When the first flight landed in Barbados back in 1939, the airport, then known as 'Seawell', was nothing more than a grassy airfield, with a shed as an arrivals hall.
Today, after several multiple million dollar upgrades Grantley Adams International (BGI) is now a showpiece and the gateway for the half a million tourists who fly in each year.
The airport welcomes direct flights daily from all over the world, but primarily from the:
» United States of America
» United Kingdom and
» Neighboring Caribbean islands.
When British Airways flew the Concorde, Barbados was the only English Caribbean country to regularly welcome the supersonic airliner. The flight from the UK to Barbados on Concorde took a mere four hours, compared with nine on a regular commercial airliner.
When Concorde was retired, Barbados became the only Caribbean country to be given one of the four aircrafts, which now forms the centerpiece of a new tourist attraction, 'Barbados Concorde Experience'.
From 2004 - 2009, Grantley Adams International has undergone its latest US $150 million upgrade. It provided more than a 50% increase in space for Immigration and Customs processing, a Baggage reclaim area that is almost twice its original size, improved check-in facilities equipped with new technology, a brand new arrivals hall, and a departure lounge that offers an increased level of comfort and easy access to a new retail concourse.
The airport has enjoyed a complete overhaul in both design and layout, with a complete refurbishment of all of the interior fixture and fittings. The new upgraded airport is stylish with cool stone flooring and flat screen display systems for up-to-date flight arrival and departure information.
Already there are some new food and beverage options including a bar, gourmet coffee shop and fast food, including chicken and burgers when you need to grab something quickly.
Even the car park has been upgraded with an electronic system replacing the old booths with a cashier on exit. Today, when you enter the car park a machine hands you a card, which you take with you and use to pay for your stay at one of the kiosks in the terminal. You place the card into one of the exit machines to leave the car park.
When all the current work is done, Barbados Grantley Adams International airport will also have four new passenger boarding bridges and three times the number of shops.
The objective is to provide travelers with plenty of last minute duty free retail options such as cosmetics, alcohol, jewellery, and tobacco, plus a full array of bars and restaurants.
Author: Brett Callaghan