Getting between Reagan National and Dulles airports is easier than it used to be, but you should still allow at least 4-5 hours between flights.
Go to the airport Metro station, buy a ticket to Wiehle-Reston East. Take the Blue Line (direction: Largo Town Center) to Rosslyn. At Rosslyn, take the escalator downstairs and change for the Silver Line to Wiehle - Reston East. At Wiehle, follow the signs to the Washington Flyer bus. Metro fare to Wiehle is between $3.60 and $5.90, depending on time of day. There is a $1 surcharge if you use a paper ticket. One-way fare on the Silver Line Express bus from Wiehle to Dulles is $5.
If you have more money than time, you can arrange for a shuttle van to drive you from Reagan to Dulles. A good choice is SuperShuttle. They are offering a private van between the two airports for up to 7 people for about $150. Take a look at http://www.supershuttle.com for details if interested. Be warned that it can still take up to 2 hours to get from Reagan National to Dulles if the traffic is bad.
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.
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 its 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.
There are three airports located in the Washington area: the Baltimore-Washington Airport (BWU), Dulles Airport (IAD), and Ronald Reagan Airport (DCA). While the first two are international airports, if you're flying from within the US or from Canada, I'd say DCA is the most convenient because it is located quite close to the city and there's a subway station located right at the airport (but you do need to do a fair amount of walking to reach it) that makes it easy to travel to the downtown area. My only complaint is that there weren't a whole lot of dining or shopping options in the terminal once we got through security for the flight home, which made our wait slightly boring.
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.
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.