Airport Notes: DCA

Some useful information about D.C.’s Reagan National Airport and some side-tracking as well:

Yesterday was an adrenaline day: I woke up, hauled my possessions to FedEx (I’m moving back to Michigan), and hopped on the Metro and headed to DC for the afternoon, and then flew to Michigan – all in a 12 hour period. (Plus, there was a pasta lunch and a viewing of a touring Broadway musical).

Anyway, I spent the day in D.C., and instead of going up to BWI like I usually would have, I decided to fly home from Reagan Airport, mainly because Reagan has its own Metro station, and getting there is super easy once you’re downtown. I love airports with their own subway stop (like Atlanta, although the MAARTA could use a little work).

In my experience (which pretty limited, as I’ve only flown to the Midwest and Atlanta from the DMV region – but I’ve done each of those routes multiple times), BWI tends to be cheaper than DCA. But sometimes it’s just not worth the effort of working around the MARC schedule to get from New Carrolton station to BWI, so you go to DCA.

Every other time I’ve flown out of Reagan airport I’ve flown Delta. Yesterday, I flew Southwest (with a connecting flight in Chicago, for the interested), and I had a very different airport experience.

When you exit the Metro stop, you are standing in between the C and B terminals. If you walk into the airport from the Metro, the first thing you run into is a Delta desk. Then there’s a hallway that is surprisingly accessible to the public, and if you turn right, you will eventually run into the TSA line that leads to the Delta/United/Alaska gates.

However, back at the Metro station, you had another option besides going into the airport right away. There’s a sign pointing you in the direction of a shuttle to the A terminal.

You should take that shuttle.

I missed the significance of that option, so I got lost in the B terminal while trying to find the Southwest baggage check (I had 2 duffel bags because I’m moving – I usually travel light). I consulted a map and saw that the A terminal was connected to the B terminal by a hallway.

That hallway is something you want to avoid. It is a.) difficult to find in the first place, and b.) SUPER LONG. I’m in decent shape, but that hallway was too long to comfortably walk with baggage. Additionally, it looks nothing like an airport (rather, it looks like a 1970’s high school closed for summer break), and you constantly feel like you’re getting yourself more and more lost. There aren’t any side doors, there’s a random display area with crappy art at the midpoint, and the materials are all blonde wood instead of the usual “airport chrome” design. You don’t need this kind of sweaty confusion on your travel days.

Just take the shuttle.

(Then again, because I didn’t take the shuttle, I can’t reliably say that it’s the best option. Maybe it leads to a hall of ax murderers.)

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