Good news, Southwest flyers: BWI to get major upgrade

Big changes are coming at one of Southwest Airlines’ biggest hubs. Maryland state officials announced major upgrades this week planned for Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). The changes should make for an improved experience for passengers waiting for a flight, not to mention while moving between the airport’s concourses and when waiting for their luggage.

Maryland Governor Larry Hogan signed off Wednesday on a $332.5 million package of projects for BWI, which will be the most significant upgrade to the terminal in the airport’s history, officials said.

The projects include a major upgrade to Southwest’s hub operations, including a new baggage system that should mean a more efficient baggage check and claim experience for passengers. That is fairly significant when you consider Southwest’s lenient checked bag policy, and the fact that the airline represents around 70% of BWI’s traffic.

Related: Practical Pointers: Take this photo next time you check a bag

A Southwest Airlines plane at the gate at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). SEAN CUDAHY/THE POINTS GUY

Many passengers will also notice the improvements that will be made airside at the terminal. The work includes a direct connection between concourses A and B, which should make it a lot easier for Southwest passengers to travel from one gate to another. Keep in mind, as a major hub for the carrier, BWI is a key airport not just for departures and arrivals among passengers traveling in and out of the greater D.C./Baltimore area, but for connections as well.

The contract also calls for improvements to gate areas on the concourses, as well as improved concessions and shopping areas. So, whether you’re moving between gates, grabbing something to eat or sitting and waiting for your flight, it should be a more pleasant experience.

Simply put, this will mean a major transformation on the airport concourses, and will “improve the passenger experience for decades to come,” Hogan said in a statement.

Related: BWI makes TPG’s list of 10 airports with great public transportation options


Renderings shared with TPG by BWI officials show the improved gate areas and concessions area passengers will enjoy once the work is complete.


The work comes as Southwest is planning to bolster its footprint at its biggest mid-Atlantic hub. The airport is collaborating with the airline on a new, 27-acre $135 million maintenance facility that will be able to accommodate up to three of the airline’s signature Boeing 737 aircraft.

Having a major maintenance facility on-site is key at an airline hub, simplifying operations in the event that a plane encounters mechanical problems.

Passengers should see these projects completed between late 2025 and the summer of 2026.

BWI was the nation’s 22nd busiest airport in terms of passenger enplanements in 2021, and the busiest in the greater D.C. metropolitan area, according to data from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA). The airport saw about 2.5 million enplanements more than Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) and about two million more than Dulles International Airport (IAD).