At Last…Duty Free (in Terminal E)!


Finally, I had the chance to actually shop at the Duty Free shop in an airport!  Leaving the Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport on Sunday night, I was in the unique position of being able to take advantage of the “great” prices. 

What I found was quite impressive; I bought a liter each of Maker’s Mark and Kahlua.  For the uninitiated, Maker’s Mark is a superb small-batch bourbon whiskey made at a small distillery in Loretto, Kentucky, which I had the pleasure of visiting several years ago; it is perhaps best known for its squat bottles sealed with red wax.  Kahlua is a sweet, thick Mexican coffee-flavoured liqueur; while that might not sound like my kind of thing, it is a critical ingredient in the White Russian (and, for that matter, the entire Russian family of cocktails), of Big Lebowski fame (interestingly, Wikipedia tells me that a white russian with a spash of soda added is known as a Colorado Bulldog for regular or Colorado Greyhound for diet). 

So, what’s the point?  The prices!  I paid $26 for the Maker’s Mark and $19 for the Kahlua; the UK prices are £27.65 for the Maker’s Mark and £23.34 for the Kahlua (from Sainsbury’s, a primary mid-range supermarket chain).  So, I paid $45 for £51 worth of stuff…not bad in and of itself, but consider that £51 in today’s market is almost $77!!!

Can I also take this opportunity to mention BWI’s international terminal E – officially the Governor William Donald Schaefer International Terminal for you Baltimorons out there.  It opened in 1997 with reasonable fanfare at a cost of $140 million. 

Nice, modern, and EMPTY

However, it is UNUSED – which, ironically, makes it a pretty pleasant place, with a 2-second security line.  I was on the only honest-to-goodness international flight – the single daily British Airways flight to/from London Heathrow.  Beyond that, the terminal is used for 4 daily flights to Toronto on Air Canada (which is kind of like cheating, I think) plus a handful of fairly sporadic flights to the Carribbean – Cancun on AirTran and a few USA3000 vacation destinations.  A five-hour look on the airport’s website shows just two departures in that time from the very nice 6-gate concourse.  However, for better or worse, the terminal has found another client – the Air Mobility Command, which flies active service troops to worldwide destinations (there were about 5 flights on the board for Sunday night when I was there). 

So, ultimately, the terminal was a near-complete waste of public money – and I say that as a big gov’t Democrat!  The terminal has hosted a few other international operations since its birth, but Washington Dulles remains the larger region’s international gateway, and perhaps BWI shouldn’t have tried to compete with that. 

Finally, I can’t talk about this without mentioning that this International Terminal is also home to what is without a doubt the nation’s worst local rail transit service to an airport – the Baltimore Light Rail.  I say this not only because the whole service is lousy and slow as hell, but the airport service is 20 min weekday peak, 30 min off-peak and weekends, with Sunday service from just 10:30am to 8:30pm.

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Posted on 29/06/2010, in Logistics, Transit, travel and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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