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Getting Here: Navigating Our Airports
Reagan National, Dulles, BWI—oh, my! Don’t let choosing an airport put a kink in your travel planning. Use our handy Airport Guide to select the most convenient airport for your itinerary, with the cheapest and most convenient ways to get from here to the By Emily Leaman
Comments () | Published February 18, 2008

RONALD REAGAN WASHINGTON NATIONAL AIRPORT (ARLINGTON, VA)
The Washington area’s first major airport—it opened in 1941, 20 years before Dulles—National provides nonstop service to 74 destinations on more than a dozen airlines. It’s just four miles from downtown DC, with Metrorail access on the Yellow and Blue lines.

Quick Facts
• Airport Code: DCA
• Distance from DC: four miles
• Metrorail access? Yes
• Metrobus access? No
• Major airlines: Air Canada, AirTran, Delta, American Airlines, Northwest, Spirit, United Airlines, US Airways
• Rental-car companies: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Hertz, National, Thrifty

Getting to DC the Cheap Way
Trains on DC’s Metrorail system come right to the airport on the Blue and Yellow lines. Purchase a ticket in the train station from one of the several kiosks. Check a rail map to decide which line to take—they both go to DC, just to different locations—but you should board a train heading toward either Georgia Avenue-Petworth on the Yellow Line or Largo Town Center on the Blue. On the Yellow Line, the third stop, L’Enfant Plaza, is the first station within the District. On the Blue, the first DC stop is Foggy Bottom-GWU, the sixth stop on your ride from the airport. Cost per passenger, $1.35; travel time, ten minutes.

Getting to DC the Convenient Way

Though riding Metrorail is hardly inconvenient because the airport is so close to the District, a more direct way to get to your destination might be a taxicab. Taxi stands are located near the baggage-claim exits of each terminal, and dispatchers at each stand will help you select a cab based on where you’re headed. Taxis are available on a first-come, first-served basis. Cost to downtown DC, $11 plus surcharges; travel time, ten minutes.

BALTIMORE/WASHINGTON INTERNATIONAL THURGOOD MARSHALL AIRPORT (LINTHICUM, MD)
Though BWI, as the airport is known, is closer to Baltimore than to DC, many Washingtonians consider the extra legwork worth it: Flights to some destinations are often cheaper from BWI than from National and Dulles, and though the discount airline Southwest flies in and out of both BWI and Dulles, it offers more flights and destinations at BWI.

Quick Facts
• Airport Code: BWI
• Distance from DC: 32 miles
• Metrorail access? No
• Metrobus access? No
• Major airlines: AirTran, British Airways, Delta, North American, Southwest, United Airlines, US Airways
• Rental-car companies: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Thrifty

Getting to DC the Cheap Way
• From the baggage-claim area, hop on a free airport shuttle to the BWI rail station. Take the Penn Line—the southbound line of Maryland’s commuter railway, the MARC train—several stops to DC’s Union Station, near the US Capitol. Note: This service does not run on weekends. Cost per passenger, $6; travel time, 40 minutes plus up to 30 minutes waiting for airport shuttle.

• Amtrak runs both weekdays and weekends. Take the free airport shuttle to the BWI rail station and then get on an Amtrak regional-service train. Like MARC, it makes several stops and drops you at Union Station. Bonus: Amtrak gives discounts for AAA members, students, veterans, and more with proper ID. Cost per adult passenger, $12 to $20 depending on day and time; travel time, 30 minutes plus up to 30 minutes waiting for airport shuttle.

Getting to DC the Convenient Way
SuperShuttle provides shared-ride door-to-door service from the airport to your destination. Purchase tickets in advance via the Web or at the ticket counters located near baggage claim areas 1 and 10. Cost, $35 for first passenger, $12 per additional passenger; travel time varies depending on number of stops.

WASHINGTON DULLES INTERNATIONAL AIRPORT (DULLES, VA)
It’s not the most conveniently located airport for getting to DC—it sits 26 miles outside of the District and currently has no Metrorail service—but Dulles boasts ample flight options, with 40 international and 87 domestic destinations. It’s also the area’s busiest airport, with 23 million passengers flying in and out annually.

Quick Facts
• Airport code: IAD
• Distance from DC: 26 miles
• Metrorail access? No
• Metrobus access? Yes
• Major airlines: AirTran, American Airlines, Air France, British Airways, Delta, Southwest, United Airlines, Virgin America
• Rental-car companies: Alamo, Avis, Budget, Dollar, Enterprise, Hertz, National, Thrifty

Getting to DC the Cheap Way
• Hop on the Metrobus route 5A for service to L’Enfant Plaza in Southwest DC. The bus picks up passengers at Dulles’s ground-transportation curb 2E on the arrivals level and makes four stops en route to the city. Cost per passenger, $3.10; travel time, 50 minutes.

• For subway service from the airport, you’ll have to take a Washington Flyer Coach bus, which departs every 30 minutes from arrival door 4 in the main terminal (tickets available at the counter near the pickup point). The bus takes you to the West Falls Church Metro stop on the Orange Line, where you can purchase a ticket inside the station. Take an Orange Line train toward New Carrollton to get to DC. The train makes six stops in Virginia before coming to the first stop in DC at Foggy Bottom/GWU, about a 20-minute ride. Cost per passenger, $10.85 (for both shuttle and Metro fare); travel time, 45 minutes.

Getting to DC the Convenient Way
• Washington Flyer offers door-to-door metered taxi service, with service on demand at the airport 24 hours a day. Taxis accept major credit cards and provide service within the Washington metropolitan area. One-way fares to DC cost $51 to $58; surcharges apply for extra passengers and luggage beyond one piece per passenger.

• SuperShuttle vans provide door-to-door shared rides with other passengers traveling in the same direction. Tickets are available in advance via the Web or at ticket counters on the ground-transportation level of the main terminal. Cost, $27 for the first passenger, $10 per additional passenger; travel time varies based on number of stops.

This article is part of Washingtonian's Visitors' Guide. For more articles like it, click here.

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Posted at 04:00 PM/ET, 02/18/2008 RSS | Print | Permalink | Washingtonian.com Articles