I recently flew from Boston to Richmond and back on JetBlue and was excited about the trip for a number of reasons. I had never flown into Richmond International Airport but I had heard very good things about the layout, stores, accessibility and quick security. Richmond to me feels like the beginning of the South. People seem friendlier than in Baltimore or DC and the accents start to get a little thicker.
My final destination was Virginia Beach which is a solid 1.5 hours drive from Richmond but the JetBlue deal was too good to pass up. I was able to get a round trip ticket from BOS-RIC for $90. The first leg from BOS-RIC was only $39 dollars; I think it’s the cheapest domestic ticker I have ever bought. It was certainly the best deal I have found in awhile and because I have the Jetblue Amex I was still getting 8 points for every dollar spent. The second reason was I got to fly on the JetBlue E-190, a small regional aircraft with spacious seating, seat back TV and a lot of power. I much perfer the E-190 to a CRJ because of the spaciousness.
Richmond Airport Background
RIC is considered a small to medium sized airport and the fourth busiest in Virginia behind Dulles, Reagan and Norfolk (I would have guessed it was busier than Norfolk). There are two terminals an A and B servicing 7 total airlines, with Delta and Southwest being the largest players at the airport. There is over 100k in aircraft movements per year and a 9000 ft runway that can handle big aircraft like Air Force 1. RIC gets about 3.3 million passengers a year and the top destination is ATL with around 450,000 passengers per year. Overall RIC has a vibrant airport with plenty of passengers for its size.
One of the most frustrating parts of traveling is getting to and from the airport. It’s always a welcome sight when the arriving at the airport is easy and painless. RIC is easily accessed from either Interstate 64 or 295 and is quick 15 minute drive from downtown Richmond. The road layout of the airport is also pleasing. The arrivals and departures are clearly labeled and the parking garage is large and right across from the terminals. A nice perk of the airport is you can park for 60 minutes for free. So if you want to walk somebody into the airport to say your goodbyes you don’t have to worry about paying a fee. On a side note long term parking off airport is also very affordable, you can park for a week for $40 and most lots give you a water bottle when you leave.
The interior of Richmond is what really impressed me. The arrival hall is big and wide open with plenty of space for each airline ticket desk and kiosks. The ceilings are very high complimented by a shiny interior and exterior makes it feel almost futuristic.
The one issue I had with the interior was the security check point. There is only two check points, so every passenger’s passes through either point which can cause a big back up. I was there early in the morning and the crowd was definitely building. Strangely the TSA pre-check line was longer than the non pre-check; I guess the program is gaining steam. There was only one agent checking ID’s and pre-check docs for both lines. This slowed the line down considerably. For an airport with plenty of space the security line is cramped, there were lines to to put your personal items on the belt but per usually only one scan machine. The scan machine was acting up and needed to be recalibrated which took about 5 minutes and really backed up the line. The TSA agents at Richmond were very pleasant though and were constantly apologizing for the delay which I appreciated. I finally got through after about 20 minutes but it was an unpleasant experience indeed.
When you come out of security you entered in a atrium with lush plants and my favorite part of the airport, a piano that plays itself. Not only is it nice to hear the soft sounds of a paino and not Katy Perry blasting over the speakers, the novelty of a self playing piano is fun and different. Also in this atrium are the majority of the shops and restaurants. Here you have your Hudson News, Applebees, Sam Adams Bar and Caribou Coffee shop. Not the most diverse selection but enough to get you by. Also there is free wi-fi throughout the terminals which is a big plus. I was in concourse A which has plenty of seating, a nice open feeling and very clean. There also was plenty of charging stations if you need them.
Overall I really enjoyed my visit to RIC. It has a really great feel, plenty of windows, clean and very high ceilings complimented with big arrivals and concourse areas. The staff is friendly, the wi-fi is free and you can get a beer pretty easily. Other than the security situation there isn’t much to dislike about RIC. I give it an A- and highly recommend it. Once again when traveling make sure you use tripchi as your right hand man or woman to finding out what to do at the airport.