Cleveland has a reputation for being a bit of rough and tumble city. It is sometimes referred to as the “Mistake on the Lake” referring to when Lake Eire was set ablaze. Needless to say, I didn’t have a lot of hope for their airport. This was before I spent the weekend there. I found the downtown to be modern, the Rock n Roll hall of fame engaging, the food great and the people friendly. Sure there is plenty of run down and poor areas but you will find that in any city. In my opinion, Cleveland gets a raw deal, but enough about that let’s get to the airport.
Cleveland Hopkins International Airport is a city owned airport located nine miles southwest of the central business district of Cleveland. The airport lies just within the city limits of Cleveland. It is the largest airport in the state of Ohio and a focus city for Frontier Airlines. About 7.5 million passengers pass through the airport each year and the most popular route is to O’Hare. You can access the airport by Cleveland Rapid Transit Systems red line for $2.25 one way. It is a three runway airport with 4 concourse A, B, C, and D. It is served by 13 airlines but has slowly been losing air service since 1999. Concourse D was built in 1999 for the price of $80 million but now sits vacant as United reduced its service and migrated their gates to C concourse. There is potential for much more service and there are talks of British Airways beginning service via on a 787 to London Heathrow.
Driving up to the main terminal was a breeze but midday on Sunday the drop off area was crowded. We jumped out while the car was still rolling and made our way into the departures terminal. The first thing I noticed was all the construction. Frankly it looked terrible, scaffolding, white wooden boards coved the support beams, it looked more like a construction site rather than an airport. We made our way to the Spirit kiosks which were down the end of the terminal. You know Spirit isn’t going to pay for placement. We got our boarding passes and headed to security. The security line was short and I was hoping to fly through. Not today my friends, not today. This was the shortest and slowest security line of all time. When I got past the TSA ID agent there was maybe 7 people ahead of me. It took 15 minutes to get through. That might not seem like much, but it’s a lifetime when the people in front of you have no idea what they are doing. Either way not a good start.
The Arrival Area
We were taking off from Concourse A and I was hoping it would be better that than the arrival area. My first impressions were not great. The gates were close together and there wasn’t a ton of options for food and drink. I heard there are better options in B and C concourse. There were winners Sports Bar and Grill which I got a hot dog at and it ok. There also was a Sammy Haggar Bar which was packed, which I appreciated there also was your standard Hudson News and Starbucks for your caffeine drip. One cool feature about Cleveland Hopkins is the guitars all over the airport, paying homage to the rock roots of Cleveland. The guitars all have different designs and are spread out through each concourse. Our gate was A7 and was fairly tight if you walked to the end of the terminal there were more gates mostly occupied by Frontier. I have noticed over the last few years Frontier passengers are always complaining, probably cause Frontier cancels lots of flights now. They have to jump on the Spirit train and know what to expect for their low ticket prices.
My experience at Cleveland Hopkins was so-so. My feeling is without the construction and a better security experience I would have felt more positive about the airport. Hopefully next time I will get to experience concourse B and C and maybe D if it ever opens back up. This time I am going to have to give it a B-. Hopefully the construction improves the overall feel. As always use the tripchi app when traveling to CLE. Travel On!