If you're traveling to Nashville, Tennessee there is a good chance you could pass through the Nashville International Airport (BNA) along the way. This bustling regional hub sees more than 15 million people pass through its hallways on an annual basis and yet it still manages to feel accessible and easy to navigate. You might even spot a few musicians playing throughout the terminal as you hurry past towards your gate.
Originally named Berry Field when it was first built back in 1937, Nashville's airport underwent a major renovation in 1987 when the current terminal was built and the name was changed, thanks to a substantial investment from American Airlines.
More than 20 airlines operate out of the airport today, which features four runways spread out over 3900 acres. Chief amongst them is Southwest Airlines, which sees Nashville as a "focus city." Other major airlines include United, Delta, Air Canada, and British Airways.
If you'll be flying into and out of the Music City in near future, this is your complete guide on what to expect as you travel through the airport.
Nashville International Airport Code Location, and Flight Information
Know Before You Go
The airport's main hub is the Robert C. H. Mathews Jr. Terminal, which features 40+ gates spread out across three individual concourses. A unified security checkpoint is found just past the ticketing counters and serves as the gateway to all of the concourses, with access to a variety of restaurants, pubs, shops, and other amenities in each area.
The terminal building itself has three floors, with ticketing and passenger drop-off on the third level, while baggage claim and passenger pick-up is on the first. Offices and service space are found on the second floor, which is rarely accessed by travelers.
Security wait times at BNA vary greatly by day and time, although early mornings tend to be the most crowded. It is advised that travelers arrive at the airport at least 1.5 hours before their flight to ensure they have enough time to reach their gates. TSA PreCheck lines are usually quicker, but can often be backed up as well. Checkpoint wait times are prominently displayed at the top of the airport's website, making it easier for passengers to estimate how much time they should allow when navigating through the airport.
Tip: Both security checkpoints grant access to all of the gates and terminals, which means passengers can use either one at any time. Often, one is substantially less busy than the other.
Nashville International shares the grounds with an Air National Guard Base, which still operates out of Berry Field. That base is the headquarters of the 118th Airlift Wing, which provides logistical support for active combat units in times of war. Aircraft from the unit can often be spotted coming and going from the airport, but those operations have little to no impact on civilian traffic.
Nashville International features a variety of options for parking, including valet service, a parking ramp located next to the terminal, and several large parking lots further out. Finding a parking space at the airport is usually easy, although it may be best to check the website to get a sense of where it is best to park.
Airport Parking Prices vary depending on where you park. The current rates are as follows:
- Valet - $34/day
- Terminal Garage - $24/day (walk to terminal)
- Economy Lots - $12/day (shuttle service every 5-10 minutes)
- Express Park - $12/day (on-demand shuttle)
Located on the aptly-named Terminal Drive, the Nashville airport is surprisingly easy to reach by car, although during rush hour traffic in the morning and afternoon, getting in and out of BNA can be a challenge.
The airport itself is located just off of Interstate 40, which is a prominent access route through much of Nashville. Highways 24 and 440 both connect with I-40 as well, making it easy to navigate through the city.
Public Transportation and Taxis
As with most major airports, BNA offers a variety of options for getting to and from the terminal. For instance, Nashville's MTA bus system provides service to arriving and departing passengers alike, with a variety of stops and drop off locations. Visit the MTA website for more information.
Additionally, several taxi companies operate at the airport with fares starting with a $7 meter and an additional $2.10 per mile charge added from there. Trips to downtown Nashville or the Gaylord Opryland Hotel are covered with a flat rate of $25.
Many hotels offer free shuttle service and of course, both Lyft and Uber are authorized to operate at Nashville International as well.
Where to Eat and Drink
There are a variety of places to eat and drink at Nashville International, with two small food courts located within the terminal and several other restaurants, bars, and coffee shops located along each concourse. One of the food courts is found midway through Concourse C and the other serves as the entrance point for both Concourse A and B. Those locations are home to fast food outlets such as Burger King, Wendy's, Blue Coast Burrito, and Nathan's Hot Dogs.
Those looking for something a bit more local and substantial will want to check out Whitts BBQ. Located in Concourse C, this restaurant offers sit-down service, drinks, live music, and plenty of tasty Tennessee barbecue. Those departing from Concourse B can head over to the Tennessee Tavern, which is a Jack Daniel's themed bar with a full menu. If you're in Concourse A, drop by La Hacienda for traditional Mexican fare.
Where to Shop
In addition to the usual newsstands and book stores, as well as snack and drink outlets, Nashville has a few unique places to shop before catching your flight. For instance, Boswell's Music City Harley-Davidson offers officially licensed apparel and gear from the motorcycle manufacturer, while Godiva Chocolatier sells wonderful truffles, boxed chocolates, and drinks. Meanwhile, the Graycliff Cigar Company has handcrafted cigars and other tobacco products, while Music City Beer & Spirits sells locally made adult beverages.
Other shops of interest include the Opry Originals outlet, a Life is Good store, and Tennessee Whiskey House, which sells bottled spirits. For truly original shops however, check out Radio Road for women's travel clothes and Spirit of the Red Horse for gifts and art inspired by Native American culture.
Wi-Fi and Charging Stations
Nashville International Airport offers travelers free Wi-Fi across the entire terminal, although it isn't particularly fast or reliable. The wireless internet is good enough to check emails, send text messages, and check the status of a flight, but it is often too sluggish to get any serious work done. To connect, simply select the Boingo Hotspot network and follow the onscreen prompts.
Charging stations for mobile devices, tablets, and laptops are located throughout the terminal as well, and many chairs at the gates have outlets installed in them. These aren't always reliable either, so travelers may have to search around a bit to find one that is working properly.
Nashville International Airport Tips and Facts
- BNA has featured live music since 1988 and includes six performance areas throughout the airport. More than 700 artists perform there each year. Find out who is playing on the airport's live music calendar.
- The Nashville Airport always has an art exhibit on display with a nice mix of modern works, pop culture art, and more. Click here to discover what's currently on display.
- Nashville International lives up to its name, offering flights not only to the Caribbean, but also to Canada, but to Europe as well, including a nonstop route to London.
- In recent years, BNA has seen a tremendous upswing in visitors, prompting the airport to announce a major expansion to be completed by 2025.