Bermuda Airport (BDA): Six things you need to know

July 6, 2016 | By More
Baggage carousel at Bermuda Airport

Baggage carousel at Bermuda Airport

Bermuda Airport (renamed L.F. Wade International Airport in 2007) has some interesting features.

With my latest check-in, I just recorded my 200th airport check-in on Swarm (Foursquare)! Because so many airport facilities are boringly similar, the ones that are different tend to stand out. A few observations about the L.F. Wade International Airport, also called Bermuda Airport:

  1. The vintage airport has an interesting history

First built between 1941-1943 as a joint US Army/Royal Air Force base, Bermuda Airport is now operated by the Bermuda Government. In the past, it served as both a US Air Force and then a US Navy base, hosting both civil and military aircraft. It was also a NASA Space Shuttle launch abort site.

The airport has the feel of a simple-to-navigate island airport with gracious staff— who are quick to smile and greet you as reggae-type music plays over the loud speakers. You’ll see some retro throwbacks like the banks of old-fashioned payphones on the walls at the gates.

Airport phone at BDA

Airport phone at BDA

Only one runway of the three original ones, the longest of the three (about 9,700 feet in length) remains in use.

  1. One of the two restaurants is unexpected: An Italian Trattoria

The “When in Rome” adage doesn’t apply here! After getting over the shock of seeing a glass counter with paninis at the Trattoria Caffe, I ordered a tasty one with mortadella and provolone.

Trattoria Caffe at Bermuda Airport

Trattoria Caffe at Bermuda Airport

The aftershock: Consistent with the high cost-of-living in Bermuda and generally high cost of airport food, the sandwich and two cups of coffee were over $15.

    1. Video monitors with dynamic advertisements hang over the faucets in the restroom

In a nod to modern technology, there are TV screens and some power outlets at the gates, but even frequent travelers drop their jaws in the restrooms. Video screens are attached to the water faucets with dynamic advertising that changes as you wash your hands.

America's Cup 2017 ad on faucet

America’s Cup 2017 ad on faucet

In addition to ads for hotels and local shops, one promoted the 2017 America’s Cup (which will be held in Bermuda). I’ve never seen anything else like this in any other airport around the world.

  1. The airport allows U.S. citizens to pre-clear customs and immigration in Bermuda

Thus, flights arriving in the U.S. are treated as domestic flights. This can save long lines upon arrival home but passengers may have to leave a few extra minutes prior to departure from Bermuda. U.S. Customs agents are also uber-friendly, seemingly happy to be assigned here.

Bermuda Preclearance

Bermuda Preclearance

  1. You won’t find any car rental counters

And you won’t find rental cars off the airport grounds either. That’s because foreign visitors can’t rent cars in Bermuda. The combination of driving on the left-hand side (to which many visitors aren’t accustomed); narrow two-lane roads; and motorbikes zipping around the curves make it too dangerous.

“If you people rented cars here, you’ll kill us all,” explained one taxi driver. (Thus, taxis and public buses are abundant at the airport).

Baggage claim area at BDA

Baggage claim area at BDA

  1. The airport has no jetways

You’ll have to use steps when boarding and disembarking from flights, which can be treacherous in heavy rains. When strong winds blow, you may have to sit tight, because the crew won’t be able to open the aircraft door. In fact, this is one of the reasons that plans are being discussed to build a new airport.

All in all:

While admittedly a bit dated, there is something charming about this storied airport with a leaky roof—perhaps, it’s the people who staff it and make it work.


A few other things to know about Bermuda Airport (BDA):

  • The airport is open 24 hours a day.
  • It’s located about 7 miles from main city of Hamilton, about a 15-20 minute drive.
  • Direct flights between Bermuda and U.S. gateways depart from Miami, Philadelphia, Washington, D.C, Atlanta, New York-JFK, Newark, and seasonally from Boston and Charlotte. International flights fly directly between Bermuda and both Toronto-Pearson and London-Gatwick.
  • There’s no chance to use TSA Pre-✔ at departure for Bermuda. In fact, you’ll have to take off your shoes and may be subject to random checked baggage searches.
  • The duty-free shop has an abundance of spirits, especially rums and ginger beer (the essential ingredients for the national drink, a Dark ‘n Stormy.

On Borrowed Time (Recent TV documentary on Bermuda Airport on YouTube)



IF YOU GO

Bermuda Airport (L.F. Wade International Airport)

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Comments (2)

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  1. Laura says:

    Sounds like the friendly and gracious staffing change the feel from run down to charming.

  2. Sheryk says:

    Such interesting facts, especially the restroom ads. Hope I get to visit one day soon – haven’t been there since my college days!

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