This Airport Guide describes what departing passengers can expect to see and do in the airside (passengers-only) areas of George Best Belfast City Airport (BHD).
NOTE: This Airport Guide draws on my own experience of using BHD as a departing passenger on 08 June 2022. For the most part, it reflects conditions as they existed at that point in time. Operating hours, facility information, security screening procedures and other details may change at any moment and without prior notice.
The information set out here covers the airside (passengers-only) area of George Best Belfast City Airport (IATA code: BHD) – the smaller of two airports serving the capital of Northern Ireland. For our purposes, “airside” encompasses all of the terminal’s restricted areas after departures security, open exclusively to passengers (as opposed to “landside”, which can be accessed by the general public).
To learn more about the terminal’s landside area (i.e., the publicly accessible zone before security screening), please read my separate report documenting what you can expect to see in that part of the building.
The entrance to security screening is right between the WHSmith and the Caffè Nero in the middle of the main hall.
The process is fairly routine: bags go into the scanner whilst you enter the walk-through detector. As always, make certain that liquids, aerosols, and gels (LAGs) are within prescribed limits and packed into a transparent bag for inspection. For more details, read through the information set out on BHD’s airport security page as well as on the website of the airline you’re flying with.
BHD offers Fast Track Security services for an additional fee. Some airlines provide complimentary access to passengers ticketed under premium fare classes; check directly with your carrier to find out if you’re eligible. Note that the entrance to the fast track lane is right next to the check-in counters, on the left side of the WHSmith in the main hall.
Screening times will of course vary depending on crowd conditions and other factors. In my own experience, I walked into the entrance (the normal one, not the fast track gate) and sped through to the other side in under six minutes.
SHOPS AND RESTAURANTS
For an airport of its size, BHD has a rather solid offering of dining and retail options.
The first you’ll encounter is the main duty free shop, through which all passengers are funnelled as they progress from security to the departures lounge.
Immediately after that is a WHSmith, much larger than the one in the main hall. Standard-issue for the most part: reading material, travel goods, daily necessities, and a selection of ready-to-consume food and beverages.
Having survived the gauntlet of retail temptation – or perhaps succumbed to it, as the case may be – you’ll then be disgorged straight into the departures lounge.
Unless you’re happy with WHSmith’s cold sandwiches and basic drinks, you might consider one of the other airside dining establishments for more upmarket (or more substantial) menu options.
The Aspire Lounge is located near Gate 4 (turn left at the Starbucks). It accepts pay-per-use guests – bookings can be made here – but if you’re travelling in a premium fare class, you’ll want to check with your airline to see if they provide complimentary access.
Refer to the lounge page on BHD’s official website for more information.
There are two main areas of seating in the terminal’s departures lounge. The first is located after the WHSmith, towards your right as you enter the departures lounge proper.
You’ll find the second concentration of seats in front of The Artisan restaurant, over by the picture windows that look out across the apron and runway.
Annoyingly, the seats in this second group are turned away from the windows rather than towards them. I daresay the airport complex and the wider landscape offer a much better view than diners tucking into meals in the nearby restaurant.
With the sole exception of Gate 4, all of the terminal’s boarding gates are accessed at ground level – i.e., one floor below the departures lounge. There are no seats available by the gates themselves, so passengers taking flights from Gates 1-3 or 5-10 are expected to remain in the departures lounge until close to boarding time…
…at which point they’ll be allowed through these doors to go down to their assigned embarkation point.
Gate 4 also has the distinction of being fitted with BHD’s only aerobridge. If your plane is docked at any of the other gates (1-3 or 5-10), you will need to walk out onto the apron and march aboard using mobile stairs.
Well, that’s the hard part all sorted. Sit back, relax, and enjoy your flight.
Safe and happy travels, everyone.
Not yet ready to pass through security? CLICK HERE to read my separate Airport Guide documenting BHD’s landside zone (i.e., the public area before departures screening).