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BWI Main Terminal and Concourses

Baltimore-Washington International Airport (BWI) is not only the hub airport for the state of Maryland, but also the main airport of the three international ones serving the Washington DC area.

It operates 85 direct destinations in 14 countries through 18 airlines, with Southwest Airlines having the largest number of operations and destinations. Among the destinations with more flight frequencies are Atlanta, Orlando, Boston, Fort Lauderdale, Tampa, Chicago, Miami, Denver, Charlotte, Detroit and Dallas, among others, totaling 69 domestic destinations. Among the international destinations, the most frequent are Cancun, San Juan de Puerto Rico, Montego Bay, Punta Cana, Reykjavik, Toronto and London.

The airport, whose official name is Thurgood Marshall, has a passenger terminal that is subdivided into five concourses (A, B, C, D, E) and two levels (upper and lower). These concourses form a sort of horseshoe shape, in the center of which is located a large hourly parking garage platform and transportation services.

Main Terminal BWI airport

Image from Youtube

Upper Level

The upper level of the main terminal building houses the ticketing and check-in counters, restaurants and cafes, and an observation gallery. Passengers can reach the upper level directly from the daily parking garage by crossing the elevated bridges or from the curbside of the lower level via the elevator or escalators. Access to the 4 security checkpoints is from the upper level, with 3 checkpoints available for concourses A, B and C and 1 for concourse D. Note that the post-security area of concourses D and E is not connected to concourses A, B and C.

Lower Level

Arrivals for all concourses are located on the lower level, with international arrivals located near concourse E.

Some cafes and stores are located on this level, along with the USO Lounge (in the baggage claim area of Concourse E). The lower level of the terminal can be accessed from the hourly parking garage via a subway tunnel, and ground transportation service is located outside the terminal buildings in designated areas.

Concourses

As mentioned above, BWI Airport is comprised of 5 concourses with boarding gates arranged A through E.

Concourse A

It is operated entirely by Southwest Airlines, through 11 gates (A1-A11). Concourse A has the most extensive food and beverage offerings of all. It is directly connected to Concourse B, so all gates A and B are accessible from the lower level.

Concourse B

It is also exclusive for Southwest Airlines use, through 14 gates (B2-B15). This concourse also has a good gastronomic offer, although it does not have a wide variety of stores, as its neighboring concourse A. It is directly connected to the latter from the lower level.

Concourse C

It has 14 gates (C1 to C14), located on the upper level. The airlines operating in this concourse are American Airlines, Southwest Airlines and Contour Airlines. Located on the same side of the terminal building, this concourse, as well as concourses A and B, can be accessed from any of the 3 security checkpoints. It has less gastronomic variety than A and B.

Concourse D

It houses 22 boarding gates: D1-D5, D7, D8, D10-D16, D20-D26 and D29. It is used by domestic flights not operated by Southwest Airlines or American Airlines, as well as by Air Canada. It is the concourse with the most retail and food outlets and has a VIP lounge (BWI Club) near gate D10.

Concourse E - International Terminal

It has 5 gates (E1, E3, E4, E6 and E8) and is located on the upper level. It is known as the International Terminal, since all international arrivals are handled here, but officially its name is Governor William Donald Schaefer International Terminal. It has only one newsstand and one restaurant, as it is directly connected to concourse D, where passengers will find a wide variety of stores and food. British Airways has a lounge in this concourse (Chesapeake Club Lounge). On the lower arrivals level, near baggage claim carousel 14, there is a USO lounge (exclusively for military personnel).

Connection between Terminals

The connection between the concourses is pedestrian. Passengers must walk from the main terminal to their concourse, and if connecting between Concourses A/B/C and Concourses D/E, they must walk back through security. BWI promotes its cardio walking trails around the airport (with defibrillators en route) and has 2 1-kilometer routes (about a 20-minute walk): the Terminal Loop is a circuit along the public side of the upper level (the area with white flooring before the security checkpoints), from the end of Concourse A to the end of Concourse E; while the Concourse A/B Loop runs through the secure area of Concourses A and B.

The BWI Courtesy Shuttle service is a free, high-frequency means of transportation to move between different locations around the airport.

Courtesy Shuttle routes:

  • Shuttle to/from parking: between the main terminal and the long-stay sectors, the Express Lot and the Daily Garage. Frequency: 10-15 minutes.
  • Amtrak/MARC Shuttle: Between the main terminal and the Amtrak/MARC Station. Frequency: 10-15 minutes (every 25 min. from 1:00 am to 5:00 am).
  • Shuttle to/from the rental car area: To pick up and drop off rental cars. Frequency: 8-10 minutes (every 25 min. from 1:00 am to 5:00 am).