Knoxville, TN, is a relatively small city nestled into a lush valley and surrounded by the Smoky Mountains. Located a short drive from the city, the Knoxville Airport is easy to find, and the drive there is rarely affected by serious traffic. For directions to the airport, click here.
Unlike bigger airports where unloading or picking people up can be awkward, you can still pull up right to the airport doors, although if you want to park and go inside you need to go around to short term parking. This makes dealing with luggage much easier.
If you’re flying out of Knoxville, expect it to take a lot less time than you’re used to. Because it’s a small airport, there are fewer flights leaving at a time and simply less people there. Also, although all of the federal rules apply, the security checks seem less stringent than they do at Atlanta or other larger airports. There’s simply less airport to go through. This means that for an international flight you only need to get there two hours early, instead of three (although there are no international flights directly out of Knoxville, you can start an international journey with a layover somewhere else in the States).
Walking up to the security area, you walk up a window lined hallway to the sound of rushing water. A series of rock filled, landscaped waterfalls fill the center of the large open space. Expect lots of reminders that you are in East Tennessee, like the carved wooden black bears.
Once you get past security, there are huge windows looking out over the runways. Along the front of the windows are rocking chairs, including a spattering of child-sized and double-width chairs. Somehow sitting with your family in rocking chairs while waiting to board the plane makes the whole experience seem less stressful.
The bathrooms were easy to find and clean, and the whole airport seemed to be clean and easy to navigate.
My one complaint was that the Southern, laid back attitude seemed to be a little too strong with some of the employees. Our flight was delayed by over an hour, but the American Airlines employee at our gate refused to be concerned or even admit that there was a real delay (talking to us an hour after we were supposed to have taken off). The delay was not his fault, but I would have appreciated better communication. From the grumbles of the other people waiting to board our flight (many of us were concerned about missing connector flights), I think everyone else felt the same way too.
Overall, the Knoxville Airport offers a faster, easier, more relaxed experience than bigger airports. If you’re visiting East TN, or if you life there, I recommend looking at flights from Knoxville rather than travelling to larger, busier airports like Atlanta or Nashville.
To visit the Knoxville Airport website, click here.