Airports / Flights to D.C., Washington D.C.
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.~
This airport is about 40 miles out from Washington DC. If you are going to Washington DC for travel on an international flight, this is not usually the airport of choice. Flights are usually more expensive because of the convenience factor for those living in the area. Domestic flights can be less expensive though if you are flying in from or out to the continental US.
To connect to Washington DC from here, there is the BWI Express Bus. This service connects you from BWI to the Greenbelt Metrorail Station and from there you can connect to your DC points. This service will cost you $3, seniors and disabled $0.60. Check out their website for more details: www.wmata.com.
There is also the commuter train or the MARC train that runs Monday through Friday. This can be a bit confusing because some of the MARC trains are run by AMTRAK (see below). This departs from BWI Rail Station and takes you to Union Station in Washington DC for $6 and can be purchased at the rail station. Check out their website for more information: www.mtamaryland.com
There is also the AMTRAK service. This is the United States Rail service. It also provides many local transportation routes. There is a transfer shuttle that will take you from the airport to the BWI Rail Station. From there you can get to Union Station in Washington DC. Tickets range from $13 to $38 depending on if you choose regional service or the Acela Express (just FYI, they have a two carry-on and three checked baggage limit). Because the trains run on a scedule, you have to purchase tickets ahead of time. You can reserve them on-line at www.amtrak.com.
Of course there is taxi service and the Supershuttle I mentioned in the IAD/DCA tip. Check out BWIs comprehensive website for more details.
Dulles International Airport (Airport Code: IAD) is located approximately 25 miles (40 km) west of Washington, DC. If you are flying to Washington from outside North America, this is the airport you will most likely use. A hub airport for United Airlines, Dulles Airport also receives flights from 38 other airlines, from Aeroflot to Virgin Atlantic.
While there are a mind-boggling number of gates, arrival is easy. The new Aerotrain system has replaced the old mobile lounges, making travel within the airport much faster. Follow the instructions and take the train to your desired station.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT, while improving, is still quite limited. Metrobus 5A departs every 40 minutes (once per hour weekends) from Dulles (lower level) to the Rosslyn and L'Enfant Plaza Metro stops. Cost is $7, pay on the bus by feeding your money into the machine next to the driver. $1 and $5 bills accepted, but no change is returned. Your other option is the Silver Line Express bus that departs every 15-20 minutes from Dulles (upper level) to the Wiehle/Reston East Metro station on the new Silver Line (The Silver Line will eventually depart from Dulles Airport itself, anticipated completion in 2020). Cost as of October 2014 is $5 each way, pay at the booth before you board the bus. Credit cards accepted.
RENTAL CARS: There are a great many car rental companies that serve Dulles Airport, but all of them are located a significant distance from the airport. Marked shuttle buses will take you from curbside to the appropriate parking lot. Once you get your car, there is a designated toll-free road that will take you to the Beltway and Interstate 66.
TAXIS: Only the Washington Flyer Taxi is allowed to pick up passengers at the Airport. Cost from Dulles to Washington is approximately $65 plus tip.
There are three airports in the area of Washington DC.
Ronald Reagan National Airport is the closest and best connected to the city, only 4 miles from downtown and connected to the city by metro.
Dulles International Airport is 26 miles from the city center and is not connected by metro
Baltimore-Washington International (BWI) is the third option, you can get to Washington DC's Union Station by Amtrak or MARC train
For cheap airfares, take a look at ATA which flies into Reagan or Southwest which flies into BWI
These are the two main airports that service the Washington DC metro area.
REAGAN NATIONAL AIRPORT (DCA)
This airport easily accesses most points in the Washington DC metro area. There is the convenient metrorail service that connects you from here to many points in the Washington DC metropolitan area, including Virginia and Maryland. Stops are adjacent to terminals B and C.
There are also the taxicab service that is available. Rates vary depending on where you want to go. You can get to most anywhere in DC for under $20 (e.g. Georgetown $12, US Capitol $9, etc.) Within the immediate surrounding area of DC will cost you between $21 and $30. If you want to get to Baltimore-Washington International Airport, that would run you about $67. These are approximate rates, but it does give you an idea of the cost of the service.
You can also hop onto the Supershuttle. This is a door-to-door service that operates on a reservation system. You can find out more about them at www.supershuttle.com.
DULLES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (IAD)
This airport is actually located in Dulles, Virginia, but it does offer easy access to Washington DC.
You can connect to Washington DC by using their Washington Flyer Coach service. It takes you from the airport to West Falls Church Metrorail. From there, you can connect to your points in Washington DC. You can purchase your tickets at the Ground Transportation Centers' ticket counter located inside the vestibule of Door 4 on the Arrivals Level. Boarding is located at the Main Terminal at Door 4. This will cost you $8 for a single trip and $14 for round-trip. If you are arriving and leaving from Dulles, purchase your round-trip ticket because they don't sell tickets at the metrorail station. Check out their website at www.washfly.com.
There is also the taxi service.Taxi prices from Dulles are pretty hefty and I don't recommend this route. For example Capitol Hill $47, White House $44, BWI $97.
The Supershuttle I mentioned above is also available from this airport.
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.
Ronald Reagan International Airport has to be one of the United States' nicest. It was my first time using it and it was a pleasure. We flew from Fort Lauderdale to Ronald Reagan Airport on US Air and though it was not a direct flight, since it was a fairly short one, it was pleasant enough and at approximately $180 R/T each, about the least expensive we could find.
The airport is quite pleasant and with a huge US flag dangling down from its rafters, I can't imagine a better way to enter the city than by air and by arriving at this very airport. It is also very easy to get into town from Ronald Reagan as it is on two Metrorail lines. It was the reason we chose Rosslyn to stay as it was on the one of these lines as well. The ten minute trip costs only $1.45 each. Though common in Europe, this is one of the few towns that has good rail service to its airport.
MY favorite airport here by far is DCA. It is closer to the city and AA has good service here. Paired up with a metro connection and extremely easy access to Alexandria, Arlington or downtown Washington you could easily make a quick trip into the city on a long layover or wait longer before leaving on your next trip out of there.
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.
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (Airport Code: DCA), or "National" as it's known by locals for reasons of brevity and/or politics, is by far the airport most convenient to Washington. Just across the river from the city, Reagan National Airport is the choice of business travelers and politicians. A hub for US Airways, it also receives flights from 10 other US carriers as well as Air Canada. Reagan National Airport only has direct flights to destinations in the USA and Canada, though international travelers can arrive at the airport after arriving in another airport (such as Philadelphia) and transferring to a domestic flight.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Reagan National Airport has its own Metro station, served by the Yellow and Blue Lines. The Yellow Line in the direction of Fort Totten will take you directly into the city. Fare is $1.60 or more, depending on your destination and time of day. Tickets can be purchased from machines outside the Metro gates; credit cards are accepted.
RENTAL CARS: Shuttle buses can take you to your rental car, though it's only about a 1/4 mile (500 meter) walk to most companies. However, some companies, such as Thrifty, National, and Enterprise, are more than 1 mile (2 km) away on Jefferson Davis Highway.
TAXIS are very expensive. A taxi ride downtown will normally cost $20 or more. Unless you have a lot of luggage, the Metro is a much better option.
Baltimore/Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (or "BWI" for short -- also its Airport Code), is about 30 miles (50 km) northeast of Washington. Most domestic budget flights arrive at this airport. A hub for the U.S. budget carriers Airtran Airways and Southwest Airlines, BWI also receives flights from 14 other airlines, including international carriers Air Canada, Air Jamaica, and British Airways. Daily direct service is available from Toronto and London-Heathrow to BWI. There is also weekly nonstop service from BWI to Ghana, Nigeria, Jamaica, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico.
PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION: Metrobus B30 departs from BWI to the Greenbelt Metro Station every 40 minutes. Cost is $6. You pay by feeding your money into the machine next to the driver. $1 and $5 bills are accepted, but no change is returned. Travel time is about 30 minutes to Greenbelt. From Greenbelt, the Metro ride downtown takes about 30 additional minutes. Fare from Greenbelt to L'Enfant Plaza in Washington ranges from $2.75 to $4.65, depending on the day and time of your trip.
RAIL: From the terminal, you can take a free shuttle bus to the BWI Rail Station. From there, you can take either the MARC Commuter Train ($6, approximately every hour Monday-Friday only, 40 minutes) or the AMTRAK train (roughly every hour, fare varies but usually $14, 25 minutes) to Washington's Union Station.
RENTAL CARS are at a separate facility. A free shuttle will get you there from the terminal in 10 minutes.
TAXIS to Washington are prohibitively expensive, though shuttle van service is available. Check the website below for details.
One final note: You cannot go between the Domestic and International terminals without passing through security. While there is an excellent food court inside the Domestic terminal, the lone food stand inside the International terminal is terrible.
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.
DCA is a pleasant airport to land in, indeed. Not only can you walk across a covered walkway to a modern, clean metro system taking you anywhere around the metropolitan area safely, quickly, and inexpensively....but the airport building is a rather pleasant place to be. There are seating areas with loads of daylight windows, a masseuse on duty, restaurants and kiosks that have healthy foods included in their offerings. I've travelled thru DC numerous times over the years and the improvements to their facility and infrastructure of the city continue to intrigue and delight me. These folks know how to move crowds...for sure.
I recommend DC airport highly.
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.
I flew into Balt because I wanted to leave from Balt after Baltoberfest(verrrry wise move). In addition it's cheaper to fly into Balt instead of DC for me. But arriving on a saturday, my options were only Amtrak, or so I thought. The cheap MARC doesn run on weekends. I missed my stop at the Amtrak stations (which is where the MARC station is, unbeknownst to me) and ended up back at BWI on the shuttle bus.
The bus driver told me of another way, taking what amounts to a commuter/city bus to the beginning of the DC subway system. She even had printed out instructions on a sheet to give me and a few others. She said it was only $3, much cheaper than the $18 Amtrack ticket. So I said why not.
In BWI, on the island between the shuttle busses and the cabs is where the city busses stop. You need to wait for the bus #B30 -Greenbelt . Get on, pay $3 in exact change/bills, and sit back for about 30 minutes while you drive thru the MD countryside to a Park 'n Ride where the GREEN line in the DC subway system starts--a place called 'Greenbelt'.
Then when there, go into the station, veer left and use one of the about 8 machines to buy your metro pass for the day, week or whatever. Go up and catch the train waiting for you and you're in downtown DC in about 10 minutes.