Guide to Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF)

February 27, 2024

Buffalo Niagara International Airport (BUF) is an important transportation hub in the northeast that handles nearly 2 million passengers a year and services five different countries. With over 4,000 flights a year and nearly 240 routes, BUF has a fascinating history that extends to the very beginning of the aviation industry in America.

History of Buffalo Niagara International Airport

BUF is one of the oldest municipal airports in the country, opening in 1926 on former farmland. Its initial opening included a small terminal, one hangar, and four cinder runways. These were 3,000 feet long and mostly serviced small passenger and mail service starting in 1927: trips were exclusively to Cleveland at the time.

Terminal expansions throughout the 1950s (particularly in 1955) helped expand the airport’s commercial potential. Before this period, its expansion during World War II (to handle military traffic) brought in new runways and services to make the airport even more modern. It was eventually purchased (in 1959) by the Niagara Frontier Transportation Authority.

Eventually, it was renamed the Greater Buffalo International Airport and went through various renovations and improvements. For example, a $56 million renovation and expansion project helped increase the airport’s services in 1997 and modernized many of its facilities. This construction brought BUF into the modern age and ensured it served a broader range of customers.

Modern Changes, Renovations, and Upgrades at BUF

By 2006, it was clear that the Greater Buffalo International Airport was just as important to Niagara Falls as it was to Buffalo itself. As a result, it changed its name to the Buffalo Niagara International Airport, a name it uses to this day. Since then, it’s expanded its service to include even more of the Niagara Region, including Southern Ontario in Canada, to bring in even more customers.

Further expansions throughout the 2000s and 2010s helped bring the airport up to modern standards. Post-9/11, more security features were installed, as were better airport parking facilities, various terminal upgrades, and efficiency enhancements. In 2017, the biggest expansion yet ($80 million) added more than 54,000 square feet to the airport. It finished in 2021.

Upgrades include creating secure walkways on the airport terminals, replacing the baggage carousels with four slope-plated options (doubling their capacity), continuing to expand and modernize current facilities (such as restaurants and restrooms), and focusing heavily on higher passenger numbers. Since completion, these enhancements have helped Buffalo Niagara International Airport stand out.

BUF Airport Location

Buffalo Niagara International Airport is located at 4200 Genesee Street in Cheektowaga, New York. It serves the full Buffalo metropolitan area as well as Niagara Falls, Ontario. That gives it a unique international slant that makes it a popular destination for many people throughout the area.

Art and Things to Do at Buffalo Niagara International Airport

Buffalo Niagara International Airport provides visitors with multiple things to do during their visit and regularly adds unique and colorful artwork throughout the facility. For example, from 2015 to 2017, “We Share a Dream” showcased a unique part of Buffalo's history and culture.

It included more than 1,000 shirts donated by residents of western New York. Hung by a team of local volunteers, the shirts suggested human connection and the connectivity of the Buffalo region. For two years, it hung over the main ticketing area in the public lobby and was seen by thousands.

BUF Guide to Parking/Transportation

BUF provides several airport parking options for travelers, including daily/hourly parking options. However, you can reserve an airport parking space with The Parking Spot and get white-glove service to and from the airport. Our amenities include:

  • Shuttle service to and from the parking lot
  • 24/7/365 service for your needs
  • Uncovered parking for fast and efficient processing
  • Spot Club membership for frequent fliers
  • Shuttle tracking options to keep you safe
  • Long-term parking options for your vehicle
  • Complimentary bottled water to keep you refreshed
  • Coupons and deals to help you save even more money
  • Luggage assistance and help with your travel
  • Easy reservation management during your trip

Hotels Near Buffalo Niagara International Airport

The Parking Spot can help you find not only an airport parking spot but also a hotel that fits your comfort and budget needs. After careful research, we’ve found a few hotels that that should suit the needs of your visit. Most include shuttle service, though availability may vary:

Terminal Map for BUF

Buffalo Niagara International Airport provides a simple terminal map that can help you travel throughout this airport. Consisting of just one long terminal (with departures on the upper level and arrivals on the lower level), BUF is not necessarily a complex or difficult airport to visit.

That said, using this map can help you find post- and pre-security areas, roadways, TSA and global entry checkpoints, transportation options, dining destinations, and even retail shops. You can also easily find ATMs, change machines, video relay phones, cell chargers, and nursing lounges with it.

BUF Guide to Checking Wait Times and Flight Status

Buffalo International Airport not only provides strong airport parking with The Parking Spot but also a unique flight-tracking tool that can ensure you can properly plan your travel. It includes arrivals, departures, air traffic maps, and a constantly updated flight tracker.

With this app, you can sort by flight number, origin, status, scheduled arrival, updated arrival, and the airport gate. If you’re on a quick trip or worried about potential cancellations, make sure you use this site regularly to ensure that you’re on time and traveling safely.

BUF Guide to Food/Dining

When traveling to Buffalo Niagara International Airport, you might need a bite to eat. Thankfully, we can help you find places to eat and things to do while you’re in this facility. Here are a few of the most popular restaurants to visit when visiting this airport:

  • Anchor Bar: Located on the upper level inside the security checkpoint, Anchor Bar provides delicious Buffalo Chicken Wings (did you know they originated in Buffalo, explaining their name?) and drinks.
  • Blue Zone: Find this tasty eatery in Gate 4 and enjoy delicious Labatts beer, Red Osier beef sandwiches, burgers, and sides like fries, onion rings, and other foods.
  • Bocce Club Pizza: If you and your kids love pizza, visit BUF’s food court to enjoy delicious Buffalo-style pizza. Bocce Club has been serving the Buffalo area since 1946.
  • BurgerFi: Located in the food court, BurgerFi provides delicious homemade burgers that are a step up from your traditional fast food fare.
  • Queen City Kitchen: Found directly across from Gate 10, Queen City Kitchen offers delicious breakfast sandwiches on artisan bread, various waffles, and even lunch and dinner meals.
  • The Coffee Beanery: Do you enjoy delicious coffee or just need a quick caffeinated pick-me-up? The Coffee Beanery, inside the security checkpoint, provides various brews, pastries, and refreshments.

Things to Do During a Long Layover

Are you stuck at Buffalo Niagara International Airport for a long layover and need things to do to keep yourself and your kids entertained? There are several fun retail shops and other destinations you can visit to avoid boredom. These include options like

  • Frivolous: Located next to JetSet West, just inside the security checkpoint, Frivolous provides snacks, retail products, and gifts to make your visit even more fun.
  • JetSet: JetSet operates East and West destinations near Gate 20 and the security checkpoint, respectively. It includes convenience gifts, newsstands, food, and coffee.
  • Vending Machines: While not exactly a laugh a minute, various vending machines throughout the airport help to provide you and your kids with inexpensive drinks and snacks.

Amenities at Buffalo Niagara International Airport

Now that you know a few places to eat and some things to do at Buffalo International Airport, let’s examine some of the most popular amenities. They include a:

  • Barbershop where you can get your hair done (if you need it)
  • Cell service center where you and your kids can charge your phones
  • Variety of chargers throughout most seating areas
  • Charging center for electric vehicles
  • Simple information desk to learn more about your travel
  • Meet and greet area for travelers and guests
  • SmarteCarte baggage claim system
  • Frequent/corporate parker program

BUF Airport Guide to Pet Areas

Are you bringing along a service animal, such as an emotional support dog, while visiting Buffalo International Airport? Well, a BUF guide should highlight the pet relief station between gates 11 and 14 right inside the airport. Enter the terminal through security and turn right to find it.

In this area, anticipate a fun and comfortable area for your pooch. Green AstroTurf gives them a familiar place to “go,” while a red fire hydrant gives it a more fun atmosphere. Clean up after your pup with waste bags and toss them in the receptacle to keep the area safe.

Fun for Kids and Teens at Buffalo International Airport

If you have a couple of little ones and can’t find anything for them to do on your print BUF guide, take them to Gate 2, Gate 9, and Gate 19/21 to find three different play areas. Designed and installed by Fisher-Price, these spots include fun versions of this company’s many popular toys.

Teens may find these areas a little too basic for their needs, so make sure you take them to destinations like the retail shops mentioned above. You can also visit the previously mentioned cell service area, where they can keep their phones/tablets charged and ready to go.

Lounges at Buffalo Niagara International Airport

Club Buffalo provides Buffalo Niagara International Airport guests with plenty of things to do and is one of the most popular places to eat in the airport. Visitors can book ahead for $50 and get a social place for a nice chat, a quiet drink, and delicious food – available to all airlines.

Amenities include complimentary snacks and beverages, digital newspapers and magazines, high-speed WiFi access, TV channels and flight info, comfortable seating, and workstation options. You can access the lounge three hours before your scheduled flight departure.

BUF Guide to Moving Walkways, Light Rails, and Wheelchair Assistance

In Buffalo’s major $80 million upgrade, new walkways were installed to provide easier access throughout the facility. BUF is also connected to the NFTA-Metro System in Buffalo, making your trips easier and safer. Buffalo Niagara International Airport also provides wheelchair support directly through your airlines – contact them and not the airport to get the help you need.

Buffalo Niagara International Airport Guide to Security

Streamlining your airport security in BUF requires you to understand security protocols. These include magnetometer screening support, as well as curb-side check-in from Southwest Airlines. Various security terminals help to minimize potential risks and keep you protected.

WiFi in Buffalo Niagara International Airport

While visiting Buffalo Niagara International Airport, you have free access to WiFi through Boingo. Open your device, choose the “BUF Free WiFi” option, launch your web browser, sign up for an account, or use an existing account. You get access to unlimited 45-minute sessions with this service.

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