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The Future of Dulles Airport [and Metro line]

The Future of Dulles Airport [and Metro line]

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Old Dec 21, 09, 10:10 pm
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The Future of Dulles Airport [and Metro line]

Dulles Airport (IAD) has come a long way in the last few years. Concourse B is fully built out, there is now an underground walkway to Concourse B, the fourth runway is open, the new ATC tower is open, the Z gates are open, and more. In addition, of course, the new security checkpoint is now open, which has made the Eero Saarinen main terminal a lot more spacious and beautiful, and next month the underground train will open linking the main terminal with Concourses A, B, and C. The first part of the International Arrivals Building renovation is complete, and within the next two years the baggage carousels will be replaced and the entire IAB will be in great shape. All of this will occur as construction is ongoing for the Silver Line, which will link IAD with the Washington Metro system by the end of this decade.

All of these are amazing accomplishments, and travelling from IAD is much nicer now than it was a few years ago. However, one MAJOR negative for the entire airport is the state of Concourse C/D. I travelled from there last week. It is such a throwback to the 1980s, and is not well suited for the global hub operation that United has at IAD. It is almost sad seeing United flights depart to such global destinations as London and Tokyo from the old gates of Concourse C. The place feels "temporary" in every sense of the word...But it has been over twenty years since it opened now!

I know that the aeroTrain Concourse C station was built at the site of the future mid-field Concourse that will eventually replace C/D. Does anybody know when United or MWAA might finalize plans to start construction on this? With the aeroTrain set to open (hopefully) in January, there will be no "major" construction projects going on at Dulles so it seems to be a good time to start tackling the last major problem. I know that there was some issue as to how responsible MWAA should be for funding since it will not be a common-use facility, but United can't be expected to tackle such a huge terminal construction project alone. MWAA and United need to get their act together because although the current setup works, it is not the most conducive for United's IAD operation going forward. Also, the aeroTrain will eventually have to be extended to the new Concourse D, which will likely be a major construction project by itself.

If MWAA and/or United build a Concourse C/D replacement, United can consolidate its entire operation there, thus freeing Concourse A, which can be shut down. A future Concourse C/D can look like the McNamara Terminal at DTW, which is a world-class facility. Combined with all of the other amazing changes going on at IAD, the airport deserves a new Concourse C/D. If and when it is built, IAD will be one of the nicest airports in the United States.

One other thought: If and when MWAA extends the aeroTrain towards the new Concourse D, they should consider adding a separate track for a dedicated train to bring passengers to the IAB facility.

This is my first post on FlyerTalk. I look forward to hearing your comments!
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Old Dec 22, 09, 5:28 am
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Welcome to Flyertalk! While the changes have been nice, I don't think its catapulted IAD anywhere near the top of the list (although US airports are generally in such poor shape, esp in comparison to european/asian ones).

I haven't checked the MWAA/IAD site, but I don't think construction is over yet ... the train will eventually be a loop, I thought the first part of what they are opening was a back/forth track. We have some FT members that help out at the airport and others that are very knowledgeable about the inner workings who I am sure will chime in on that point.
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Old Dec 22, 09, 9:37 am
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i've been using IAD for the last 10 years, and yes, it has improved vastly. the main terminal building is actually really, really nice now. once the trains get moving, i think it will move it a step forward.

yes, C/D is awful. but until MWAA gets their act together, i feel that's what we will be stuck with for a while. once metro goes out there, and the new C/D is built, you can only hope IAD jumps to the top of the list in terms of great US airports.

anyone that experience concourse G can agree, the airport has come a long way.
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Old Dec 26, 09, 12:14 pm
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Originally Posted by Washingtonian819 View Post
With the aeroTrain set to open (hopefully) in January, there will be no "major" construction projects going on at Dulles so it seems to be a good time to start tackling the last major problem.
Well, they are working on the Metro.

I too would like to see the temporary C/D dump replaced with a nicer terminal but I can't imagine UA and other IAD carriers want to get hit with higher usage fees.
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Old Dec 28, 09, 1:34 pm
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One thing that would improve the Dulles experience would be to eliminate the "phone ringing" noise that leads off every PA announcement. It is headache-inducing.

C/D is kind of a dump, but with the tunnel to the aerotrain in place, hopefully within the next six months, the airport experience shouldn't be that bad. It is never going to measure up to DCA for O&D ease of use but DCA can't accommodate the same volume of traffic as IAD.
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Old Dec 31, 09, 10:11 am
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Originally Posted by lawchild View Post
C/D is kind of a dump, but with the tunnel to the aerotrain in place, hopefully within the next six months, the airport experience shouldn't be that bad. It is never going to measure up to DCA for O&D ease of use but DCA can't accommodate the same volume of traffic as IAD.
For the 1MM people who live in Fairfax County,300K who live in Loudoun, and 350k who live in Prince William County, DCA requires a long trek into the heart of killer traffic.
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Old Dec 31, 09, 9:19 pm
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Originally Posted by jmr50 View Post
For the 1MM people who live in Fairfax County,300K who live in Loudoun, and 350k who live in Prince William County, DCA requires a long trek into the heart of killer traffic.
+1
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Old Jan 3, 10, 2:32 pm
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Originally Posted by jmr50 View Post
For the 1MM people who live in Fairfax County,300K who live in Loudoun, and 350k who live in Prince William County, DCA requires a long trek into the heart of killer traffic.
For a substantial portion of the Fairfax County and Prince William County residents, the Virginia 28 Freeway project ranks right up there with the Metro when it comes to increasing access to the airport. Thankfully that one's mostly done now too, with the Willard and Frying Pan interchanges open now.

The Metro won't change the fact that IAD is just plain far away from the heart of DC. (Heck, for people going into DC, it won't really be faster than the express bus.) It'll make more difference for Tyson's, Herndon, and Reston.
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Old Jan 8, 10, 6:26 pm
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Originally Posted by John Thacker View Post
For a substantial portion of the Fairfax County and Prince William County residents, the Virginia 28 Freeway project ranks right up there with the Metro when it comes to increasing access to the airport. Thankfully that one's mostly done now too, with the Willard and Frying Pan interchanges open now.
You are absolutely correct. I can shave off almost 15 minutes during rush hour coming to IAD from northern Prince William County.
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Old Jan 9, 10, 6:40 am
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dca is not very good for long flights. i do not think they even have a customs/immigration. transatlantic is very painful.

iad has brought a huge number of international companies to the"Dulles corridor" and surrounding ares due to the convenience of international flights, and the proximity to washington money.
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Old Jan 11, 10, 1:33 pm
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Originally Posted by slawecki View Post
dca is not very good for long flights. i do not think they even have a customs/immigration. transatlantic is very painful.

iad has brought a huge number of international companies to the"Dulles corridor" and surrounding ares due to the convenience of international flights, and the proximity to washington money.
DCA has very limited transcons/midcons (LAS, LAX, SEA, DEN, and PHX)...it is great if you're downtown.

if you're in the duller corridor, then sure, IAD is better.

and no, DCA has no customs facilities for commercial flights. however, i prefer DCA over IAD.
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Old Feb 6, 10, 3:10 pm
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Originally Posted by whlinder View Post
Well, they are working on the Metro.
I like IAD. It was my first experience of the US, years ago. Glad to see and hear it is improving. The metro link will be great.
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Old Feb 6, 10, 8:31 pm
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Yes, with these ongoing improvements, Dulles is poised to enter the 21st century with respect to major airports, within the next 10 years or so.
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Old Feb 8, 10, 2:12 pm
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Originally Posted by haddon90 View Post
DCA has very limited transcons/midcons (LAS, LAX, SEA, DEN, and PHX)...it is great if you're downtown.

if you're in the duller corridor, then sure, IAD is better.

and no, DCA has no customs facilities for commercial flights. however, i prefer DCA over IAD.
Don't forget about SLC.
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Old May 25, 10, 3:13 pm
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Thumbs down Dulles improvements?

If IAD has improved, I'd sure love to know how. Where do I even begin skewering this dump?

My first piece of advice would be to avoid flying with United from Dulles. The queues are outrageous and would even make a queue-friendly Swede blush. Little do our guests know what waits for them beneath that shiny new facade downstairs: another monster, slow moving, awful awful queue. I mean it's amusement park pathetic. The security check-points were much faster upstairs and it felt a lot less like some cattle-call. I thought the point was to make the airport more airy feeling? Now, once you descend to the "new" security checkpoint, you feel like you're awaiting to board some haunted house ride. Half of the security lane capacity downstairs is not even being used. I'd say they could install about 8-10 more lanes; assuming your comfort and time were of any value to MWAA. Now all of this is only if you're 'departing' from this catastrophe.

Arriving to Dulles, as an international passenger, has to be among the most unpleasant experiences one could ever hope for in an airport. After leaving your plane, you walk in a single-file line through a very narrow corridor for what seems like ages. It's a wonderful feeling after a 9 hour flight. When that trek is over, you are packed like a sardine into one of those people movers. They are hardly ever within any comfortable climate range. I hope you ensured to organize yourself while on the plane, because you won't have the elbow room to take a piece of chewing gum out of your purse on that thing. Don't even get me started with how they speak to the long-haul arrival passengers. I've witnessed employees berating even children and elderly non-English speakers about not leaving enough space on those rejected lunar-landers. Next up: yes, another queue! And boy, I bet you can't wait for how you will be treated by our super friendly CBP employees. Don't ask me why, but they are super nasty at DFW and IAD. My wife, a green card holder, was asked the most inane questions I have ever witnessed being asked of a person. Trust me, I am in the field of national security and know the difference between a probing question and one of irrelevance. When you come out of there, good luck finding your bag. It will likely be in a pile somewhere, completely inaccesible because it is surrounded by other bags courtesy of the equally nasty airport employees. Then, if you can't afford the $9/day "economy" parking at some lot that takes 30 minutes by bus, you are most likely unfortunate enough to require the services of the infamous monopoly that is the Washington Flyer taxi; by far the rudest, most inhospitable taxi service ever created. Most recently, the driver didn't even speak a single word to me. When I attempted to tell him my address, he handed me his GPS. To expedite the process, I simply put it in and that was the last word spoken. He did, however, complain when I tried to pay with my credit card: "No cash?!?!" Good luck if you are unfamiliar with technology and don't carry cash.

Still want to use Dulles airport? Just don't try it if you need wheelchair assistance. One time I had a pretty severe injury and required to be wheeled a short distance. When being dropped at the curb and before having a chance to think of whether or not I would tip the guy, the employee held out his hand like some bell-hop. Like a fool, I went to my wallet for a tip and had absolutely no US cash. The guy literally said to me, "Oh, come on man!", and disappeared from sight. On the same trip, I tried tipping the European equivalent employee who absolutely refused my tip; twice.

Do yourself a favor and find a reason to visit a relative near some other airport.
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