Tuesday, April 21, 2015

BWI - Is bigger better?

BWI is on a roll, even with slightly sinking passenger volumes the airport is moving from one expansion project to another. (The airport has about 22 million passengers per year and ranks #23 in US airports, right after Dulles and before Salt Lake).

The airport's big engine, of course, is Southwest Airlines.  Even after that once innovative start-up is showing some age and  looks more like a legacy airline with service in many more airports, BWI remains one of the main hubs.

Governor Hogan would be foolish to replace the successful and experienced airport manager Paul Wiedefeld and as if to demonstrate that he is not afraid, he announced big new plans for the international terminal this week. That is a bit surprising given that the international terminal had been languishing for years with flights to Ghana, Iceland and Germany on and off; more off really. 

But now Southwest jumped into the breach with what they call international flights into the few close by places that their fleet can reach but that require a passport. 

BWI, once a really easy-in-easy-out airport has added quite a bit of complexity since it had been first transformed from being the sleepy Friendship Airport. That giant garage at the heart of the big U hasn't helped to make it look as clear and neat as it did in the initial concept. Still, the Southwest terminal is a joy to use and architecturally pleasing, so is the new C Gate connection to it. Compared to many airports, BWI still is a model of simplicity, convenience and order.

The A Gate area at the Southwest terminal
8 Best Alternative Airports in America (Inc)
With 94 unique destinations, BWI offers travelers looking for an alternative to Washington, D.C. Dulles International airport with extensive options and is just 34 miles from the center of Washington, D.C. With a 77 percent on-time rate and great ground transportation options this smaller airport comes with few drawbacks compared to its larger, busier counterpart.
Klaus Philipsen, FAIA

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