All About BDL

Bradley International Airport is the second biggest airport in New England and is owned and operated by the Connecticut Airport Authority. Located in Windsor Locks, approximately 20 minutes from Hartford, the airport sits between New York and Boston – serving travelers from Connecticut, western Massachusetts, and other New England states.

Highlighting Our History

Bradley International Airport’s origins began in early 1941 when the State of Connecticut acquired 1,700 acres of farmland from the Town of Windsor Locks. The land was then leased to the federal government to build a military air base as the United States entered World War II.

In August 1941, Second Lieutenant Eugene M. Bradley died in a routine training exercise at the air base. The base was then named Bradley Field in honor of the 24-year-old pilot.

During the war, Bradley Field served as a training base for air combat and a staging area for those being deployed overseas. Bradley Field was returned to state ownership in 1946.

The Future of Flight

In 1947, commercial flights began to take off at Bradley Field, thanks to airlines such as American, Eastern and Northeast. A new airline terminal, known as the Murphy Terminal, was constructed and opened in 1952, which helped pave the way for the future of air travel. The building, also referred to as terminal B, was named after Francis Murphy, the first chairman of the Connecticut Aeronautics Commission.

Bradley Field eventually became known as Bradley International Airport through the expansion of its destinations. Over the decades, there was the addition of a second terminal – terminal A – as well as the addition of hotel accommodations and parking lots to help handle the growing number of passengers traveling in and out of the airport.

In the early 2000’s, terminal A underwent a major overhaul and saw the construction of a new, state-of-the-art concourse to serve the growing needs of the region. Terminal B, which underwent a series of additions and renovations during the life of the airport, was officially decommissioned in 2016. A new terminal B facility was built to help accommodate international arrivals.

In 2011, The Connecticut Airport Authority was established to develop, improve and operate Bradley International Airport and five general aviation airports in the state. Over the years, the Connecticut Airport Authority has worked to strengthen the airport’s route network, modernize the passenger experience, and drive further growth at the airport.

One of the most notable recent developments is the opening of the airport’s Ground Transportation Center. The facility has dramatically changed the airport’s footprint, while centralizing rental car operations, adding more parking – with plans for future improvements to public transportation.

Currently, travelers can fly nonstop between Bradley International Airport to more than 40 destinations. The airport is served by Aer Lingus, Air Canada, American Airlines, Breeze Airways, Delta Airlines, Frontier Airlines, JetBlue, Southwest Airlines, Spirit Airlines, Sun Country, and United Airlines. In addition, the airport is home to several cargo airlines and a number of aviation services for private and corporate travel. Bradley International Airport also serves as a base for the Connecticut Army and Air National Guard, as well as the Connecticut Wing Civil Air Patrol.

Fun facts about BDL

  • Eastern Airlines made the first commercial flight into BDL in 1941.
  • The first jet service was in 1961 when United Airlines operated its 94-seat Boeing 720 from Bradley Field to Los Angeles, with a layover in Cleveland.
  • The Kaman Aircraft Company successfully operated the world’s first turbine-powered helicopter at BDL in 1951
  • President Dwight Eisenhower, Charles Lindbergh and Fred Rentschler, the founder of Pratt & Whitney, helped dedicate the Murphy Terminal at BDL upon its completion in 1952.
  • Discount department store Bradlees was named after Bradley International Airport because many of the early planning meetings were held at the airport by the company’s founders. In fact, some existing companies near the airport still use the word Bradley in their name as a way to pay homage to BDL.
  • BDL was one of three U.S. airports listed as a diversion site for the Concorde. The British Airways Concorde diverted to BDL one final time in February 2003 due to low visibility at JFK.
  • BDL is one of a handful of airports in the U.S. that boasts a full-service hotel attached to the main terminal.
  • In February 2022, Breeze Airways announced that BDL would serve as a base of operations for the airline, bringing hundreds of new jobs to the state.
  • BDL has been visited by several Antonov aircraft over the years. The An-225, the biggest aircraft in the world, flew from Ukraine to Connecticut in 1991 to transport a young girl who was receiving medical care at a local hospital. Other variations of the aircraft, including the Antonov An-124, have also visited BDL.
  • In July 2002, BDL opened a brand new, state-of-the-art ground transportation center that spans more than 13 acres. The ground transportation center is connected to the main terminal – making it convenient for passengers picking up or dropping off rental cars.
  • BDL has been recognized by Condé Nast Traveler as a top-ten airport in the U.S. for seven consecutive years. The airport was also previously recognized by USA Today in their “Best Small Airport” category.

Fast facts by the numbers

  • BDL is served by 11 different airlines
  • BDL offers nonstop access to 40+ destinations
  • 6,248,165 passengers traveled through BDL in 2023
  • BDL’s ground transportation center has 2,800 rental car spaces