A guide to Baltimore Airport (BWI)
Right, just before you read on, this is a really brief post on my experience of BWI.
I know this sounds incredibly specific, however BWI's popularity is gaining momentum due to new routes from Play Airline carrying passengers over to Europe (Reykjavik is its hub) for a low-cost rate.
In fact, budget carriers from Europe to USA are all the rage. Norse, a Norwegian airline, is the newest budget carrier to the USA too, created as recently as 2021.
So, if you want to fly to the East Coast for an affordable price - you can. I did! I flew from London Stansted to Baltimore via Reykjavik for only £330 return. There's another blog post about that journey and my evaluation of Play here - but I wanted to give you some context...
Some context on my journey
I flew into BWI on Tuesday 20th September at 17:00 and flew out on Thursday 29th September at 19:00 - essentially the shoulder season. Both planes were full with passengers. I'm saying to justify my opinion - there be times in the year like Holiday Seasons when it will no doubt be busier, and other times when it's quieter!
Oh, and I also only had a backpack with me - no check-in luggage.
Flying Out of BWI
Firstly, there's lots of car parking space outside with drop-off access too.
For BWI: There is 1 Terminal and 5 Concourses - A, B, C, D, E.
As you walk into BWI, electronic screens will tell you which gate your plane will depart from; it will be a concourse letter and gate number. For example, if it's C5, then you will need to go to Concourse C and Gate 5. See below picture showing layout of E5 and E8.
You find your concourse prior to security - there are signs everywhere to help you navigate. Once you found your concourse you go through security. There aren't rows and rows of security conveyor belts, so waiting time depends on season, date, time etc.
What is frustrating is that the concourses aren't linked and open together. You can't move from A to E for example. So if you fancy a Chick-fil-A in Concourse A and you're in Concourse D or E then that's bad luck.
However, there are plenty of refreshment options and restrooms. Plus, and this is important, there is an abundance of seating WITH charging points. You'll see them lit in blue below...
I think I speak for all travellers when really all we want are charging points before flight. The concourses are bright and spacious with huge windows overlooking the planes! There's a children's play area between Concourse D and E (which are linked) which is a nice idea too. I'm not sure if there are the same amenities in other concourses.
There are helpful screens everywhere (like below) updating you with the airport's services and flights.
Overall experience flying out of BWI
I would honestly say it was 8/10.
It was extremely clean, there were plenty of staff and cleaners around the premises, loads of seats with charging points and lots of refreshment options. The standard necessities you want from an airport before you fly!
Security check-in could be better and it'd be nice if the concourses were linked to get the full range of refreshments, but that's nitpicking.
Flying into BWI
I can't give as much detail as flying out of the airport as one typically spends less time as they want to get out the airport as quickly as possible.
For me - if you're not a US citizen the queues were astronomically slow. I felt a real imbalance of attention given between non-US and US citizens - and this really isn't coming from a place of entitlement. It really, really isn't. Just an observation. However, once I did get to the front, the customs officers were very kind, polite and humorous.
Other than that however, it's straightforward. The bag collection is in a large, open area so it wouldn't get crowded. And the lobby to get to different car parks is easily navigable too.
Overall experience flying into BWI
I have to base this as a non-US citizen, so I say it was 6/10.
If you're a US citizen, you're laughing!
If you want to read more about Washington DC: