Anyone flown Int'l into BWI? Help needed....

The little flodnaks (8 and 2) and I will be flying to the States in about a month. (The fella has work obligations and will be joining us later.) Because the route we normally fly has been suspended indefinitely, we’ll be taking Icelandair to BWI. My parents will be picking us up, so as soon as I get through Customs I’ll have help, but in the international area I’m on my own.

Can anyone who has flown into BWI on an international flight remember the arrival? What I mostly need to know, to work out the practical details of getting through this as painlessly as possible, are these things:

Approximately how far is it from the gates, through immigration, baggage claim and customs, to the waiting lounge? I just need to know if it’s “a few minutes’ walk, not counting lines”, or “quite a hike”, or something in between.
Are there baggage carts at the claim area? Enough that I’m likely to find one if I need it?
Any surprises, like lots of stairs or anything?

Thanks so much for any help!

Last did it years ago, on something called World Airlines, IIRC, from London (again, IIRC). I think you can safely presume that you are not the first international arrival, and such things as stairs and trolleys have been taken into consideration by the powers that be, and you will emerge alive. Work on the assumption that it will be a quarter-mile walk from plane to immigration/bag claim/customs, and you might be in for a pleasant surprise and find it’s much less. The fact that I don’t remember much about it would indicate that
a) it was a long time ago
b) I wasn’t traveling with kids
c) it wasn’t particularly bad

I do remember a very convenient bus service to downtown DC, FWIW.

Yes, you can take an express Metro bus to the Greenbelt Metro station for just $2.10 now (it comes every 40 minutes).

Count on 20-30 minutes for customs, but otherwise BWI isn’t a hassle to navigate. The international arrivals area is on the lower level (Here’s a map, if that helps; click the View Lower Level to check out int’l arrivals).

One more thing: since there’s no curbside parking, you can park for free for the first 30 minutes in the parking garages – which is quite helpful if someone’s coming to pick you up.

Hie thee to and you’ll discover much to your delight.

There’s a map of the terminal with the services indicated by those international symbols. The customs inspection area is indicated by a figure rifling through an open suitcase. The customs inspection area is in the lower level of what appears to be Concourse E and is to the other side of the USO from Baggage Claim stations 10 and 11.

For the last month for which statistics are posted, the site indicates over 21 000 international passengers from 34 daily international aircraft arrivals deplaned. That could mean the customs counter’ll be a tad crowded but not unbearably so. You’ll be completing the paperwork in the air prior to arrival anyway. Just be sure to have all the passports available as you go through the counter.

Hope this helps and also that y’all enjoy your trip!

Shall we arrange a Dopefest somewhere in the Baltimore-Washington area when you get here?

Heh, Wendell, I’ll be further north, in Pennsylvania, and I don’t know what my schedule will look like. So right now I can’t say yes, but I can say I’m flattered by the suggestion!

Hemlock, I don’t know if you were trying to come across as comforting or patronizing or what, but I feel compelled to respond. I’ve travelled quite a bit with the kids, sometimes alone, sometimes with my husband. The one thing I’ve learned is that you can’t assume that airport designers have had the convenience of the travelling public in mind, and most especially not the convenience of the parent with small children in mind. So I like to know what’s coming, and prepare, to keep myself sane and the kids happy. I don’t want to deal with an airport tantrum myself and I certainly don’t want to inflict one on hundreds if not thousands of innocent bystanders.

Thanks for the help, everyone! I still seem to have a mental block against understanding that map for some reason… and I’m usually a pretty good map-reader… but it does look like the international section is relatively small, which is good. And on one floor, which is even better, since then I can use the umbrella stroller to contain the little guy (and not feel guilty about making longer lines at the elevator for someone who can’t choose to leave the wheels at home). I can remember Newark’s old international terminal, with an escalator down to baggage claim and a permanent line for the dinky elevator… not fun with a baby.

Thanks again, and here’s hoping the kids love flying! :slight_smile:

OK, so what about an impromptu DopeFest in PA…?

Oh, and make sure to vist the family doctor just a day or so before flying, to have the kiddo’s ears checked for infection. Nothing sucks worse than flying with an ear infection, and flying alongside a kid that had an undetected ear infection is almost as bad…

Hmmm… I’ll be in Lancaster. Are there enough Dopers in the area to make for a DopeFest? I’d love to if we could!

Maybe we could get Scylla to show up and do his quarterly Amish rant as a stage act :smiley:

Better double-check that map again. The baggage claim and customs counters are in the lower level.

Damn, you’re right. Okay, the kid walks…

As for Lancaster, well, there’s a thundering herd o’ Dopers within an easy drive:
Zappo, Wonko, Jonathan Chance, Nacho, Guinistasia, hedra, epeepunk, WeirdDave, Ginger, RTFirefly, 'Punha, Geobabe (maybe), and of course, myself.

I’ve definitely forgotten a few, please don’t flame me too mercilessly…

MPSIMS thread time?