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A basic guide to WAS and its airports

A basic guide to WAS and its airports

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Old Jun 27, 06, 4:16 pm
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A basic guide to WAS and its airports

It seems a lot of the posts in this forum are transportation & airport type questions, so I hope this helps:

A basic guide to Washington & its airports…

Airport, Parking, and Public Transportation info:

DCA & IAD information

BWI information

BWI Parking coupons (usually Econopark or Airport Fastpark is the cheapest & Airport Fastpark has a Frequent Parker Program) :
-BWI’s lot - if a coupon is available, there will be a link on this page.
-Econopark Express
-Airport FastPark
- A lot of the hotels offer Park & Fly packaged rates if you have an early AM flight.

DCA & IAD don't have privatized parking - only the airport lots.

For DCA, if you're going cheap, you can park in Arlington neighborhoods & take public transportation to the airport. Also, you can see if any of the local hotels are offering Park & Fly package rates (with an overnight room). DCA has economy parking for 10/day & parking garage parking for 15/day.

For IAD, there is the 10/day economy lots & the 17/day garages & a 30/first day & 17 every day after valet parking. Depending on how long your trip is, you may want to check out the 5A line's parking lots (see the link to bus line 5A below & see choster's poste below regarding fare increases) - where I believe overnight parking is allowed. Note that if you do park in the Daily Garage 1 (17/day) there's an underground walkway which may be faster during non-peak travel times - from Daily Garage 2, there's a covered above ground walkway.

Washington Metro Area Transit Authority’s website – Here, you’ll find links to bus & rail maps and timetables. There are some good features here, including the Metro trip planner and the Metrorail system map.

Here's a link to a thread regarding MetroBus passes that answer a lot of questions folks may have: Public Transportation (WMATA) - FAQs

Washington Flyer Bus service – a bus service that provides shuttle service between IAD & the West Falls Church Metro station (Orange line) – currently $10 OW & $18 RT.

Getting to/from the airports & downtown DC:

You’ve got several options to get to DC from the various airports. You can rent a car (note that at BWI, the car rental facilities are off-airport – At Dulles, you need to take a shuttle, but the lots are technically onsite - only at National, are they on-site), you can take a cab or SuperShuttle, or you can use public transportation.

All of the major car rental company’s are represented at all three airports, so if that is your preferred method, you’re good to go.

If you’re trying to cab it into the city from the airport, this is the more expensive than public transportation.

Here’s an approximate price list:

-From IAD

-From DCA – if memory serves me correctly, you will actually be given this sheet from the taxi dispatch guy.

-From BWI

Using public transportation to/from the airports: (click on the airport for more information)

-IAD – the only way you can get to/from IAD currently via metrorail is to take the orange line to the West Falls Church station & then hop on the aforementioned Washington Flyer bus to the airport (or vice versa). You also have the option of taking Metrobus 5A which is a normal metrobus & costs $6 each way per techboyds post below – this is by far the absolute cheapest way to get to/from IAD to DC or Arlington, VA.

-DCA – both the Blue & the Yellow metrorail lines go to DCA. Note if you’re flying out of Terminal A, it’s a long walk & you may want to take the airport shuttle to Terminal A. The 13F and 13G provide early morning service (from 5:56 to 8:01 AM on Sat and from 6:10 to 7:59 on Sun) from downtown DC to DCA on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. Since on weekends the first Metro trains don't hit DCA until between 7:10 and 7:41, depending on what direction you're coming from, these can be essential if you're trying to catch an early morning flight. (thanks ambyr!)

-BWI – BWI has by far the most options – and it should, given the fact that it’s so far from DC! You can take Amtrak to the BWI station & catch a free bus from the train station to the airport – note, if you’re doing this option, whereas you don’t really always need to pre-purchase your tickets, it can be useful to do so – that, and make sure your flight schedules are coordinated with Amtrak’s schedule. If you need to get to other parts of Maryland & DC isn’t your final destination, you can also check out the MARC trains. BWI has a light rail connection to Baltimore (and the northern suburbs as far as Hunt Valley). Unlike Amtrak, it leaves from the International Terminal, so you don't have an extra shuttle bus connection to worry about. On the other hand, it moves at a snail's pace. Lastly, if you want to use the metrorail system, you can take the B30 bus line to the Greenbelt metro station (Green line).

To go between airports:

From IAD to DCA (and vice versa): The most economical way, if you have at least a 4 hour connection, would be to take the combination of the metro & the 5A bus. If you have at least 3 hours, then the best way would be to take the Washington Flyer bus & then the metro rail (and others, feel free to correct me if I’m wrong). The fastest way would be SuperShuttle or a cab. I think a cab would be about 50-60 bucks.

From IAD-BWI (and vice versa): There really isn’t a good way if you have less than four hours & you don’t know how traffic’s going to be, I’d consider changing flights personally. The best way is to cab it – which I’m guessing would run easily 80-100 bucks (I’ve never done it, but I imagine it’d be expensive). If you’ve got a while, you can use the metro options listed above.

From DCA-BWI (and vice versa): This one is a little easier since the metro is right there at DCA & it’s a 30 minute bus-ride from Greenbelt to BWI. The commute time on the metro would be at least an hour or so.


Some useful threads about DC & Baltimore:

The DC Monthly Happy Hours thread

Where do you take your visitors when they come to Washington DC?

Memorable dining in DC

Suggestions for Visitors in Baltimore

Washington Post’s Guide to DC area airports (thanks, wittingm!)

Coming to DC with Teenagers?

Where to eat near DCA?

Leaving DC...what's one thing I need to do before I go

What to see in DC- just 1 day

Planning a weekend in DC...

Last edited by bhatnasx; Sep 15, 11 at 5:26 pm Reason: updated taxi fare lists & metro maps - thanks You want to go where?!
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Old Jan 11, 08, 9:26 am
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FYI Metro has raised its fares, so the 5A Metrobus is $3.10 for cash riders (it remains $3 for SmarTrip users), and the transfer from Metrorail rises to $2.20 cash ($2.10 for SmarTrip users). Further, bus tokens and paper passes are being phased out over this year, so riders who frequent mass transit in Washington should look into buying a SmarTrip card.
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Old Jan 12, 08, 12:06 am
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Thanks for the info, choster - I've updated above.
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Old Jan 16, 08, 3:09 pm
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Bus to DCA

At this time, I don’t believe any metro buses go to DCA, but if I’m wrong, someone please let me know & I’ll edit this post.
The 13F and 13G provide early morning service (from 5:56 to 8:01 AM on Sat and from 6:10 to 7:59 on Sun) from downtown DC to DCA on Saturday, Sunday, and holidays. Since on weekends the first Metro trains don't hit DCA until between 7:10 and 7:41, depending on what direction you're coming from, these can be essential if you're trying to catch an early morning flight.

You might also want to mention that BWI has a light rail connection to Baltimore (and the northern suburbs as far as Hunt Valley). Unlike Amtrak, I believe it actually leaves from the terminal, so you don't have an extra shuttle bus connection to worry about. On the other hand, it moves at a snail's pace

Last edited by ambyr; Jan 16, 08 at 3:22 pm
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Old Jan 16, 08, 6:42 pm
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Thanks, ambyr - I've updated the post. Welcome to FlyerTalk!
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Old Jan 17, 08, 4:42 am
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Originally Posted by ambyr View Post
You might also want to mention that BWI has a light rail connection to Baltimore (and the northern suburbs as far as Hunt Valley). Unlike Amtrak, I believe it actually leaves from the terminal, so you don't have an extra shuttle bus connection to worry about. On the other hand, it moves at a snail's pace
I can confirm that it does leave from the terminal, way down by the international terminal.

And yeah, it's not the fastest system in the world either.
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Old Sep 4, 09, 8:56 am
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The link for parking at BWI needs updating.

Airport Fast Park at BWI also changed its page.

Thanks for consolidating all the info!
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Old Sep 6, 09, 3:48 pm
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Originally Posted by Owlchick View Post
The link for parking at BWI needs updating.

Airport Fast Park at BWI also changed its page.

Thanks for consolidating all the info!

Thanks, Owlchick! I moved to Vegas almost a year ago & haven't been keeping as updated on the this thread! Appreciate the looking out!
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Old Dec 13, 09, 7:41 am
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When I rode the MARC train up to BWI a few months back, it dropped me off at some remote parking garage and required a shuttle bus to the main terminal... is this new?
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Old Dec 13, 09, 7:48 am
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Originally Posted by nevansm View Post
When I rode the MARC train up to BWI a few months back, it dropped me off at some remote parking garage and required a shuttle bus to the main terminal... is this new?
No, the train tracks have always been where they are and the airport has always been where it is. When traveling to BWI from the District, allow about 20 minutes from when you step off the train to when you arrive at the terminal.
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Old Jul 5, 10, 10:11 am
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The 5A to/from IAD is now $6.
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Old Jul 6, 10, 9:58 am
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Originally Posted by techboyds View Post
The 5A to/from IAD is now $6.
Just to add that the $6 fare is the same whether paying with exact cash or a SmarTrip card. (Previously there was a surcharge when paying cash.)
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Old Jul 10, 10, 4:54 pm
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Originally Posted by techboyds View Post
The 5A to/from IAD is now $6.
Updated - thanks!
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Old Aug 25, 10, 2:29 pm
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Would it be possible to add info for airport hotels to the above?
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Old Oct 16, 10, 5:34 am
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Originally Posted by Annandaler View Post
Just to add that the $6 fare is the same whether paying with exact cash or a SmarTrip card. (Previously there was a surcharge when paying cash.)
The B30 MetroBus between Greenbelt and BWI is also $6 - exact fare or SmarTrip card.
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