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Baltimore/Washington International Airport facts for kids

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Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport
BWI Logo.svg
BWI airport terminal.jpg
Airport type Public
Owner/Operator Maryland Aviation Administration (MDOT MAA)
Location Anne Arundel County, Maryland, U.S.
Focus city for Southwest Airlines
Elevation AMSL 143 ft / 44 m
Coordinates 39°10′31″N 076°40′06″W / 39.17528°N 76.66833°W / 39.17528; -76.66833
FAA airport diagram
FAA airport diagram
Runway Length Surface
ft m
10/28 10,503 3,201 Asphalt
15L/33R 5,000 1,524 Asphalt
15R/33L 9,501 2,896 Asphalt
Number Length Surface
ft m
H1 100 30 Asphalt
Statistics (2021)
Passengers 18,868,429
Aircraft operations 200,821
Cargo 618,809,261 lb (280,687 t)
Sources: BWI Airport

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (IATA: BWIICAO: KBWIFAA LID: BWI), commonly referred to as BWI or BWI Marshall, is an international airport in the Eastern United States serving mainly Baltimore, Maryland and Washington, D.C. With Dulles International Airport and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, it is one of three major airports serving the Washington–Baltimore metropolitan area. Located in an unincorporated area of Anne Arundel County, the airport is 9 miles (14 km) south of Downtown Baltimore and 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Washington, D.C.

BWI Thurgood Marshall Airport, a base for Southwest Airlines, is the 22nd busiest airport in the United States and the busiest in the National Capital region. It is named after Thurgood Marshall, a Baltimore native, who was the first African American to serve as an Associate Justice on the U.S. Supreme Court. This airport also draws large numbers of travelers from the Richmond, Harrisburg and Philadelphia metropolitan areas. BWI covers 3,160 acres (1,279 ha) of land.


The planning to build a new airport on 3,200 acres (1,300 ha) to serve the Baltimore/Washington area began just after World War II. Construction began in 1947. The airport was first named Friendship International Airport after the Friendship Methodist Church which was next to the land used to build the airport until 1948. The airport was opened on June 24, 1950, by President Harry Truman. In April 1957, the airport had 52 weekday departures. Eastern, Capital, American, National, TWA, United, 2 Delta and Allegheny flew through BWI at that time. The early Boeing 707s and Douglas DC-8s could not use Washington National, and Dulles was not built until 1962, so Baltimore became Washington's jet airport. It dealt with flights across the continent.

The State of Maryland bought Friendship International Airport from Baltimore for $36 million in 1972. The Maryland State Aviation Administration took control of the airfield. To get more passengers from the Washington area, the airport was renamed Baltimore/Washington International Airport in 1973.

The BWI Rail Station opened in 1980. It gave a rail connection to passengers on the Northeast Corridor though Amtrak. BWI became the first airport in the United States to be served by a major rail station. The station had easy access to Washington, D.C. This is something that Washington Dulles International Airport still does not have. In 1997, a new international terminal (Concourse E) was added. Dulles still deals with most of the region's international flights. Air Jamaica and British Airways have used BWI for many years. AerLingus, Air Aruba, Air Greenland, El Al, Ghana Airways, Icelandair, KLM, Ladeco, and Mexicana have used BWI in the past. Military flights by the U.S. Air Force's Air Mobility Command still use BWI.

Beginning in the 1980s and for much of the 1990s, BWI was a major hub for Piedmont Airlines and US Airways. Financial problems because of the dot-com bust, the September 11 attacks, and competition which lowered ticket prices caused them to be less active at the airport. Southwest Airlines' began using the airport in September 1993. Southwest is now the airport's largest carrier. It had 56.76% of the passengers carried in 2008. Southwest recently bought AirTran. Because of this, Southwest Holdings now has an average of 214 departures each day. BWI is now Southwest's 3rd largest destination. BWI has International flights to London, Mexico, Canada, and the Caribbean and domestic flights throughout the United States.

Airlines and destinations

Passenger airlines

Cargo airlines

Destinations with direct service from BWI
Baggage claim 2
Baggage claim area at the Baltimore/Washington International Airport.

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