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.
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.