Seniors & Aging

Larger Bellingham airport makes it easier for seniors to travel

Allegiant and Alaska fly out of Bellingham International Airport, which has expanding from 27,000 square feet to 105,000 square feet. And it’s ideal for seniors – it’s all one level.
Allegiant and Alaska fly out of Bellingham International Airport, which has expanding from 27,000 square feet to 105,000 square feet. And it’s ideal for seniors – it’s all one level. The Bellingham Herald file

For those who have not visited Bellingham International Airport in the past five years or longer, surprise might be your first reaction.

The airport is larger – a lot larger, to say the least.

Statistics provided by Marie Duckworth, the airport’s landside supervisor, vividly show the effects of the commercial terminal expansion project, completed in 2014.

The terminal emerged from the project about four times as large, expanding from 27,000 square feet to 105,000 square feet. And it’s ideal for seniors – it’s all one level.

The budget, $38.6 million, is paid for by passenger facility charges and airport revenues – not local tax dollars.

The airport is served by Allegiant Airlines, which Duckworth noted is an “ultra low-cost carrier,” and Alaska Airlines, with its subsidiary Horizon Airlines, “traditional carriers.”

Access to the airport in north Bellingham is easy, beginning where Airport Drive (at the West Bakerview Road Exit 258 of Interstate 5) connects with Airport Way, which in turn becomes Mitchell Way.

There is plenty of seating all over the airport, which is divided between the areas at the front on Mitchell Way where people arrive and depart and the area at the back, used only by passengers who have been screened and by arriving passengers who have been screened at the airport from which they departed.

At the front of the airport on the north side is the 7,000-square-foot ticket lobby, with 20 ticket agent positions, a separate over-sized bag drop and a separate air cargo office operation.

Several car-rental counters are located near the baggage claim lobby on the south side of the building.

The 10,000-square-foot baggage claim lobby includes two bag claim devices, with a 160-bag capacity. It can serve 757, 737 and Q400 flights simultaneously. It’s a big change from the former 50 feet of bag slide and 50-bag capacity.

On the back side where screened passengers pass through, the gate lobby features eight aircraft gates and 15,000 square feet of seating space for 858 passengers, along with 4,000 square feet of concessions. These include a full-service bar and Scotty Browns restaurant, plus Halibut Henry’s “grab-and-go” food service and a gift shop with numerous Northwest-themed items.

Both expedited screening and general screening are available from the TSA (check with your carrier for details).

There are complete restrooms located on both sides. Especially popular with seniors using wheelchairs or walkers is the family restroom, which can be accessed at the same time by multiple people of any age.

The entire terminal area includes 2,790 public parking stalls. Parking is located in both the main lot, a walk of only a few minutes to the front of the terminal, and outlying lots with regular shuttle service.

“We are primarily a leisure destination airport,” says Duckworth, pointing out destinations include Las Vegas, Palm Springs, San Diego, Los Angeles, Phoenix/Mesa, Portland and Seattle.

 

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