWI is also a fortress hub for Southwest. A record 23.8 million passengers traveled through BWI in 2015, an increase of 6.8% over the previous year. BWI was ranked as the 23rd-busiest airport in North America and the 75th busiest airport in the world in 2014 by the number of passengers.

In 2010, BWI was ranked as the best airport of its size (15–25 mil. passengers) in the world by the Airports Council International based on its 2009 Airport Service Quality survey. The airport also was ranked second for North American airports in the "Best Food and Beverage Program" of the 2010 Richard A. Griesbach Excellence in Airport Concessions Contest, sponsored by the Airports Council International.

Police services are provided by the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.

History

Early years

Planning for a new airport on 3,200 acres (1,300 ha) to serve the Baltimore/Washington area began just before the end of World War II. In 1944, the Baltimore Aviation Commission announced its decision that the best location to build a new airport would be on a 2,100-acre (850 ha) tract of land near Linthicum Heights. The cost of building the airport was estimated at $9 million. The site was chosen because it was a 15-minute drive from downtown Baltimore; close to the Pennsylvania Railroad line, the Baltimore and Annapolis Railroad line, and the proposed Baltimore–Washington Parkway; and visibility was generally good. An alternate site along Ritchie Highway at Furnace Branch was rejected by the United States War Department, and another possible site at Lipin's Corner was deemed too far from Baltimore. The State Aviation Commission approved of the Linthicum Heights site in 1946.

Much of the land was purchased from Friendship Methodist Church in 1946, and ground was broken on May 2, 1947. Friendship Methodist Church held its last service on Easter Sunday in 1948. Friendship Methodist Church was razed to make room for the new airport. In addition, several pieces of land were bought, and 170 bodies buried in a cemetery were moved. Baltimore-Fort Meade Road was moved to the west to make way for the airport's construction.

Friendship International Airport was dedicated on June 24, 1950, by President Harry Truman. At the time, it had the only commercial jet service in the Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area. Truman arrived in the Independence from Washington National carrying Governor William Preston Lane, Jr. and Baltimore Mayor Thomas D'Alesandro, Jr. on his first aircraft flight. The total cost to construct the airport totaled $15 million. The following month the airlines moved to the new airport from Baltimore Municipal Airport (southeast of Baltimore at 39°15′N 76°32′W / 39.25°N 76.53°W / 39.25; -76.53). Eastern Airlines flew the first scheduled flight, a DC-3, into the airport at 12:01 am on July 23, 1950. Seven minutes later, the same plane was also the first flight to depart from the airport. 300 people came to watch the first flight arrive and depart.

The Official Airline Guide for April 1957 shows 52 weekday departures: 19 Eastern, 12 Capital, 8 American, 4 National, 3 TWA, 3 United, 2 Delta, and 1 Allegheny. Miami had a couple of nonstop flights, but westward nonstop flights did not reach beyond Ohio; Baltimore's reach expanded when jet service started. The early Boeing 707s and Douglas DC-8s could not use Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport did not open until 1962, so Baltimore became Washington's jet airport in May–June 1959 when American and TWA began transcontinental 707 flights.

1970s–1990s

The State of Maryland, through the Maryland Department of Transportation, purchased Friendship International Airport from the City of Baltimore for $36 million in 1972. Under MDOT, the Maryland State Aviation Administration took over airfield operations and grew from three employees to more than 200. Plans to upgrade, improve, and modernize all Maryland airport facilities were announced almost immediately by the Secretary of Transportation, Harry Hughes.

In order to attract passengers from the Washington metropolitan area, particularly Montgomery and Prince George's counties, the airport was renamed Baltimore/Washington International Airport, effective November 16, 1973.

The first phase of the airport's modernization was completed in 1974 at a cost of $30 million. Upgrades included improved instrument landing capabilities and runway systems, and construction of three new air cargo terminals, expanding the airport's freight capacity to 2.53 acres (1.02 ha).

The passenger terminal renovation program was complete in 1979, the most dramatic work of the airport's modernization, which was designed by DMJM along with Peterson & Brickbauer. The BWI terminal more than doubled in size to 14.58 acres (5.90 ha); the number of gate positions increased from 20 to 27. The total cost was $70 million. To continue the work, the BWI Development Council was established to support initiatives for airport development.

The BWI Rail Station opened in 1980, providing a rail connection to passengers on the busy Northeast Corridor through Amtrak. BWI was the first airport in the U.S. with a dedicated intercity rail station. In particular, the station provided relatively easy transit access to Washington, D.C., something that Dulles will not have until 2018 at the earliest. In 1997 a new international terminal (Concourse E), designed by STV Group and William Nicholas Bodouva & Associates, was added, though Dulles continues to hold the lion's share of the region's international flights, and BWI has not attracted many long-haul international carriers. British Airways has had a presence at BWI for many years. AerLingus, Air Jamaica, Air Aruba, Air Greenland, El Al, Ghana Airways, Icelandair, KLM, Ladeco, and Mexicana previously flew to BWI. Military flights, operated by the U.S. Air Force's Air Mobility Command, continue to have a significant presence at BWI.

In the first half of the 1990s, runway 15L/33R was extended 1,800 feet (550 m) from 3,199 ft (975 m) to its current length of 5,000 ft (1,500 m), allowing it to be used for smaller passenger jets like the Boeing 737.

Beginning in the 1980s and later for much of the 1990s, BWI was a major hub for Piedmont Airlines and successor US Airways, but that airline's financial difficulties in the wake of the dot-com bust, the September 11 attacks, and intense low fare competition forced it to reduce its presence at the airport. The airport has been a major haven for low-cost flights in the Baltimore/Washington Metropolitan Area since Southwest Airlines' arrival in September 1993 and subsequent expansion in the early 2000s. Southwest is the airport's largest carrier, accounting for 56.12% of passengers carried in 2011. Southwest Airlines currently serves on average 245 daily departures to destinations in the US, Mexico and the Caribbean.

2000s–present

To accommodate Southwest's extensive presence at the airport, in 2005 Concourses A and B were expanded, renovated, and integrated with one another to house all of that airline's operations there. This new facility, designed by URS Corporation, opened on May 22, 2005. On October 1 of that year, the airport was renamed again, becoming Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, to honor former US Supreme Court justice Thurgood Marshall, who grew up in Baltimore.

On August 5, 2014, little-used runway 04-22 was permanently closed.

The airport has been a backdrop in numerous films, including The Silence of the Lambs, Goldfinger, Broadcast News, and Twelve Monkeys.

In late 2008, Health magazine named BWI the second healthiest airport in the United States. In 2009 the airport had a six percent increase in air travelers due to the proliferation of discount flights. In a 2009 survey of airport service quality by Airports Council International, BWI was the world's top ranking airport in the 15-to-25-million-passenger category. BWI also ranked seventh, in medium-sized airports, based on customer satisfaction conducted by J.D Power and Associates.

In early 2016, a partnership between the airport and Towson University's WTMD Radio Station announced a new concert series that will take place at the terminal's baggage claim on the lower level. The local bands of Wye Oak, Arboretum, and Super City. This new series follows the release event of Animal Collective's new album Painting With on November 25, 2015, where the new album was streamed throughout the airport.

Terminals

BWIA-BTerminal
Southwest Airlines ticket counters
Baggage claim 2
Baggage claim area
Kbwi
International terminal (Pier E)

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport has five concourses, though Concourses A and B were essentially merged into a single concourse in the renovations completed in 2005. The Maryland Aviation Administration has its headquarters on the third floor of the terminal building.

Passenger concourses

Concourses A and B have 25 gates: A1 to A11 and B2 to B15.
Southwest Airlines is the only tenant of concourses A and B.

Concourse C has 14 gates: C1 to C14.
The tenants of the concourse are Alaska Airlines, American Airlines and Southwest Airlines. Concourse C is connected to Concourses A/B by a secure connector.

Concourse D has 24 gates: D1 to D5, D7, D8, D10 to D16, D20 to D26, D29, and D36 to D37.
It serves Air Canada Express, Allegiant Air, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Southern Airways, Southwest Airlines (international arrivals that are not pre-cleared), Spirit Airlines, United Airlines and ViaAir. The far end of Concourse D is built at ground level to serve small regional planes. Gates D1, D3 and D5 are international swing gates generally used by Southwest Airlines for non-precleared international arrivals. These swing gates can serve both domestic and international passengers. Concourse D is connected to concourse E by a secure connector.

Concourse E has 5 gates: E1, E3, E4, E6, and E8.
Officially known as the Governor William Donald Schaefer International Terminal, it serves British Airways, Condor, Norwegian Air Shuttle, Southwest Airlines (international arrivals that are not pre-cleared) and WOW Air. All international arrivals from non-pre-cleared destinations and all charter airlines are handled at Concourse E. The Air Mobility Command has a post in Concourse E flying active service troops out to worldwide destinations.

Cargo concourse

The airport's cargo concourse covers a 395,000 sq ft (36,700 m2) area. Its facilities include a 60,000 sq ft (5,600 m2) cargo building in the Midfield Cargo Complex, a foreign trade zone, a 17 acres (6.9 ha) air cargo ramp, and ramp parking for 17 aircraft with direct nose-in access for 8 freighters.

Airline lounges

  • British Airways contracts the Chesapeake Club Lounge in Concourse E, near entrance to the concourse, for use by its elite and Club World passengers.
  • The USO operates a lounge on the lower level of the Terminal between the Concourses D and E baggage claim for United States military personnel and their families.
  • Airspace Lounge opened in Concourse D (near Gate D10) on May 7, 2011, but closed on May 27, 2016. A new lounge will take its place in mid to late 2017 under "The Club" branding, and will be accessible to Priority Pass members.

Terminal improvements

On April 30, 2013, the airport opened a new concourse C security checkpoint, with nine security lanes, the most at the airport, the airport also widened concourse C, built a new concourse A/B-C connector and added additional concessions.

The Federal Aviation Administration is currently in the process of designing a new air traffic control tower that will replace the current tower. The new tower is estimated to cost between $21 million and $26 million and be 228 ft (69 m) tall. There is no estimated construction start date.

On July 12, 2013, BWI Airport and the Maryland Aviation Administration launched a 3-year, $125-million construction project. This project included modernizing concourse D, a new airside connection linking concourse D and E, a new TSA Security checkpoint, and the addition of 3 international swing gates to allow additional international flights. New restaurants, shops, and a new children's play facility were also added to Concourse E. The project began in late 2014, and was completed in fall 2016.

A $60.3 million expansion to Concourse E was announced in February 2017. The enhancements include 70,000 square feet of new terminal space and six additional international gates. The airport is aiming at getting new service to Asia and additional service to Europe in the near future.

Airlines and destinations

Passenger

Airlines Destinations Refs
Air Canada Express Toronto–Pearson


Alaska Airlines Los Angeles, San Diego, Seattle/Tacoma
Seasonal: Portland (OR) (begins June 6, 2017)


Allegiant Air Asheville, Cincinnati, Savannah
Seasonal: Fort Walton Beach (begins May 31, 2017), Knoxville, Lexington, Tulsa


American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Phoenix–Sky Harbor


American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, New York–JFK, Philadelphia


Apple Vacations Seasonal Charter: Cancún, Punta Cana


Boutique Air Massena (NY) (begins April 17, 2017)


British Airways London–Heathrow


Condor Seasonal: Frankfurt


Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City
Seasonal: Cancún


Delta Connection Cincinnati, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK, Raleigh/Durham


JetBlue Airways Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando


Norwegian Air Shuttle Seasonal: Fort-de-France, Pointe-à-Pitre


Southern Airways Express Altoona, DuBois (PA), Hagerstown, Lancaster (PA)


Southwest Airlines Albany, Albuquerque, Aruba, Atlanta, Austin, Birmingham (AL), Boston, Buffalo, Cancún, Charleston (SC), Charlotte, Chicago–Midway, Cincinnati (begins June 4, 2017), Cleveland, Columbus (OH), Dallas–Love, Denver, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Grand Rapids, Hartford, Houston–Hobby, Indianapolis, Jacksonville (FL), Kansas City, Liberia (CR), Las Vegas, Long Island/Islip, Los Angeles, Louisville, Manchester (NH), Memphis, Milwaukee, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Montego Bay, Nashville, Nassau, New Orleans, Norfolk, Oakland, Oklahoma City, Orlando, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Providence, Punta Cana, Raleigh/Durham, Rochester (NY), Sacramento, Salt Lake City, San Antonio, San Diego, San Jose (CA), San José (CR), San Jose del Cabo, San Juan, Seattle/Tacoma, St. Louis, Tampa, West Palm Beach
Seasonal: Panama City (FL), Portland (OR)


Spirit Airlines Atlanta, Boston, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Houston–Intercontinental, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, New Orleans (begins May 25, 2017), Orlando, Tampa
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Myrtle Beach, Oakland (begins May 25, 2017), San Diego (begins May 25, 2017) Seattle/Tacoma (begins May 25, 2017)


United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Los Angeles, San Francisco


United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Newark


Vacation Express Seasonal Charter: Freeport, Punta Cana


ViaAir Clarksburg (WV)


Virgin America San Francisco (begins October 16, 2017)


WOW air Reykjavík–Keflavík

Cargo

Airlines Destinations 
AirNet Express Columbus–Rickenbacker
DHL Aviation
operated by ABX Air
Cincinnati, Greensboro
FedEx Express Indianapolis, Memphis
FedEx Feeder
operated by Mountain Air Cargo
Newark, Salisbury
UPS Airlines Chicago/Rockford, Louisville, New York–JFK

Ground transportation

BWI was ranked one of the "Top 10 Easiest U.S. Airports to Get to" by Aviation.com in 2007 and has a light rail station located in its main terminal.

Shuttle services, taxis, and buses

Passenger van service to and from the Eastern Shore and Western Maryland is available through BayRunner Shuttle with services to and from BWI to Kent Island, Easton, Cambridge, Salisbury, Ocean Pines, and Ocean City (for the Eastern Shore) and Grantsville, Frostburg, Cumberland, Hancock, Hagerstown, and Frederick (for Western Maryland). There are also numerous private car, rental car, and cab services, as well as shuttles that go to and from BWI to local hotels; Baltimore and Washington and their suburbs; and Central and Western Maryland.

MTA Maryland Route 17 at BWI Business
Route 17 at BWI Business Center Light Rail Stop

Bus service between BWI and the Greenbelt station of the Washington Metro and MARC Camden Line is provided by WMATA's Metrobus on Route B30 every 40 minutes from 6am-11pm on weekdays and 8:30am–10:30pm on weekends. The regular fare is $7.00 and the disabled/senior citizens rate is $3.50.

The Maryland Transit Administration's Bus Route 17 serves BWI 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. During the hours when the Light Rail operates, buses operate to the Patapsco Light Rail Stop. When the Light Rail is not in service, buses operate to Downtown Baltimore.

The Maryland Transit Administration's Bus Route 99 serves BWI during peak periods every half-hour on weekdays from 6:15am–7:45am & 2pm-5pm NB and 6am-9am & 3:20pm–4:50pm SB. Route 99 connects with the MTA Light Rail Station at BWI Business District and Baltimore Metro at Old Court Station, also serving U.M.B.C, CCBC Catonsville, Catonsville, Security Sq Mall, Woodlawn, Milford Mill and Randallstown. Route 99 also has express portions of the route on I-95 from BWI to U.M.B.C. and I-695 from Edmonson Ave & Ingleside Ave (NB from CCBC Catonsville) to Security Sq Mall.

MTA Commuter Bus route 201 connects BWI with Arundel Mills, Burtonsville, Norbeck, Shady Grove station, and Gaithersburg. Buses operate once an hour (4am-6pm eastbound, 5am-11pm westbound), seven days a week. Fare is $5.00.

The RTA 501/Silver Route operates between BWI and The Mall in Columbia hourly at most times except overnight.

Highway

BWI is located at the southeast terminus of Interstate 195, a spur route providing connections to the Baltimore–Washington Parkway and Interstate 95.

Rail

Baltimore light rail at BWI.agr
Light rail train at BWI station

BWI Rail Station is located about a mile from the airport terminal; the free BWI Marshall Airport Shuttle connects the train station and airport terminals. The station is served by Amtrak Northeast Corridor trains, including the partially high-speed Acela Express, and the MARC Penn Line. Travel time by train is about twenty minutes to Baltimore's Penn Station and thirty-five minutes to Union Station in Washington, D.C. Trains depart at least once an hour seven days a week, with departure times during rush hours and business hours being significantly more frequent.

The Maryland Transit Administration's Light Rail line has a stop just outside the entrance to the airport's International Terminal. Passengers can take the Light Rail to a variety of destinations in Anne Arundel County, Baltimore City, and Baltimore County, and can transfer to the Metro Subway in Baltimore, or to either of MARC's Baltimore terminals. A ride downtown takes approximately 30 minutes. Trains run every 20 minutes during peak hours, and 30 minutes all other times.

In June 2007, the Maryland Department of Transportation, at the request of the Maryland General Assembly in 2006, commissioned a report on a proposal to extend the Washington Metro Green Line, from its current terminus at Greenbelt, through Howard County to BWI.

Cycling

In August 2014, BWI launched a new bicycle sharing system with the Boston-based company Zagster. Located adjacent to the BWI Airport Light Rail Station, the bike sharing service connects terminal passengers to the nearby BWI Trail, as well as other local destinations.

Other facilities

Thomas A. Dixon Jr. Aircraft Observation Area
Type Observation Plaza
Location BWI Airport
1911 Dorsey Road
Glen Burnie, MD 21061
Coordinates Script error: The function "coordinsert" does not exist.
Area 50 acres (20 ha)
Operated by BWI Airport
Open All year
Website http://www.bwiairport.com/

Business District

In 1985, the BWI Business District was established as a way to formalize businesses and hotels operating adjacent to the airport. The district comprises two smaller districts located to the north (West Nursery Hotel District) and west (Stoney Run District) of the airport. Numerous traveler resources and employment centers are located within both districts, such as the BWI Rail Station and BWI Rental Car Facility in the Stoney Run District, and the BWI Business District Light Rail Station, the NSA Friendship Annex, and dozens of hotel facilities in the West Nursery District.

DHS/CBP Facility

A DHS facility is located in the lower level of the main terminal, near the international arrivals area / Concourse E Baggage Claim. This facility also includes a Global Entry Enrollment Center, as well as a TSA PreCheck enrollment facility.

Recreation

In the early 1990s, BWI Airport opened the Thomas A. Dixon Aircraft Observation Area at Friendship Park. The observation plaza features a playground and a terrace overlooking the southern approach to the airport's 15R-33L runway. From this vantage point, several planes can be viewed simultaneously as they prepare for landing. The southern loop of the 13.3 mile BWI Trail travels through the park, providing cyclist and pedestrian access to the park.


Baltimore–Washington International Airport Facts for Kids. Kiddle Encyclopedia.