Bradley International Airport to open new, $210 million transportation center as summer air travel increases; tips for smoother start to vacations

WINDSOR LOCKS — With the summer air travel season in full swing, Bradley International Airport said Tuesday it will open its new, $210 million transportation center in mid-July, concentrating all its rental car businesses in one place and adding 850 new parking spaces.

“It’s a very exciting addition to the airport,” Kevin A. Dillon, executive director of the Connecticut Airport Authority, said during a press conference at Bradley announcing a new nonstop route on Frontier Airlines to Las Vegas. “It’s going to house all the rental car companies that today are scattered in and around the airport.”

Dillon said the transportation center, which will open July 13, will allow passengers to walk from the terminal to pick up rental cars, rather than having to hop on a bus juggling luggage.

There also will be dedicated spaces for mass transit options, particularly buses. The center also was designed to accommodate future rail service to Bradley from the Hartford Line.

A ribbon-cutting ceremony is planned for June 30.

Frontier will begin flying nonstop daily from Bradley to Las Vegas on Aug. 7, joining JetBlue, which has offered the route since 2020, and Breeze Airways, which will launch the route Sept. 7.

Frontier, which returned service to Bradley in 2019 after an eight-year absence, will fly to seven destinations from Bradley. With the addition of Las Vegas, they include Atlanta, Cancun, Denver, Orlando, Raleigh Durham and San Juan. The recently announced Dallas-Fort Worth is not yet booking and Miami has been temporarily suspended.

Frontier’s new route comes a week after Air Canada resumed flying out of Bradley and Breeze launched six new, previously announced destinations.

Dillon said Bradley is expecting a “heavy summer travel period” at Connecticut’s largest airport which could match — or even exceed — pre-pandemic levels between now and Labor Day.

The recovery is driven by leisure travelers, who put off vacations during the height of COVID-19, Dillon said. Business travel, he said, is still lagging but is showing signs of strengthening.

Bradley expects to see 10,000 passengers a day, flying out of Bradley this summer, Dillon said.

On Tuesday, Bradley offered these tips for a smooth, less stressful start to a vacation. For starters, face masks are no longer required, though the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention still recommends wearing them during travel, and some airlines may still require them.

“We’re expecting people to be at the airport 90 minutes in advance of their departure and that means being at the ticket counter 90 minutes [ahead of time], Dillon said. “If you do that, you’ll have no problems navigating through Bradley Airport, and you’ll likely have some time enjoy our concessions.”

“It’s very disconcerting if you get to the airport and then you have to figure out, ‘Do I go to the parking garage? Do I use parking area? Do I park off-site?’,” Dillon said.

More information available at https://parkbradleyairport.com

Bradley now offers the option of ordering food before arriving at the airport and the opportunity to skip waiting in line.

Wait times with pre-check offered by the Transportation Security Administration can be under five minutes, compared to 15-20 minutes with standard screening, or longer during busy travel times, according to Bill Csontos, federal security director for TSA Connecticut.

“It’s a much shorter line,” Csontos said. [You’ll be able to] “keep your shoes on, light outer clothing and you’ll be able to keep all of your property in your bag.

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Csontos recommends signing up online for TSA pre-check at least two weeks before a flight because it will require an appointment at Bradley’s TSA enrollment center.

The cost is $85 for five years, Csontos said.

“Countless times, we see people who repurpose bags from the gym or firing range and they forget things are inside,” Csontos said. “When you come through, and we see it through the X-ray, it’s too late.

Larger water bottles are commonly detected, but only bottles holding 3.4 fluid ounces are allowed. One exception: bottles of sanitizer containing up to 12 ounces are permitted.

Csontos advised fully emptying bags before packing, going through every storage pocket.

State police dogs, Csontos said, have been trained to assist with passenger screening and can help shorten wait times in line.

Kenneth R. Gosselin can be reached at kgosselin@courant.com

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