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Birmingham Alabama International Airport serves the Alabama city of Birmingham and central Alabama state from its location, just five miles to the northeast of Birmingham. It’s a joint military/civil facility, with its terminal facilities at present under massive reconstruction which is due to be completed by 2014. Public ground transportation from Concourse C, the only working terminal, is by taxi, shuttle services or limo. But car rental in Birmingham Alabama International Airport is the most comfortable and most practicable means of onward travel.
Who to Book With
Eight well-known international car rental companies are represented on the concourse, including Alamo, Sixt, Budget, Thrifty, Dollar and Hertz. Rental cars are collected and dropped off at the ground floor parking deck, and booking in advance is the best way to ensure your required vehicle. Car rental offices are found at section 1C in the car park.
Need to Know Essentials
The following documents need to be presented at vehicle collection:
Your home country driver’s licence
The credit card used to make the reservation
Your passport confirming your ID
Confirmation of booking
Although America drives on the right, experienced motorists will find getting around Alabama a trouble-free experience due to good roads, courteous drivers and helpful signage. Speed limits here are similar to those in the UK, with Alabama’s interstate speed limit set at 70mph, the limit on two-lane roads at 55mph and on four-lane highways at 65mph. The limit in urban areas is 30mph and on unpaved rural roads it’s 35mph. American hire cars offer automatic transmission, making driving here relatively stress-free. Birmingham is well-equipped with metered parking and 14 in-city municipal car parks, 10 of which are in the city centre, with parking coupons available via Central Parking. Seatbelts must be worn at all times by all occupants, and a warning triangle must be carried. Petrol stations are easily located and take card payments.
Arriving passengers looking for a fast getaway from Birmingham-Shuttlesworth Airport should opt for pre-booked car rental, as the facility is adjacent to interstates 20 and 59, giving a 20-minute trip time to the city centre, traffic permitting. Public transport is by inexpensive shuttle bus, slow local bus or more expensive taxis or limos.
There are no rail links between the airport and the city, but the city itself has an Amtrak station with services to New Orleans, New York and Washington, among other major cities.
Taxi services from the airport are provided by six companies, with each metered, licensed cab independently owned and operated. The taxi rank is located just outside the Arrivals exit and the service runs from early morning to late evening, with cabs able to be booked online in advance and the trip taking around 30 minutes outside of rush hours.
Birmingham Airport to Birmingham city centre is about £18
Birmingham Airport to Tuscaloosa is about £90
Birmingham Airport to Atlanta, Georgia is about £115
The E-Shuttle bus runs between the airport and a number of Birmingham hotels and motels, costing around £30 per person and needing to be booked in advance. Another option is the Birmingham Door-to-Door van service, which serves the city and other Alabama destinations, and also needing advance reservation. Several Birmingham hotels offer airport shuttles for their guests.
Concourse C is serves all arrivals and departures due to the expansion and rebuilding of the other terminals, due to be completed by 2014. Annual passenger throughput here is over two million, with only domestic flights to other US destinations operating at present. American Airlines, Delta, United, Southwest and US Airlines are the main carriers.
Several thousand hourly and daily parking spaces are available on the covered parking deck’s levels, with open-air parking at the Remote Lot used for long-stay parking and accessed via a free shuttle bus. Pick ups and drop offs use the Cellphone Parking Lot on Airline Drive. Hourly parking on the deck costs less than £1 for the first hour and up to £17 per day, with daily parking for more than four hours costing £8.50 and remote parking just £7 per day.
WiFi internet access is found all over the concourse.
The airport’s information desk is located adjacent to the ground floor Baggage Claim area.
Service Centre: +1 205 599 0500
The usual assistance for disabled passengers is found on the complex and includes reserved parking spaces close to the concourse, wheelchair access to most areas, a Skycap assistance service, adapted washrooms, lifts and induction loop system, and special seating areas. Qualified medical assistance is offered if required, and passengers with reduced mobility are asked to contact their airline to notify of any special needs.
Restaurants and Bars
The airport’s several food options are located before and after security on the concourse’s upper level, with the landside offerings including Charley’s Steakery, a Pizza Hut Express and a snack bar specialising in cookies. Airside, you’ll find a Starbucks, a Sam Adam’s and Quiznos.
There are no VIP lounges at the airport.
Money and ATMs
An ATM is found in the landside area adjacent to the Business Center and just before the security check gates leading to the Departures lounge.
Shopping opportunities are few and found mainly on the upper level of the concourse in the Departures lounge. They are limited to an airside gift shop and an outlet selling books, newspapers and other traveller necessities.