Baltimore–Washington International Airport

Baltimore/Washington International
Thurgood Marshall Airport
WMO: 72406
Airport type Public
Owner Maryland Aviation Administration
Serves Baltimore–Washington Metropolitan Area
Location Anne Arundel County, near Glen Burnie, Maryland
Focus city for Southwest Airlines
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
A map with a grid overlay showing the terminals runways and other structures of the airport.
FAA airport diagram

Location of airport in Maryland/United States

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
Number Length Surface
ft m
H1 100 30 Asphalt
Statistics (2015)
Passengers 23,823,532
Aircraft operations 246,424
Based aircraft 73 (2,010)
Cargo 257,240,742 lb (116,682 t)
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[1] and BWI Airport.[2]

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (IATA: BWI, ICAO: KBWI, FAA LID: BWI) is an international airport located in Linthicum[3] in northern unincorporated Anne Arundel County, Maryland. The airport is 9 miles (14 km) south of downtown Baltimore[4] and 32 miles (51 km) northeast of Washington, D.C.[5] 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 was 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.[6] With a 71% market share in 2014,[7] 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.[8] BWI was the 23rd busiest airport in North America and the 75th busiest airport in the world in 2014 by number of passengers.[9]

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.[10] The airport also won second place 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.[11]

Police services are provided by the Maryland Transportation Authority Police.


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 decided the best location to build a new airport would be near Linthicum Heights.[12] The State Aviation Commission approved as well,[13] the land was purchased near Friendship Methodist Church in 1946,[14] and ground was broken in 1947.[15] Located in Anne Arundel County, Maryland next to the site where Friendship Methodist Church stood until 1948,[16]

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.[17] 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.[18] 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).

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.[19]

The State of Maryland, through the Maryland Department of Transportation, purchased Friendship International Airport from the City of Baltimore for $36 million in 1972.[20] 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,[17] the airport was renamed Baltimore/Washington International Airport, effective November 16, 1973.[21]

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).[21]

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.[22] 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.[21]

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.[23] 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,[24] was added,[25] 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 from 3,199 feet (550 m from 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[26] and subsequent expansion in the early 2000s. Southwest is the airport's largest carrier, accounting for 56.12% of passengers carried in 2011.[27] Southwest Airlines currently serves on average 245 daily departures to destinations in the US, Mexico and the Caribbean.

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, to Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, to honor the former US Supreme Court justice, who grew up in Baltimore.[28][29]

On Aug 5, 2014, little-used runway 04-22 was permanently closed.[30] It was only 6,000 feet long and used primarily when the main runways needed to be closed for repairs. The last operation on the runway was a Southwest Airlines flight from Chicago Midway that arrived at 4:18 AM.[31]

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.[32] In 2009 the airport had a six percent increase in air travelers due to the proliferation of discount flights.[33] 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.[34] BWI also ranked seventh, in medium-sized airports, based on customer satisfaction conducted by J.D Power and Associates.[35]

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.[36] 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.


New Southwest Airlines ticket counter in the Concourse A-B expansion
Baggage claim area
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.[28] The Maryland Aviation Administration has its headquarters on the third floor of the terminal building.[37]

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 38 gates: D1 to D5, D7, D8, D10 to D16, D21 to D42, D46, and D47.
It serves Air Canada Express, Allegiant Air, Delta Air Lines, JetBlue, Spirit Airlines and United Airlines. The far end of Concourse D is built at ground level to serve small regional planes. Gates D30-D35 and D38-D47 are blocked off to passengers with a temporary wall.

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

Terminal improvements

Currently improvements are being made to widen concourse C. Concourse C will be given the level of amenities found at the A and B concourses in approximately 8,500 square feet (790 m2; 0.20 acres) of new food and retail space. On April 30, 2013, the airport opened the new concourse C security checkpoint, with nine security lanes, the most at the airport, as well as a new concourse A/B-C connector.[39]

The Federal Aviation Administration is currently in the process of designing a new air traffic control tower that will replace the current tower.[40] The new tower is estimated to cost between $21 million and $26 million and be 228 ft (69 m) tall.[41] There is no estimated start date.

On July 12, 2013, BWI Airport and the Maryland Aviation Administration launched a 3-year, $125-million construction project. This project will include modernizing concourse D, a new airside connection linking concourse D and E, and the new configuration of the concourses will allow 2 gates on concourse D to serve both domestic and international flights. The project is scheduled to begin in late 2014, with an estimated completion date of fall 2016.[41]

Airlines and destinations


Air Canada Express Toronto–Pearson D
Alaska Airlines Los Angeles, San Diego (begins March 15, 2017),[42] Seattle/Tacoma C
Allegiant Air Asheville, Cincinnati, Savannah
Seasonal: Knoxville, Lexington, Tulsa
American Airlines Charlotte, Dallas/Fort Worth, Miami, Phoenix–Sky Harbor C
American Eagle Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, New York–JFK, Philadelphia C
Apple Vacations
operated by Alaska Airlines
Seasonal Charter: Cancún E
Apple Vacations
operated by Xtra Airways
Seasonal Charter: Punta Cana[43] E
British Airways London–Heathrow E
Condor Seasonal: Frankfurt E
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 D
JetBlue Airways Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando D
Norwegian Air Shuttle Seasonal: Fort-de-France, Pointe-à-Pitre E
Southern Airways Express Altoona, DuBois (PA) (begins January 3, 2017),[44] Hagerstown, Lancaster (PA) D
Southwest Airlines Albany, Albuquerque, Aruba, Atlanta, Austin, Birmingham (AL), Boston, Buffalo, Cancún, Charleston (SC), Charlotte, Chicago–Midway, 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),[45] San José (CR), San Jose del Cabo, San Juan, Seattle/Tacoma, St. Louis, Tampa, West Palm Beach
Seasonal: Panama City (FL), Portland (OR)
A, B, C, E
Spirit Airlines Atlanta, Boston, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Detroit, Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Houston–Intercontinental, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Orlando, Tampa
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul, Myrtle Beach
Sunwing Airlines Seasonal Charter: Freeport E
United Airlines Chicago–O'Hare, Denver, Houston–Intercontinental, Los Angeles, San Francisco D
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Newark D
Vacation Express
operated by Swift Air
Punta Cana[46] E
ViaAir Clarksburg (WV)[47] D
WOW air Reykjavík–Keflavík E


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


With winds from the north or west, aircraft will generally land on runway 33L and depart on runway 28. When the winds are from the south or east, arrivals are on runway 10 and departures are on runway 15R. Use of the smaller parallel runway (33R/15L) is restricted to smaller propeller-driven aircraft and small corporate jets. The largest planes that land at BWI regularly are Boeing 757s, McDonnell Douglas MD-11s, and Boeing 767s. Because of the many cargo and charter operations at BWI, it is common to see one or two Boeing 747s or Airbus A330s on a daily basis as well. Runway 10/28 was closed for a 60-day period that began on August 20, 2012 to update and implement safety requirements for Runway Safety Areas established by the Federal Aviation Administration.[48]

For the 12-month period ending December 31, 2011, the airport had 276,133 aircraft operations, an average of 757 per day: 93% air carrier, 6% general aviation and less than 1% military operations. In 2009, there were 75 aircraft based at the airport: 45 single engine, 19 multi-engine, and 11 jets.[49]

As of January 2014, Southwest Airlines, including its subsidiary AirTran Airways, represents approximately 71% of passengers followed by Delta Air Lines at 8%.

BWI is currently the busiest airport within the Baltimore–Washington area[50] with 11,067,317 boardings in 2011. This is ahead of Dulles International Airport at 11,043,829 enplanements and in front of Ronald Reagan National Airport with 9,053,004 enplanements. BWI serves the most domestic passengers in the Baltimore–Washington area while Dulles serves more international passengers.

On August 1, 2016, British Airways replaced the daily Boeing 767-300 with a daily Boeing 787, marking the first regularly-scheduled Dreamliner service to the airport.[51]

Top destinations

Busiest domestic routes from BWI (Sep 2015 – Aug 2016)[52]
Rank City Passengers Airline(s)
1 Atlanta, Georgia 801,000 Delta, Southwest, Spirit
2 Fort Lauderdale, Florida 607,000 JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit
3 Boston, Massachusetts 520,000 JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit
4 Orlando, Florida 513,000 JetBlue, Southwest, Spirit
5 Charlotte, North Carolina 420,000 American, Southwest
6 Detroit, Michigan 322,000 Delta, Southwest, Spirit
7 Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois 319,000 American, Spirit, United
8 Denver, Colorado 314,000 Southwest, United
9 Providence, Rhode Island 308,000 Southwest
10 Las Vegas, Nevada 303,000 Southwest, Spirit

Airline market share

Largest airlines at BWI (Sep 2015 – Aug 2016)[52]
Rank Airline Passengers Share
1 Southwest Airlines 16,266,000 70.51%
2 Delta Air Lines 1,825,000 7.91%
3 American Airlines 1,551,000 6.72%
4 Spirit Airlines 1,228,000 5.32%
5 United Airlines 831,000 3.60%

Annual traffic

Traffic by calendar year[53]
Passengers Change from previous year Aircraft operations Cargo
2006 20,698,967 266,790 252,413,171
2007 21,044,384 Increase1.67% 265,424 254,701,295
2008 20,488,881 Decrease2.64% 249,456 225,275,286
2009 20,953,615 Increase2.27% 245,522 221,302,348
2010 21,936,461 Increase4.69% 253,165 225,706,183
2011 22,391,785 Increase2.08% 258,475 237,568,354
2012 22,679,987 Increase1.29% 268,186 246,366,867
2013 22,498,353 Decrease0.80% 259,793 240,295,725
2014 22,312,676 Decrease0.83% 245,121 231,862,614
2015 23,823,532 Increase6.77% 246,424 257,240,742

Ground transportation

BWI was ranked one of the "Top 10 Easiest U.S. Airports to Get to" by in 2007 and has a light rail station located in its main terminal.[55]

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.

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.


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


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.[56]

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.[57]

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.[58]

Other facilities

Thomas A. Dixon Jr. Aircraft Observation Area
Type Observation Plaza
Location BWI Airport
1911 Dorsey Road
Glen Burnie, MD 21061
Coordinates 39°09′45″N 76°39′48″W / 39.162367°N 76.663221°W / 39.162367; -76.663221 (Thomas A. Dixon Jr. Aircraft Observation Area)
Area 50 acres (20 ha)
Operated by BWI Airport
Open All year

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.


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.[59] 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.


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  29. AN ACT concerning Baltimore-Washington International Airport and Other State Facilities, Roads, and Bridges – Naming FOR the purpose of renaming the Baltimore-Washington International Airport as the Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport; creating the Advisory Committee on the Naming of State Facilities, Roads, and Bridges; providing for the membership and the duties of the Committee; providing that expenditures to implement the funding for the implementation of this Act shall be as provided in the State budget; requiring the Maryland Aviation Commission to change certain signs to reflect the renaming of the airport; providing that letterhead, business cards, and other documents reflecting the renaming of the airport may not be used until all letterhead, business cards, and other documents already in print and reflecting the name of the airport prior to the effective date of this Act are used; prohibiting the expenditure of certain funds for certain purposes; making certain provisions of this Act subject to a certain contingency; and generally relating to the renaming of the Baltimore-Washington International Airport and the naming of the State Facilities, Roads, and Bridges. (PDF)
  30. Airlines | BWI to close main runways for paving - tribunedigital-baltimoresun
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