"Getting to Dulles Airport: The $3 Option" Airports / Flights to D.C. Tip by gilabrand

  5A Express at Rosslyn Station
by gilabrand
 
 

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.

Mode: TO
Phone: 202-637-7000
Type: Bus
Website: http://www.wmata.com/timetables/dc/5a.pdf

Review Helpfulness: 3.5 out of 5 stars

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  • Updated Aug 1, 2012
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gilabrand

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