Airports / Flights to D.C., Washington D.C.
We flew American Airlines from Las Vegas to Washington. We could not get a direct flight and had to fly via Los Angeles. We did think that the transit time between flights was pretty tight but it all worked out fine and getting to the correct gate was easy. The flight was comfortable and a small snack was provided.If you are sitting on the left and it is a clear day look out for the Hollywood sign on the hilltop outside LA central and the Grand Canyon. from window. Make sure you have earphones with you when you board as you may not have opportunity to get after seating.
Dulles international airport isn't the one you see planes landing at behind the Lincoln Memorial - that's the smaller Ronald Reagan national airport. Despite being called Washington Dulles Airport, it isn't even in DC. It's over the border in Virginia. It's a very pleasant looking airport, with a real Sixties space age feel to it. Large parts of it feel like they could have been dropped in from a 2001: Space Odyssey film set. It's all soft, shiny plastic and aerotrains.
Washington isn't the busiest international airport in the US but it does run plenty of transatlantic flight. Most major European capitals are served, as are many Latin American and Asian destinations. The routes are boosted by Dulles being a hub for United Airlines, and it's budget wing United Express. The most popular destination is London, with three different airlines flying there: British Airway, United Airlines and Virgin Atlantic.
There's a bus service running to the airport from downtown Washington DC. It's bus 5A and it runs from L'Enfant plaza, taking about 40 minutes. Be warned: It says that the bus runs from L'Enfant Plaza, but it actually runs from L'Enfant Plaza metro station. This is not quite the same thing - they are about 300 meters apart. The stop is actually on D Street SW between 6th and 7th streets. The trip costs $6 one-way.
Note: If you are interested in aircraft at all the Smithsonian keeps its Air and Space Museum adjunct near Dulles Airport. It's where all its best exhibits are: Enola Gay, the Space Shuttle, Concorde, etc. It basically has everything that its smaller downtown museum can't fit. If you have a few hours to waste at the airport it would be a shame to miss this: There's even a shuttle bus running to the museum from the airport.
My first piece of advice is to avoid Dulles Airport if possible. It is the most chaotic and passenger unfriendly airport I’ve ever been to. Washington Dulles International Airport (code name: IAD) it is not in Washington but in Virginia. It can take you over an hour to get there, depending on traffic and weather. If you have a choice, choose flights that arrive and depart from Reagan National Airport (DCA), which is just minutes away from downtown DC.
Those of you who have relatives or friends who offer a ride should definitely take advantage of their goodwill. A cab may be convenient, but it will cost you a pretty penny - $50-60. Don’t forget to include airport transfers when calculating your travel expenses. What you save in airfare is often spent on shuttles to less strategically located airports.
For the frugal-minded, I highly recommend the 5A Metrobus, an express bus to Dulles Airport, which will set you back a grand total of $3. The bus leaves hourly from L'Enfant Plaza or Rosslyn station, and drops you off right in front of the airport (actually you are let off at a back door, which can be confusing because there are no signs telling you to go UPSTAIRS for an international flight).
The 5A line started out as a bus for airport workers. It was not intended for tourists lugging suitcases. It’s an ordinary bus, with two seats on each side of a narrow aisle, with very little room for luggage. So it can be a bit squishy. I guess you need to consider that if you are dragging a lot with you, or need leg room. The trip takes about an hour, and the bus can be full.
Don’t forget to prepare exact change.
If you inquire at a DC hotel desk, they won’t tell you about this $3 wonder. More likely, they will offer to call you a cab. If you insist on something cheaper (which you may feel tacky about, if it’s a glitzy hotel), they may do you a favor and pull out a schedule for the Washington Flyer coach service leaving from Metro West Fall Church Station at $9 a person. Not bad, but personally, I like $3 better.
UPDATE from my visit in July 2012: The $3 option has become the $6 option, but still a good deal.
Such a convenient way to enter DC! The airport is modern and has wonderful restaurants and shopping inside, and there is a Metro stop just outside (just cross the bridge from the airport terminal), which makes transportation into the city or surrounding areas so easy!
One time I flew in and out of Dulles International Airport so I would say this is one of the best ways of getting to D.C. The airport has changed since I was there, but I don't remember much of it anyway. I was picked-up by my aunt and she took charge of everything.
Though the proposed rail system isn't built yet, there are car rentals at the airport and buses that will take you into the city.
Of Course, if you're important enough, Helicopter One is the perfect way of getting to and around Washington D C! Presidential helicopter returning from Camp David after a restful weekend.
Please be aware, ground transport from Dulles is not always easy. Please verify your shuttle or metro bus & rail schedule before you depart.
This link may be of help, please note metrorail does not go all the way from Dulles to DC. You must take a bus, walk and change trains. With luggage this can be uncomfortable at best.
While I usually fly into gigantic Dulles Airport in Washington DC, I have occasionally been lucky enough to book a flight through cozy little Reagan National Airport nestled snugly on the banks of the Potomac alongside Crystal City in Alexandria, VA.
National Airport opened in 1941 and now handles about 18 million passengers per year. Dulles opened in 1962, and it handles just a few million more passengers at around 24 million per year.
Reagan's benefits over Dulles are primarily proximity to the city and available public transportation options. From downtown DC you can be at Reagan in 10 or 15 minutes compared to 30-45 minutes at Dulles (or more with traffic). From Dulles your only transportation choices are a few buses and taxis; Regan is connected to the city by the Metro, numerous buses, taxis, and even a jogging/biking trail.
Dulles is a major hub of United Airlines which uses over 60 percent of the airport's gates. IAD is the 15th busiest airport in the US and one of the 30 busiest in the world. The airport has a big main terminal as well as two midfield terminals. Currently the only way to get to the midfield terminals is via a bus-like vehicle that drives across the airport... this is due to be replaced soon by an underground train.
Transportation to and from Dulles can be problematic. The Washington Flyer buses will take you directly to the Tysons Corner Metro station for $10. The city's MetroBus express route 5A will take you to any of five stops for only $3.10; the stops are Herndon-Monroe park and ride, the Tyson-Westpark transfer station, the Rosslyn Metro Station, and L'Enfant Plaza downtown. Other than those options you are stuck with taxis, rental cars, or having someone pick you up. There are plans to extend the Metro to the airport, but it won't be ready until 2016.
The Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles hosts the National Air and Space Museum.
Washington Dulles International Airport (IATA: IAD, ICAO: KIAD, FAA LID: IAD) is one of Washington D.C.'s international airports. It is named after John Foster Dulles the former U.S. Secretary of State under Dwight D. Eisenhower and was built in 1962. It is located 25 miles from downtown D.C. Dulles hosts between 1,800-2,000 flights a day and is the second busiest trans-Atlantic gateway on the Eastern Seaboard. Clean and beautifully styled, it is one of the nation's nicest and cleanest airports. The airport takes up 11,000 acres and is on the border between Fairfax and Loudoun Counties in Virginia. The airport sits atop the former unincorporated community of Willard which was torn down in 1958 to make room for Dulles. Roads, stores, and schools were demolished for the building of the runways. Dulles is the home to the famous airplane crashes of TWA Flight 514 that crashed into Mount Weather in December 1974; A 1994 crash of a Mexican air carrier TAESA; and the infamous flight from Dulles - American Airlines Flight 77 that was crashed into the Pentagon during the September 11, 2001 attacks. It is also the setting of several movies such as the 1964 film Seven Days in May and Die Hard 2: Die Harder as well as the films Airport 1975, Airport '77, The Concorde: Airport '79, The Hunt for Red October, and various X-Files episodes, an episode of The Simpsons, and Need for Speed: Underground 2. Rating: 4 stars out of 5.
If you're flying into and/or out of Washington, and don't want to fight the traffic all the way out to Dulles or BWI airport, take the Metro to Reagan National. With direct flights to most eastern cities, it's located on the Yellow Line, south of Alexandria.
A better and faster way to arrive in D.C. by plane is the domestic National Airport, cause it is in the city and connected to the Metro. (The international & domestic Dulles Airport is about 50 minutes away by car.)
I arrived and departed from Washington Dulles Airport, which is the main Airport for International flights.
The airport is about an hour out of DC and can be reached by Cab, or by Metro and bus
The cheapest route is to get the Washington Flyer Coach to West Falls Church Metro station, and then from there the Metro into the city.
I also want to add that if you are at Dulles airport to have a lookout for what I called "moonbuggies". They transfer people between terminals, and they the strangest little buggie things I have ever seen. I have attached some pictures of some, they are very peculiar!
The airport terminal is also very retro looking so also good to take some pics of it, as I thought it looked very cool.
Make sure you get to the airport in good time as transportation between terminal builings are via those weird buggies, or you have to walk long distance, so make sure you leave enough time to reach your gate.
DCA is now known as Ronald Regan Washington National Airport, and coming from another part of the US, this was the most convenient airport for me to work with. The airport is smaller than BWI, and has tighter security as it's right across the river from the Capitol itself! This made landing and take offs quite interesting as you got to see so many sights from the air :)
I didn't find shopping there very special, but enjoyed the shorter security lines, and shhhhhh - there is ONE smoking area in the entire airport! It's off in the Continental terminal - gate 14ish I believe ... I found it by mistake, but was able to munch, smoke, and visit w/ other travelers while waiting for my boarding begin - right across the hall - aaahhhhh feeding my addiction AND convenience! Who could ask for more? So if you are an addict of nicotine, look for Foggy Botton Brew Pub inside the airport!
I do have to say coming back through here after visiting Toronto was a security trial :) I went through luggage hand searches, Xrays and got into the airport. At my gate to board, another hand search and wanding was conducted. According the the workers at the Toronto airport, since they are considered an international flight, they have to comply with these extra screening proceedures to be able to land at DCA - otherwise they can't continue to service this particular airport! So be aware, with this airport so close to DC, you just might find out you have to got through the mill to get there :)
You can arrive into DC via this very handy airport that sits on the Potomac River. It has one of the shortest runways, but I find it exciting, as it runs parallel to the Potomac. My bro, who's a pilot, told me the way you fly into National, is that you line up the plane with the Potomac, and take your best shot...LOL.. You can get the metro from the airport and be in DC with in minutes.~
There are three airports which serve Washington, DC, Northern Virginia, and the Maryland suburbs:
1. Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) located in Arlington, Virginia, approximately 5 miles south of downtown Washington, D.C.
2. Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) located both in Fairfax and Loundoun county, approximately 26 miles west of downtown Washington, D.C. (23 mi to Arlington) on the Fairfax-Loudoun County line.
3. Baltimore/Washington International Airport (BWI) located in Maryland, 32 miles northeast of downtown Washington, DC (38 mi to Arlington) and 10 mi south of downtown Baltimore.
FROM AIRPORTS TO DOWNTOWN WASHINGTON, DC
1. DCA (10 min.)
- there is metro station (on my picture) adjacent to Terminals B and C (on level 2; yellow and blue line); take yellow line to L'Enfant Plaza station (direction Largo Mt Vernon Sq 7th St - Convention Center; fourth station; 10 min.; fare: $1.35 or $1.40 on peak hours); more options here.
2. IAD (approx. 50 min. - 1 hour)
- take Express metrobus 5A to L'Enfant Plaza ($3.00 paid at driver, get change ready); ask for free transfer if you are going to continue travel by either other metrobuses or metrorails. Timetable: here. Warning: the jorney may take longer time in rush hours. More options here.
3. BWI (approx. 40 min.)
Take an Amtrak train to Washington?s Union Station. It costs $13.00. Details here. Other options here.