Having now owned two businesses that service the Bozeman Yellowstone International Airport at Gallatin Field, AKA Bozeman Airport, AKA BZN I have learned a couple of tips and tricks that friends often ask that we pass on to the consumer. In this short article we will go over some of our tricks for arriving passengers.If the very bumpy, yet beautiful decent into Gallatin Valley hasn’t gotten you excited yet, certainly the lodge styling and comfortable atmosphere of the airport will. Where else are the advertisers in the airport Simms Fishing or various Fly Shops and not Siemens or Cisco? It is a fairly long walk to baggage claim and the signage is poor, just go with the flow and you will be fine. You will descend two escalators, or an available elevator, to baggage claim. Baggage claim is nearly central to the building structure.You will be greeted by a roaring fire in the stone fireplace as well as numerous bronzes highlighting Montana’s unique history and ecosystems. This is where a member of the Explore team will meet you with a placard with your name. On this main floor the following concessions are available: Copper Horse Bistro. Fair coffee and the most expensive slice of frozen pizza imaginable. They also sell other beverages and some t-shirts. You are better off biding your time to get out of the airport. There is also a Montana Gift Corral, the sell bottled drinks and souvenir items. There is also a Yellowstone Association store. We highly recommend you pay a short visit here while waiting for your luggage.Most visitors assume that the Yellowstone Association store is just another ridiculously priced airport tourist trap. This is not true. They offer excellent maps, naturalist guides, and journals regarding Yellowstone National Park. They are also staffed predominately by volunteers who are passionate about the Park and enjoy sharing information. The highlight of the shop is the interactive map they have. This map not only highlights where certain attractions are, but also has recent updates on where wolves and bears have recently been seen. For those spending longer than a couple of days in Yellowstone, it is highly recommended to become a member for $35.00. The discounts given on park lodging far exceed cost of membership.BZN Terminal GuideCarrying on… While you are waiting for your bags- which are sometimes waiting for you before you get to baggage claim, other times seemingly take forever: you can also a) use the restrooms (located underneath the escalators). 2) Send one member of your party to start waiting in line for your rental car if you haven’t booked through Explore. 3) Take you picture with the giant bronze bear or T-Rex skull. 4) Check out the informative hands on mammal tracking exhibit next to baggage claim 2. 5) Collect some free rack cards at the outdated information kiosk. 5) all of the above- it is a pretty small airport after all.
If your bags did not arrive: Delta is currently the only company that has a designated lost luggage counter (maybe they lose more luggage than anyone else?). This counter is located by Carousel 1. For other airlines you will need to go to the ticket counter. These are on the west side of the building. If you are facing the baggage claims turn left. Although there may not be an attendant right away, they will come eventually. Over the years our guests who have had luggage lost have always had their luggage returned in a timely manner- no matter where they are. We have had people get a bag delivered to random campgrounds on the Madison river and cabins up Bridger Canyon. So do not fret too much. Anyway, Explore Rentals always keeps a supply of toothbrushes and extra clothes/ gear on hand for those who are dealt a raw deal.
So now you have your bags: a) If you rented from Explore your team member will help you with the bags to your rental car waiting right out front (no need for a $5 cart hire or anything else).
b) If you did not rent from Explore: Head east young man! The rental car counters are on the east side of the building. If you have a familyBZN Rental Car Lots and/ or lots of luggage, wait in baggage claim and send the leading renter to the rental car counters only. It will likely be 10-30 minutes so get comfortable. It is highly, highly recommended you reserve your rental car in advance. Bozeman Airport car rental agencies often run out of rental cars. Assuming you have a reservation, get the keys, sign over your first born child, and pay too much for things you don’t need, and then continue east another 150-yards to the car rental parking lot. Once you locate your rental (don’t worry, it is a pretty small lot- only about 300-cars), turn right out of the rental car lot back towards the airport terminal. Stay in the righthand most lane (you are not allowed in the other lanes), and park in front of the door closest to baggage claim. Your family will hopefully still be waiting for you inside. Although Bozeman Airport security is typically incredibly nice, they have been issuing verbal warnings to people parking unattended in front of arrivals for too long. You will really want to be shaking a leg anyway, because the process to get here will have likely taken 30+ minutes by now.
(Update on renting from Explore: you are already on the road having collected all of the good maps and local insight you may need for a great Montana Experience) End Interlude.
Once you have your rental car loaded, start heading out the only way you can go. It is about 1-mile to get out of the airport. The road dead ends into Frontage Road. Turn left to go to Bozeman and Livingston. Right to go to Big Sky, Dillon, Twin Bridges, Belgrade, etc.
If you do not plan to rent a car we hope you have good friends in Bozeman, because the taxi services stink! Most of the major hotel chains that service the Bozeman and Belgrade area have a free airport shuttle. Make sure you contact where you are staying to confirm this and how to get the shuttle. They do NOT run regularly like most major markets.
If you are staying somewhere else and were planning to walk outside and get in line at the Taxi queue, you will be screwed. There is NO regular taxi service at the Bozeman airport. I repeat, there are no regular taxis at BZN. If you think you can walk to your hotel from the airport, you are wrong again. Frontage Road is treacherous. Perhaps the most dangerous road in America to walk along. There is also no scheduled public transportation from BZN to Bozeman (or anywhere else).
Your Taxi Options: Greater Valley Taxi , Classic Limo, Shuttle to Big Sky and Taxi, Karst Stage
Be warned: Taxi/ Limo Fees often GREATLY exceed rental car prices or even staying at hotel with a free shuttle. Rarely will a fare be less than $50, and you will be ride sharing. Getting to big sky will easily exceed $200 each way. Check out our other recent article on transportation to Big Sky.
In conclusion: We love the Bozeman Airport. We also love all the bad and overpriced ground transportation options, mostly because we offer a good and affordable ground transportation option. Whatever way you choose to get from BZN to your end destination, you must prearrange your taxi, hotel shuttle, or rental car before you arrive at Bozeman Airport. We have seen it happen too many times where people get stuck; the next taxi available will be there in 3-hours… the hotel shuttle driver left work early… the only rental car available is $500/ day… Please, make your travel plans in advance.
As long as you pre-arrange your ground transportation from BZN, you will certainly have a great experience at our best little airport in Montana.