If you’re visiting Bend or thinking about moving long-distance, you’ve probably taken a look at possible flights in and out of the Bend airport. There’s just a small problem – Bend technically has an in-city airport, the Bend Municipal Airport (KBDN), but it’s considered a general aviation airport, not a commercial airport and is used primarily for private planes, flight training, and similar purposes.
When the time came to plan for a primary commercial airport in Central Oregon, a spot in Redmond was chosen (more on this below) for its flatter landscape and more available space. However, there are a number of other Northwest airports you can also consider too if you’re looking for more availability or more affordable tickets – especially if you don’t mind driving a little to reach your destination. Let’s go over the best airports to land in if you are planning a trip to Bend, how far away they are, and what else you should know about them.
Redmond Municipal Airport, Roberts Field (RDM)
Central Oregon’s primary commercial airport in Redmond is the easiest way to fly directly to Bend. This beautifully designed airport has won first place in Oregon infrastructure and engineering awards and has received certificates of excellence for its construction projects. You’ll see why when you navigate the luxurious terminal, and maybe stop by the Avalon Aeropub to grab a microbrew.
As the closest airport, RMD is less than a 20-minute drive from Bend, a swift commute that enables many people to live in Redmond and work in Bend, so don’t worry about long travel times. The Redmond Airport offers six full-service car rental agencies in addition to a variety of private car, shuttle, and ride share services. Supported airlines include American Airlines, United, Delta Airlines, Alaska, Avelo, and Aha!. Non-stop flights from RDM include Denver, Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, Seattle, San Francisco, Phoenix, Burbank, Reno, and San Diego.
Portland International Airport (PDX)
Portland’s airport is famously easily to navigate and packed with entertainment options, so it’s the perfect place for a more extended layover. Attractions include Oregon-only shops with local goods, exhibitions, a theater and massage parlor, and a wide variety of unique restaurants and pubs to try, depending on what looks tasty. Oh, and if you’re a little on edge at the airport, be sure to check out PDX’s dog therapy program!
In addition to a full suite of transportation and airport shuttle options, PDX supports 18 different airlines, from Air Canada to WestJet. Keep in mind, PDX has a central location in Portland so if you’re using a rental car, it’s a good idea to be familiar with the city and major routes to make it out and across the mountains. Except the trip to Bend to take three to four hours for your first time, depending on weather conditions – most prefer to go over the Mt. Hood pass directly from Portland, but there won’t be a huge time different either way.
Eugene Airport (EUG)
Around 130 miles west of Bend, Eugene’s airport sports scenic valley views and an array of nonstop-friendly options from airlines including Alaska, Allegiant, American Airlines, Avelo, Delta, Southwest, United, and more. Car rental services include major players like Enterprise, Alamo, Hertz, and others, plus bus and shuttle options to Bend.
If you do plan on driving yourself, it’s around a three-hour drive over Santiam Pass, which will take you through Sisters and past Tumalo so you can experience the charm of Central Oregon towns (and take a pleasant break after navigating the mountains). If you’re spending time at EUG, take a moment to check the Gallery, or even the Oregon Air and Space Museum.
Boise Airport (BOI)
BOI is another airport focused on making the travel experience as pleasant as possible: If you have time to eat, make sure you stop by the 13th Street Pub & Grill, or Parrilla Grill if you prefer Mexican fusion food (there’s also a Smashburger for Smashburger fans – you know who you are). The airport supports eight airlines, including Alaska, Allegiant, Delta, Spirit, United, Southwest, and American Airlines, with a variety of non-stop flight options throughout the Northwest. There are also six rental agencies, shuttle options, and ride share support for Lyft and Uber.
Boise is, of course, much farther from Bend than other airport options, roughly equivalent to traveling from Seattle (which makes SEA a potential alternative if you’re already planning for a long drive). Plan for about six hours of driving time if you take to the road. There are bus options, which will take even longer, but we suggest looking at direct flights to RDM from BOI. They tend to be more available than in some areas and can be very affordable – especially compared to gas prices.
Rogue Valley International Medford Airport (MFR)
Another option for flying into the southern portion of the valley is MFR, which offers seven airlines including Alaska, Avelo Airlines, Aha!, Allegiant, American Airlines, Delta, and United. Rental options include Avis, Enterprise, and Budget. If you’re hungry, the airport offers the Sky House Bar & Grill. The drive north is a bit longer than the drive east from Eugene, and there may not be direct shuttle options available.
Tips for Flying In and Out of Bend
- Northwest airports generally have good wait times, although the airline industry has been through a lot since the COVID-19 pandemic. If you aren’t checking any luggage, you shouldn’t experience significant wait times unless you’re flying out at a busy time of day. If you are checking luggage, it’s a very good idea to get there an hour or two beforehand (the official guidance is two hours) so you make your flight out without any problems. For smaller airports like RDM, you can even give them a call and ask how long wait times may be.
- If you aren’t landing in RDM and aren’t traveling from Idaho, you’ll have to cross the mountains to get to Bend, typically either via Mt. Hood or Santiam Pass. That’s a longer drive than it appears on paper. In the warmer months it shouldn’t be a problem as long as you don’t mind a lot of curvy roads. In the winter months, snow can be an issue, especially soon after a snowstorm. Chains or traction tires may be required and are advisable either way. If you don’t like the sound of that, there are a number of shuttle services that transport people back and forth across the mountains, from Shuttle Oregon to CoBreeze, along with more private services.
- If your flight connections allow for a flight directly from PDX to RDM, it’s well worth considering. It’s a very short flight, usually 20 to 30 minutes, tends to be affordable, and you don’t have to worry about driving over the mountains. However, these flights aren’t always easy to book and have become more difficult in recent years, so plan accordingly.
- Northwest airlines can be hospital places, especially if you’re in no rush to find your gate. You won’t have to look far to find airline pubs serving up local craft beer, among many other specialties. PDX is known for its live music, RDM has art showcases, and so on. If you have to spend some time waiting for your next flight, take a look around!
- RDM’s parking situation is much more casual than larger NW airports, but there may be fees involved if you or a friend have to park there for a significant period of time (more than thirty minutes, increasingly significant for overnight stays).
- Keep in mind that, thus far in 2022, the TSA (Transportation Security Administration) is still following its COVID-19 guidelines to help reduce the transmission of Omicron and other variants. That includes washing your hands, practicing social distancing, and using electronic boarding passes whenever possible to minimize contact. While Oregon airports themselves no longer require masking up, mask guidelines may vary for specific airlines (although it’s typically optional at this time). On that note, the FAA (Federal Aviation Administration) adopted new policies in 2021 to deal with unruly passengers, with lower tolerance for any kind of aggressive behavior.
- A lot of people wonder about the TSA’s stance on flying with cannabis. Let’s go right to the source and quote what they have to say: “TSA’s screening procedures are focused on security and are designed to detect potential threats to aviation and passengers. Accordingly, TSA security officers do not search for marijuana or other illegal drugs, but if any illegal substance is discovered during security screening, TSA will refer the matter to a law enforcement officer.”
- If you are renting a car or traveling with friends to visit Bend, take a look at any attractions along the way that you may want to stop by. Oregon is packed with beautiful sites. Weather permitting, a stop by Crater Lake is a common suggestion if you can make the time.
Master Your Moving Plans with Bend Relocation Services
You have enough on your plate scheduling flight times: To make things easier, contact Bend Relocation Services and take a look at how we make relocating to the area a smooth process. We can offer consultations to answer specific questions and give advice about the area, help you find a rental, and provide guides on everything from learning local school zones to the latest hot spots to try. Let us know how we can help!