Toledo Express Airport
The source of direct flights to Chicago, Las Vegas and Ft. Myers, Florida, Toledo Express Airport (TOL) is an uncelebrated cog in the American air travel infrastructure. Although its location affords this facility plenty of commercial rivals in Ohio and Michigan, TOL has carved a unique niche as a regional hub. Within a reasonably short drive to Fort Wayne, Ann Arbor, Detroit, and Cleveland, TOL depends on service and convenience to keep passengers coming through its portals.
Situated in Swanton, Ohio, 10 miles west of downtown and 683 feet above sea level, this airfield has been in continuous operation since 1955. Toledo Express Airport is operated under the auspices of the Toledo – Lucas County Port Authority, which also oversees Toledo Executive Airport and the Lake Erie Port of Toledo, Ohio. A four-person management team – reporting to the Authority’s Airport Committee – administers operations on location. Its two runways serve approximately 700,000 passengers annually and qualified for a $5.7 million improvement grant from the Federal Aviation Administration in 2012.
History of the Toledo Express Airport
Constructed at the cost of $3.8 million in the mid-1950s, TOL received no federal monies for its establishment, a fact that was lauded at the time by President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The short runways and limited space of its predecessor airport – Toledo Municipal – convinced regional leaders that a more modern facility was needed at the dawn of the jet age. Its history is marked by friendly competition with nearby Detroit Metropolitan-Wayne County Airport. As the smaller of the two, TOL has worked hard over the years to attract more airlines and expand flight schedules. Renovations in the 1970s and 1990s were central to that effort, as was expanding the air cargo traffic coming through the airport.
Of the approximately 112 daily take-offs from TOL, 37% are transient general aviation; 20%, local general aviation; 17%, commercial; 14%, air taxi; and 12%, military. Accordingly, the airport is home to 21 single-engine planes, 17 multi-engine planes, 7 jet planes, 3 helicopters, and 21 assorted military aircraft. The runways extend to 10,600 and 5,600 feet, respectively, and each complies fully with federal regulations with reference to signage, lighting, and surface conditions. Flight instrument procedures are uniform with those of surrounding regional airports including: Toledo Executive, Wood County, Fulton County, Toledo Suburban and Henry County airports.
The passenger terminal at TOL is divided into two distinct levels. The lower level receives arriving travelers, provides baggage claim, houses rental car kiosks and serves as the pick-up point for taxis, limos and shuttles. There is also a gift shop/snack bar on this tier. Departures take place at the upper level, which also offers a food court, bar and children’s play area. Providing free wireless network access, a post office and an ATM machine, the TOL terminal is convenient and comfortable for passengers transitioning from air to ground transportation. For those using their own cars, the airport has both long- and short-term parking areas, which grant the first 15 minutes of parking on the house.
Due to TOL’s particular layout and the present security climate, the airport advises travelers to arrive between 90 minutes to two hours ahead of their flights. While strictness varies by airline, passengers are expected to be checked in and at the gate 30 minutes before departure. In fact, some airlines close their counters to check-ins one-half hour before the flight is scheduled for take-off. All airlines at TOL have a carry-on limit of two bags. The Transportation Security Administration operates at Toledo Express and, under its Secure Flight Final Rule, may detain passengers for further screening.