Bellingham International Airport

Souvenir Sunday: Bellingham International Airport

Each Sunday here at is Souvenir Sunday, the day we take a look at some of the fun, inexpensive and local items for sale at airports.

This week’s souvenirs come from Washington’s Bellingham International Airport, a tiny airport just south of the Canadian border and 90 miles north of Seattle.

Bellingham Airport

Allegiant, Alaska and Horizon airlines have been adding flights to and from this airport at prices that make it worthwhile for many people to skip larger airports in Vancouver and Seattle.

A terminal expansion is about to get underway to accommodate a passenger count that has skyrocketed from 70,000 passengers a year to more than 400,000 in just six years. In the meantime, though, travelers must make do with limited services.

And that means shopping for souvenirs in the tiny all-purpose lobby snack/gift shop.

There’s not much room for much stock over there in the corner, but I found neck pillows sewn by the shop manager’s sister, plenty of souvenir shot glasses, some mugs with northwest Native American designs and, in the under $10 range, hazelnuts and few other local food items.

mugs at Bellingham Airport

Hazelnuts at Bellingham Airport

I have high hopes for the shopping options I might find when the airport completes its expansion.

A potter's tool box

During this past weekend’s annual Whatcom Artist Studio Tour, I visited some of the great glassworkers, jewelers, painters, carvers, potters, weavers and other artists working in Bellingham and Whatcom County and it would be a great treat to see some of this work on display at the airport.

To find out more know about Bellingham, the “City of Subdued Excitement”, check out this popular video, also made by local artists.

Site visit: Bellingham International Airport (BLI)

Bellingham International Airport (BLI) is a tiny little airport just south of Vancouver, B.C. and about 90 miles north of Seattle.

Bellingham International Airport

In 2004, about 70,000 passengers boarded planes at this airport.

But then Alaska/Horizon Airlines and Allegiant Air began expanding their flight schedules here.

Now service is offered to cool places such as Las Vegas, San Francisco, Los Angeles and, soon, Honolulu – at prices that are competitive with big city airports in Seattle and Vancouver, B.C.

So now this three-gate airport is serving closer to 400,000 passengers a year.

And it’s bursting at the seams.

Good thing there’s a major expansion project in the works.

Bellingham Airport historic photo

In September, the airport closed down entirely while the runway was upgraded.

By March, Phase I of a major terminal expansion will be completed.

And that will bring the total number of gates to 5.

Art Choat, the airport’s director of aviation, says the airport has no choice but to grow.

But he promises the changes won’t alter the sense of community at this airport, where there’s a collection box for the local food bank at the security checkpoint and a rack of used books for sale at the concession stand.

used books at Bellingham Airport