This is the second installment in my visit to The Bahamas. For Part 1, covering my inbound travel “experience” and amazing first-night welcome, click here.
Our first scheduled event for the day, and main reason for my visit, was a tour of the brand-new Lynden Pindling International Airport International Terminal. No, this isn’t the terminal you’ll use for U.S.-bound flights; those operate out of their own (although also very new) terminal, which has a CBP Pre-Clearance facility. Rather, the new terminal supports all non-U.S. international flights, primarily to Canada and the U.K., and also flights to the “Family Islands” of The Bahamas.
After the brief drive from the Baha Mar complex to the airport (about half as long as the trip from Atlantis – a major selling point for Baha Mar) I was met in the new check-in area by Vernice Walkine, CEO of the Nassau Airport Development Authority (which operates the airport) as well as some of her staff.
The new $84 million facility is beautiful; natural daylight keeps the terminal bright without much need for electric lights. The flooring pays homage to the local culture, with pieces of conch shell visible as part of the material. The entire facility is cooled with a geothermal system which draws chilled water from a 300′ deep well, a huge benefit given the cost of generating electricity in The Bahamas (primarily with imported fossil fuels).
The new airport has some features that are really unique. The terminal even has a Wendy’s drive-thru built right in to the front of the building!
Art features are also prominently displayed throughout the terminal. Up on the main concourse, there are some passenger-friendly features such as a children’s play area (which I greatly appreciate, as a parent of two toddlers) and an outdoor sundeck/patio with great views of the tarmac.
While the new terminal will allow for a 50% expansion in passenger traffic in the future, the entire facility is built with flexibility in mind. Check-in counters share common equipment and signage that is changeable as demand dictates. The same goes for gates; which also lowers costs for one-off airlines that can’t support a permanent physical presence at the airport.
After touring the main concourse (which, while not needed yet, is designed to accommodate the Airbus A380 and Boeing 747), we proceeded down on to the tarmac. Of course, for an AvGeek, this was the best part of the tour.
Because of all the island-hoppers, such as Bahamasair (which we have previously reviewed) and Pineapple Air, there are many interesting planes to check out.
There was even a flight departing to Havana, Cuba; as an American from Colorado, that’s definitely not something I’ve seen before.
Everyone I encountered, from passengers to crew to staff, seemed to be enthralled with the new terminal. Standing on the apron presented the stark contrast of the sparkling-new LPIA International Terminal, and the just-closed prior facility. The old terminal looked like something you’d imagine from an old movie; airport officials still haven’t decided what to do with the building and/or site. For the time being, the airport’s executive offices are still located there.
Nassau’s new Lynden Pindling International Airport (and not just the newest International Terminal, but the US-Preclearance and Arrivals Terminals as well) make up a beautiful facility that is finally befitting of a jewel-like destination such as The Bahamas. It was a real pleasure to get to have free reign of a new airport as well!