BWI Airport Guide and 35 Layover Tips

The sleep score rating for Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) has improved significantly with the addition of Minute Suites. Despite the absence of designated sleep areas and an in-airport transit hotel, BWI remains a favorable choice for layover passengers.

The airport’s welcoming atmosphere is enhanced by the availability of Minute Suites, which provide private, comfortable spaces for rest, contributing to a more pleasant experience for travelers needing to rest between flights. This addition underscores BWI’s commitment to improving passenger comfort and convenience.

In this guide, you’ll find details of key amenities you need to take advantage of including details of the airport’s hours of operation with info on opening and closing hours. You’ll also find an overview of sleep, WiFi, showers, charging, currency exchange, and more.

Sleeping at BWI Airport:

At Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), several spots are particularly suitable for sleeping, each offering unique benefits.

The Airplay Zone in Terminal D is an excellent choice for travelers seeking soft surfaces, as it features cushioned benches and floors ideal for a quick nap, although the area remains well-lit and has ongoing announcements.

For those in search of armrest-free seating, the vicinity near Dunkin’ Donuts on the second floor is highly recommended; it provides a few rows of chairs with no armrests and convenient power outlets for device charging.

Additionally, gates C3 and C5 in Concourse C offer flat chairs without armrests and are equipped with charging stations, making them a quiet refuge for overnight stays.

Despite the constant bright lights and the presence of cleaning crews, these areas remain relatively undisturbed. For warmth and a more secluded spot, consider the vented grate area near the wooden benches across from security, which offers a surprising source of warmth from the vents below.

It’s advisable to bring a travel blanket, eye mask, and earplugs to mitigate the cold temperature and noise from nightly cleaning and maintenance activities, ensuring a more restful sleep.

Read our guide on sleeping at BWI Airport including Minute Suites option

Minute Suites Elevated BWI’s Sleep Score Rating

Minute Suites at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) provides a unique and convenient sleep option for travelers looking to rest between flights. Located airside in Concourse C, these private suites offer a quiet, comfortable space equipped with a daybed sofa, pillows, fresh blankets, and a sound-masking system to ensure a peaceful environment.

Each suite includes a work desk and high-speed internet access, making it suitable for both rest and productivity. Travelers can book suites for a minimum of one hour, with the option to extend as needed, making it an ideal solution for layovers or delays.

Additionally, Minute Suites provides amenities such as an alarm clock, television, and in-suite temperature control, enhancing the comfort and convenience for users. This facility is an excellent choice for passengers seeking a private, tranquil space to relax or work, enhancing their overall travel experience at BWI.

Showers:

BWI Airport does not have public shower facilities; however, travelers can access showers by paying to enter ROAM Fitness, a modern gym located in Concourse D. For a fee of $25, guests receive access to the gym, complimentary workout gear and shoes, and a 15-minute shower reservation, complete with provided toiletries. ROAM Fitness recently reopened in April 2024 after undergoing renovations and a change in ownership. This facility offers a convenient option for travelers looking to refresh and exercise during their layover.

Get details and book your shower here.

24/7 Dining Options:

At Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI), there are a few food options available 24/7 to accommodate travelers at any hour. The McDonald’s located in the A/B Food Court operates around the clock, offering a variety of fast-food items like burgers, fries, and chicken nuggets.

Additionally, Dunkin’ Donuts in the main terminal, situated behind the American Airlines ticket counters, is also open 24/7, providing coffee, donuts, and other snacks. These options ensure that travelers can find something to eat even during the late-night and early-morning hours​. Read more on BWI Airport’s website here.

Can you stay at BWI Overnight?

Yes, you can stay overnight at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI). The airport remains open 24 hours a day, but overnight stays come with certain considerations. While you can sleep in the airport, it’s important to know that security checkpoints typically close after the last flight and reopen around 3:30 AM, limiting access to some concourses during those hours.

For the best overnight experience, it’s recommended to find sleeping spots airside before security closes. Notable areas include the Airplay Zone in Terminal D, which offers soft benches and floors, and the seating near Dunkin’ Donuts on the second floor, known for its armrest-free chairs and nearby power outlets. Gates C3 and C5 in Concourse C also provide flat chairs without armrests and charging stations, making them suitable for rest.

Be prepared for bright lights and noise from cleaning crews, so bring an eye mask, earplugs, and a travel blanket or warm layer, as temperatures can be quite cold. While overnight amenities are limited, vending machines and some 24-hour food options are available. Overall, with a bit of planning, you can have a reasonably comfortable overnight stay at BWI.

Is BWi Airport Open 24 Hours?

Yes, Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) is open 24 hours. However, while the airport itself remains operational around the clock, certain areas and services may have limited hours.

For instance, security checkpoints typically close after the last flight of the night and reopen early in the morning, around 3:30 AM. This can affect access to certain concourses and amenities during the overnight hours. Additionally, while some food and retail outlets may be closed overnight, vending machines and a few 24-hour options are available to cater to late-night travelers.

It’s also important to note that sleeping arrangements might be affected by ongoing cleaning and maintenance activities, which are common during the night. Therefore, it’s advisable to plan accordingly, especially if you intend to stay overnight at the airport.

When Does BWI Open?

Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI) resumes full operations at 3:30 AM, when security checkpoints reopen. While the airport itself is open 24 hours a day, certain services and areas within the airport have specific operating hours.

For instance, security checkpoints typically close after the last flight of the night and reopen early in the morning. This impacts access to various concourses and amenities overnight.

Additionally, many restaurants, shops, and services within the airport operate on a limited schedule and may not be available during late-night hours. Travelers should plan accordingly, especially if they have late-night or early-morning flights, to ensure a smooth experience at the airport.

Duty-Free at BWI:

Duty-Free and Shopping at BWI Airport are conveniently located airside. You can find duty-free shops in the B/C Connector, which are open from 6:00 AM to 9:00 PM, and in Concourse E, operating from 5:00 AM to 10:00 PM. Additionally, various retail shops and nine Hudson News locations are available throughout both the landside and airside areas of the terminal, offering a range of products and travel essentials.

Overview of Lounges at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)

The Club BWI

Location: Airside, Concourse D, near gate D10

Access:

  • Pay at the Door: $45
  • Prepaid Lounge Pass: Available for purchase in advance
  • Lounge Membership Programs: Accepted, including Priority Pass and LoungeKey

Features:
The Club BWI offers a comfortable space for all passengers, regardless of airline or class of service. Amenities include complimentary snacks and beverages, Wi-Fi, workstations, and a quiet area to relax before your flight. It’s an excellent option for travelers looking for a peaceful retreat in Concourse D.

USO Lounge

Location: Lower Level, International Pier, beside Baggage Claim 14

Access:

  • Eligibility: Free for active members of the US military and their families

Features:
The USO Lounge provides a welcoming environment specifically for active-duty military personnel and their families. This lounge includes comfortable seating, snacks, beverages, Wi-Fi, and a space to rest and relax. It’s designed to offer a respite for military members in transit, ensuring they have a supportive and comfortable experience at BWI. Read more about USO Lounges here.

These lounges provide valuable services for different traveler groups, enhancing the overall airport experience by offering convenience, comfort, and amenities tailored to the needs of their guests.

35 Tips to Survive BWI Layover

Tip #1: The Airplay Zone in Terminal D is a good spot for a nap with soft benches and floors. However, be prepared for constant music and announcements, so bring earplugs or noise-canceling headphones.

Tip #2: If you need food late at night, concourses A, B, and C have options, but they can be quite cold due to strong air conditioning. Always carry a warm layer or blanket.

Tip #3: For comfortable lying down, look for benches near Dunkin’ Donuts on the second floor. These have no armrests and are close to power outlets.

Tip #4: Avoid the USO lounge if you’re looking for comfortable seating; the chairs are known to be very stiff and uncomfortable. Consider bringing a travel pillow for extra support.

Tip #5: For a quick meal, check out the Wellfound Foods vending machine in Concourse A6-16, which offers real sandwiches and hard-boiled eggs.

Tip #6: If staying overnight, be aware that the main terminal and concourses A, B, and C are often cold and noisy with cleaning crews. Pack earplugs and a warm layer.

Tip #7: There is a warm vented grate in the seating area across from security. It’s a good spot to lie down and stay warm if you’re stuck landside.

Tip #8: Expect bright lights throughout the night. Bringing an eye mask can help block out the light and improve your sleep.

Tip #9: If you’re landside overnight, be cautious as the area can feel unsafe due to the presence of homeless people. It’s safer to move airside once security opens.

Tip #10: For a quieter spot, try to find the nooks near gates C3 and C5. These areas have flat chairs without armrests and charging stations.

Tip #11: If security is closed, plan to be in line early when it reopens at 3:30 AM to avoid the morning rush.

Tip #12: The restrooms in Terminal A are often not clean or well-equipped. Use facilities in other terminals if possible.

Tip #13: If you need assistance or information, it’s best to look up phone numbers for lounges or services ahead of time as on-site staff may not always be helpful.

Tip #14: Overnight construction noise is common, especially near concourses A and B. Noise-canceling headphones can be very helpful.

Tip #15: For a more restful experience, consider booking a nearby hotel. Many hotels close to BWI offer shuttle services and can provide a more comfortable overnight stay.

Additional Tips for Sleeping at Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)

Tip #16: If you’re looking for food options in the middle of the night, McDonald’s in Concourse D opens at 5 AM. Get there early to avoid long lines.

Tip #17: To avoid bright lights and noise, consider using a sleeping mask and earplugs. This can help create a more restful sleeping environment.

Tip #18: For charging your devices, look for charging ports underneath benches near the gates. Having a fully charged device can be crucial for staying entertained or updated on flight information.

Tip #19: If you find a spot with no armrests, try to settle there early in the evening, as these are popular and tend to fill up quickly.

Tip #20: Security may close some areas overnight. Plan to be near gates that allow access to restrooms and amenities even during late hours.

Tip #21: Keep your belongings close and secure, especially when sleeping. A small travel lock can be useful for securing zippers on your bags.

Tip #22: Be prepared for security to conduct noise tests or safety drills during the night, which can be disruptive.

Tip #23: For a quieter environment, avoid areas near high-traffic gates or food courts, which tend to be busier and noisier.

Tip #24: If you need assistance finding a place to rest, airport staff can sometimes provide suggestions on quieter areas.

Tip #25: The temperature in the airport can fluctuate, so dress in layers to adjust to both warm and cold areas.

Tip #26: If you’re traveling with children, the Airplay Zone in Terminal D can be a good place to let them burn off energy before settling down for the night.

Tip #27: For those who prefer more privacy, consider using a travel blanket or shawl to create a makeshift barrier or cover.

Tip #28: If you’re concerned about noise from cleaning crews, try to find a spot away from main walkways or entrances.

Tip #29: For a better sleep, avoid drinking too much caffeine or sugary drinks late at night, as they can keep you awake.

Tip #30: Be mindful of airport announcements and gate changes. Keep an eye on the information screens to stay updated on your flight status.

Tip #31: Bring a neck pillow for added comfort, especially if you end up sleeping in a sitting position.

Tip #32: Consider using a lightweight travel blanket or a large scarf, which can serve as both a blanket and a pillow.

Tip #33: If you’re worried about early morning crowds, try to position yourself near your departure gate to avoid rushing through security checks.

Tip #34: Always have a backup plan in case your preferred sleeping spot is occupied or uncomfortable. Knowing where the alternative spots are can save time and stress.

Tip #35: For an extra layer of security, use a luggage strap or lock to secure your bags to your seat or bench, especially if you’re sleeping.

Image of Nathan Kip Rotich

Nathan helps travelers find the most comfortable sleep setups during layovers, from cozy airport hotels to futuristic sleep pods. His insights aim to transform layovers into rejuvenating sleepcations, offering travelers an alternative to costly hotels and uncomfortable benches.