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Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport is an international commercial airport serving the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area in the United Statesmarker. It is commonly called BWI, BWI Airport or BWI-Marshall, BWI being an initialism for "Baltimore/Washington International" and the facility's IATA Airport Code. The airport is located in Linthicummarker, Marylandmarker, a census-designated place in northern unincorporated Anne Arundel Countymarker, about 10 miles (16 km) south of Baltimoremarker and 30 miles (48 km) northeast of Washington, D.C.marker It is named after Thurgood Marshall, a Baltimore native and the first African American to serve on the Supreme Court of the United Statesmarker. BWI is a focus city for Southwest Airlinesmarker and a secondary hub for AirTran Airways. 20.49 million passengers passed through BWI in 2008, down 2.6% from 2007's record 21.04 million, making it the United States' 24th busiest airport.


Planning for a new airport on 3,200 acres (13 kmĀ²) to serve the Baltimore/Washington area began just after the end of World War II, and ground was broken in 1947. Located near Friendship Church in Anne Arundel County, Maryland, Friendship International Airport was dedicated on June 24, 1950, by President Harry Truman. Regular commercial service started the following month. Jet service started in 1957 when the first Boeing 707s were placed in service.

The State of Marylandmarker, through the Maryland Department of Transportation (MDOT), purchased Friendship International Airport from the City of Baltimoremarker 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.

The airport was renamed Baltimore/Washington International Airport in 1973. However, the IATA code remained as "BAL" because "BWI" was already used by another airport until 1982 when it was changed to "BWI". The new name was part of an effort to attract passengers from the Washington-area travel market.

The first phase of BWI 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.

The passenger terminal renovation program was complete in 1979, the most dramatic work of the airport's modernization. The BWI terminal more than doubled in size to 14.58 acres; the number of gate positions increased from 20 to 27. The total cost of project was $70 million. To continue the work, the BWI Development Council was established to support initiatives for airport development.

The BWI Rail Stationmarker opened in 1980, providing a rail connection to passengers on the busy Northeast Corridor though Amtrak. BWI became the first airport in the U.S. to be served by a dedicated intercity rail station. In particular, the station provided relatively easy transit access to Washington, D.C., something Washington Dulles International Airportmarker currently lacks. In the late 1990s, a new international terminal (Concourse E) 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. Air Jamaica and British Airways have had a presence at BWI for many years. AerLingus, Air Aruba, Air Greenland, El Al, Ghana Airways, Icelandair, KLM, and Mexicana previously flew to BWI. Military flights, operated by AMC, continue to have a significant presence at BWI.

For much of the 1990s, BWI was a major hub for US Airways, but that airline's financial difficulties in the wake of the dot-com bust and the September 11 attacks forced it to significantly 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 Airlinesmarker' arrival in September 1993 and subsequent expansion in the early 2000s. Southwest is now the airport's largest carrier, accounting for 51.90% of passengers carried in 2008. In terms of daily departures BWI is now Southwest's 4th most-served destination. Other major airlines with a significant presence at the airport are AirTran (13.98%), Delta Air Lines (7.12%), US Airways (6.48%) and United Airlines (5.74%).

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 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 Courtmarker justice, who grew up in Baltimoremarker.

The more recent renaming has not resulted in a change to the IATA and ICAO locater codes.

Destinations with direct service from BWI

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.


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.

Concourses A/B
Concourse C
Concourse D
*Note: All international arrivals from non pre-cleared destinations are handled at Concourse E.
Concourse E
*Officially called the Governor William Donald Schaefer International Terminal.
*The Air Mobility Command also has a post in Concourse E flying active service troops out to worldwide destinations.

Airlines and destinations

New Southwest Airlines ticket counter in the Concourse A-B expansion
Passengers wait in Terminal C for a storm to pass
International terminal (Pier E)
Baggage claim area at the Baltimore/Washington International Airport.

Airline lounges

  • British Airways operates a British Airways Chesapeake Club Lounge in Concourse E, near entrance to the concourse. This facility, while operated by British Airways, is a common-use facility available to passengers of all international concourse airlines.
  • USO operates a lounge on the lower level of the Terminal between Concourses D and E for United States Military personnel and their families.


For the 12-month period ending December 31, 2008, the airport had 277,662 aircraft operations, an average of 761 per day: 90% air carrier, 10% general aviation and less than 1% military operations. There were 86 aircraft based at the airport: 58 single engine, 16 multi-engine, and 12 jets.

Car rental

BWI has a consolidated rental car facility located ten minutes from the terminal. A complimentary shuttle carries rental car customers between the facility and the arrivals area of the airport terminal. The airport is served by eight rental car companies.


BWI was ranked one of the "Top 10 Easiest U.S. Airports to Get to" by in 2007
and is one of a small  number of airports with a light rail station in the main terminal.


BWI Rail Stationmarker is located about a mile from the airport terminal; a free shuttle bus brings passengers to and from the train station and airport terminal. The station is served by Amtrak Northeast Corridor trains and, on weekdays, by the MARC Penn Line. Travel time by train is about ten minutes to Baltimoremarker's Penn Stationmarker and thirty-five minutes to Union Stationmarker in Washington, D.C.marker 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 Countymarker, Baltimore Citymarker, 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.


Bus service between BWI and the Greenbeltmarker station of the Washington Metromarker and MARC Camden Line is provided by WMATA's Metrobus on Route B30 every 40 minutes 6am-10pm weekdays and 9am-10pm on weekends.

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 Stopmarker. When the Light Rail is not in service, buses operate to Downtown Baltimore.

Howard Transit's Silver route operates between BWI and The Mall in Columbiamarker hourly at most times except overnight.

Annapolis Transit's Route C-60 operates between BWI and Annapolismarker.


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


External links

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