Why Washington Dulles Is So Much Worse Than Close-In National Airport

Washington Dulles is a very bad airport. And the reasons why are simple. It’s far from the city but once you make it to the airport you’re still nowhere near the airport. There will eventually be a train to the airport but it – too – will stop before the actual airport.

The reasons Dulles is so bad are legion, but it’s not limited to corruption. Sure contracts go to friends, the Office of Audit doesn’t do formal audits and jobs go to unqualified friends and relatives. But the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority oversees both Washington Dulles and National airports, and National is so much better.

The building of Washington Dulles involved condemning African American homes so that white business travelers could read Playboy.


From the Original Washington Dulles Concept Video

Dulles airport is 30 miles from the U.S. Capitol. National airport is just 4 miles away. But it’s not really that distance that’s the biggest challenge. When you arrive at the airport you’re still nowhere near where your flight will depart.

Instead there’s an expensive train system to take people from the entrance out to the terminals. It’s so costly that Washington National airport passengers are the ones who have to pay for it. Funds are transferred from National to cover the costs, in order to subsidize the United Airlines hub, for fear of pricing United out of the market.

Plenty of airports are a distance from the city, and have trains out to their terminals, although the best airports move people to the airport and through the airport quickly. However Dulles airport takes the problem a couple of steps further. The train wasn’t built to take people where passengers fly from today – it was built to take people to where the airport wants to build a new concourse in the future, even though there are no current plans to build such a concourse. So you take the train and then have a long walk to the concourse which was dubbed temporary over 30 years ago.

Some passengers though don’t even have that luxury, and are instead relegated to ‘mobile lounges’.

And what’s it like to actually ride one of these AT-AT vehicles that stop for planes along the way?

Unfortunately for many trips visitors to the DC area are forced to Dulles because, with a handful of exceptions, flights longer than 1250 miles to the better airport are illegal.

About Gary Leff

Gary Leff is one of the foremost experts in the field of miles, points, and frequent business travel - a topic he has covered since 2002. Co-founder of frequent flyer community InsideFlyer.com, emcee of the Freddie Awards, and named one of the "World's Top Travel Experts" by Conde' Nast Traveler (2010-Present) Gary has been a guest on most major news media, profiled in several top print publications, and published broadly on the topic of consumer loyalty. More About Gary »

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Comments

  1. 1. Corruption – this occurs at airports around the country. It is infuriating but what can we do about it. I hear ATL is especially bad. My sympathies to Delta Airlines and their passengers who have to deal with it.

    2. Playboy – ??

    3. Long distances – doesn’t matter to casual visitors to DMV (DC Maryland Virginia). Sure, it will wear on frequent visitors who should use DCA. But to the casual visitor, 30 miles is nothing. A couple of intra-airport trains is nothing. The mobile lounges do suck significant ballsack, though.

    4. OANN – all I will say here is Penis.

  2. So many problems with Dulles but the plane spotting is amazing. And I always take the buggies to C/D gates to avoid taking the train to the walk plus you get great tarmac views of the 747s, 777s and 787s.

  3. The areas around IAD have been some of the fastest growing in the USA. They can support a substantial O and D bases. The unaccountable MWAA and United are the main problems

  4. Gary, you pump this article or similar out once a year, but it’s not really a meaningful discussion in my book. The issue I have is that you’re comparing things with two different use cases – a small, incredibly convenient domestic airport and a large international airport with flights to 5 continents – and then complaining about the parts that are definitionally inherent in the latter (hard to get to, spread out, etc.).

    You frame this as a comparison (DCA to IAD) when it simply isn’t. When DCA gets flights on the ME3, let me know. The fair comparison would be IAD to JFK, ORD, ATL, DEN, DFW, MIA, etc. Are you really going to say that any of those are better when it comes to proximity to the city, compact / logical design, transit connectivity, etc.? If you take into account the holistic airport experience – door-to-door travel time – then I’d wager that IAD comes out ahead of most due to a combination of decent weather, dedicated express lanes to the city, convenient (walkable) garage parking, and a compact main terminal (drop-off/pick-up and ticketing). While I’m not going to defend the mobile lounges by any means, I’ve actually timed what feels like an eternity in them – and it comes out to be about 10 minutes.

    Are there elements of Dulles that could be improved? Of course – if they could clean-sheet it and didn’t anticipate future growth, then absolutely. But as it stands now, I’ll honestly say it’s one of the better true international airports in the country (and yes, for better or for worse, US airports need to be the comparison set).

  5. I grew up near Dulles. My dad actually travelled a lot for work so he picked a house half way between his office and the airport. Anyways, I always just thought these things were normal. I will say Dulles is 1000X better than some junk at LAX. I have literally spent over an hour in traffic from Terminal 1 to Terminal 7.

  6. @CW Bless you.

    Perfectly said. Given that Gary lives in Austin and just occasionally commutes to DC I hardly take his expertise as gospel.

    Each airport serves a purpose and for us living here work very well in balancing the two, or three if you include BWI. Each has its own niche and value.

    I’ll leave it at that unless someone else wants to argue points with me. Which after 30 years of using all three I will gladly discuss more.

  7. I am a resident of Fairfax County. I must say I do not mind, and sometimes prefer Dulles over DCA (both exact equal distance from my home), I like that there is a dedicated airport traffic lane all the way from the beltway that avoids most DC traffic on the VA267 toll-road. Hourly parking at IAD is easy and there is plenty. Also, there’s ample check-in space compared to DCA. I love that there are so many more options for lounges than DCA, when you include the international airlines; priority pass members have a lot more options at IAD. If you do not have access to a lounge, the restaurant options are much better than DCA (Terminal A/B especially). The one con is the “TSA bottleneck” for all concourses (DCA does security better by pier) … good luck on pre-pandemic peak times if you do not have TSA-PRE and/or CLEAR … and yes of course, United Concourse “C” still sucks.
    The Dulles metro station was built by one of the parking lots (not in the terminal); yes, it is a long walk, but not terrible and at the airport, nonetheless. Regarding to moving inside the airport, it is pretty easy, and the train works fine, the article is correct in mentioning that the train station system was built for future traffic, but I do not see anything wrong with that. I do miss the mobile lounges that gave such a picturesque feel to the airport. I get a little feeling of bad blood from the author towards IAD, but I think is just personal taste. I personally hate everything about Miami MIA or Heathrow, while others love them.

  8. It’s not so much corruption or any of the other stuff, it’s Saarinen’s horrible design. It looks great but it was never functional. It was always way to far from curb to gate. The TWA terminal he designed at JFK had many of the same issues.

    I live in 25 minutes from IAD and 60 minutes from BWI but if I am driving prefer BWI to Dulles. It’s an hour from economy parking to gate at Dulles. BWI, with precheck, is more like 20 minutes.

  9. If this is the way the Federal Government operates airports, why would we trust them with health care, gun control and climate change remedies?

  10. @ Cathycan. Maybe you should learn more about the leadership and parties involved with the Management of MWAA before you spout your Trumpian conspiracy theories. But, I guess facts and the truth are difficult for you.

  11. We live in NOVA and IAD is my home airport. There are many direct flights to Asia, Africa, and Europe, and Latin America from IAD from the airlines we use. Much prefer it over DCA (may I say rudest employees in the Mid-Atlantic region) or BWI (definitely not for walkers the way the terminals are designed). Once the Metro is completed to IAD it’ll probably be the most accessible (and still the best, IMHO) out of the three.

  12. I’ve never had a issue with Dulles. It’s an airport flavored airport. Not great, not bad, does the job.

  13. @Gary Left
    Why you keep making these comparisons between DCA and IAD? They are very different airports for different needs. You can’t fly a B777 or A380 into DCA.

  14. With the exception of the C / D terminal, which I wish UA and MWAA would agree to replace the terminal, IAD is not that horrible. The Mobile lounges are great since you can see planes closer than you would at most airports, there are many options for lounges, the walk might be longer than a lot of airports but not worse than most similar sized international airports. I dont like DCA due to the cramped terminals and horrible setup. While the view of takeoff is nice I don’t like departing or arriving at DCA. I think Gary has a personal vendetta against IAD. He failed to note that MWAA built a 1 Billion dollar terminal gor Project Journey at DCA which is the newest terminal at DCA and I wish they would spend more of DCAs money to fund a new C / D terminal at IAD.

  15. I don’t love IAD either but I really do think that comparing it to National is an apples to oranges situation.

  16. slow news day?

    of course I prefer DCA – so much so I used to accept a connection just so I could avoid the horrendous rush hour traffic on arrival. now it is easier as there are a couple of nicely scheduled transcon nonstops (thank you Pelosi?) from DCA. not to mention DCA has always had the best food options since the major overhaul (though I miss the old shuttle gates where you could literally go from the curb to the plane in 5 minutes)

    In fairness to IAD when there is no traffic IAD is only an extra 30 minutes from downtown (maybe less depending on location) and that’s totally worth it to avoid a connection. IAD is also far preferable when heading to NOVA suburbs and potentially even Bethesda/Rockville.

    you left out BWI which is absolutely the worst. there was champagne popping everywhere when WN finally moved into IAD…

  17. @CW if it weren’t for the perimeter rule and slot controls at DCA your points might have some validity, focusing on widebody flights from the Mideast misses the point, United runs a big regional jet operation out of Dulles that survives because they lobby to keep competition from flights at Natioanl restricted while gaining subsidies from National’s airport fees to keep their costs down.

    And DCA’s growth itself is restricted by NIMBYism in the local surrounding cmmunity.

    Even so Dulles is horrible, and not merely because of decisions that were made when the airport was first built. I cite several of these much more recent decisions, such as building the train to nowhere with no plans to build a new concourse where they’ve sent the train, the decision to have the metro stop before the airport itself.

    At least with the rise of ridesharing you’re no longer limited to Washington Flyer to get away from the airport!

  18. A lot of people who have spent a lot of their time having DCA as their main airport — myself included — really try to avoid IAD as much as possible. I have historically preferred a one-stop connection into DCA rather than even a non-stop into IAD — not only because DCA would get me closer to home/work faster upon the trip being over, DCA would also work out better in case of IRROPS, missed connections/missed flights, delayed baggage, etc. However, with flight schedules now so thinned out as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic impact, I’m way more about the non-stops/fewer connections than used to be the case — even if it means a haul to/from IAD.

    IAD has become a much nicer airport in recent years than it used to be 10+ years ago, and IAD now works for a far higher proportion of the Washington metropolitan area population than used to be the case — in large part that’s because of urban/suburban sprawl and all the tech+ business build-up that has gone on in that part of Virginia.

  19. Gary, you’re dismissing the core point that many of us are making by simply picking around the fringes. That point is that IAD is first and foremost a long-haul, international hub. That is its core purpose and should be the basis for its comparison set. Yes, UA runs an RJ operation…which provides a lot of feed to international flights, not just O&D like DCA.

    I, and others, would again be curious to understand why you’re writing this article in a vacuum as opposed to making an appropriate comparison to other U.S. airports. Getting from the CTA Blue Line at ORD is no shorter a walk than from the new IAD Metro station, and we all know how much fun taking transit from JFK is. Have you experienced the Silver Line from BOS? It’s literally a bus to nowhere. I still maintain that IAD, while not SIN or HKG, is one of the more workable U.S. international hubs.

    This just seems like a strange article that was written without much purpose other than garden-variety table pounding. I get that travel is down and you have to keep people reading, but it’s been pretty tough lately.

  20. @CW “IAD is first and foremost a long-haul, international hub. ”

    That’s simply false. The majority of Dulles flights are domestic. And most of the domestic flight passengers aren’t connecting to long haul international.

  21. EWR/JFK vs. LGA is probably the more interesting comparison.

    I despise EWR in so many ways, but at least the C terminal feels semi-fresh and light…much more so than IAD. EWR obviously closer to NYC relative to IAD & DC proper, also has better public transit if you go that route.

  22. @Gary- agree with all the other posters. Why the anger in a vacuum?
    Also- if you look at actual traffic numbers, you’ll see that international as a proportion is very high. Can’t recall exactly but it’s almost higher than domestic.
    Anyway, I’ve lived in DC for nearly 30 years. In the city itself. I love National for easy domestic flights and for some California flights if the times work for my schedule. But absolutely will go to Dulles if the timing works, especially for international. Or sometimes I’ll leave from National and return to Dulles. Or vice versa. Uber/ Lyft makes the trip to and from Dulles easy. And I’ve seen the new metro station and walked by it coming from the parking garage. It’s an easy walk with moving sidewalk in an air conditioned underground tunnel that drops you right into the terminal. Is it perfect? No, but it’s no worse than many other walks/ distances from staton to terminal at other US airports. I like the variety of lounges available at Dulles. I can fly anywhere from there. It’s totally fine. Don’t understand what prompted this tired rant.

  23. @Jason “if you look at actual traffic numbers, you’ll see that international as a proportion is very high. Can’t recall exactly but it’s almost higher than domestic.”

    International is one-third (2019 international passengers = 8.4mm domestic = 16.3mm)

    https://www.insidenova.com/news/transportation/2019-passenger-counts-higher-at-dulles-reagan-national/article_5f706ba0-53df-11ea-980b-5f8293831ca4.html#:~:text=The%20growth%20from%202018%20to,percent%20from%20a%20year%20before.

    In any case, this is very much beside the point. The airport is distant and badly designed for any purpose.

  24. @Gary – you’re right – after I wrote that, I checked, and indeed, international is about 1/3 the total traffic. That said, show me what other airport around the country has as high a percentage of international traffic to domestic traffic. Most arent that high.
    That said, your post I still do not agree with the thrust of the post. Per your point about the design, the main terminal was built nearly 50 years ago, with the thought that most passengers would simply be o/d passengers that could neatly fit onto a mobile lounge to go and to the plane. ALL that was built was the main terminal, and the main terminal then was half of its current size or so – they added wings onto either side of it inthe late 1990s to extend its footprint.

    Traffic started to grow and a lot of the traffic turned into transit traffic. For transit traffic, mobile lounges to/ from the planes was not an option, so they started building the remote concourses. I agree that c/d where United is is dark and old, but honestly, it does the job. Not beautiful by any stretch, but it’s functional. Concourses A/B are beautiful and world class. Both sets of terminals offer a large number of lounges. I absolutely love flying in/ out of IAD, especially when I’m traveling internationally, for access to the lounges and for the variety of nonstop flights.

    As for the distance, yeah it’s far from the city center, but the footprint allows for growth, which it has done and was on track to do prior to covid. As many others have mentioned, IAD from an access perspective has the same challenges as in many other cities. Though JFK and ORD are closer to their respective downtowns, access is worse and can take way longer to get from city center to airport. The Dulles Toll Road / airport road makes getting to the airport pretty fast if driving. And the metro when it opens will make things better. Again, walking from the garage, I’ve walked past the metro stop many times. It’s integrated into a climate controlled corridor with moving sidewalks that takes you right into the terminal. That’s pretty good. IT’s better than what you have at ORD (try going to the international terminal when getting off the CTA – a disaster), JFK, and LGA. Do you have to walk a little? Sure. But there are moving sidewalks the entire way. It’s a pretty good set up. Not sure why the complaints.
    Also, in theyears since it was built, there has been considerable commercial and residential growth all around Dulles. Dulles supports that to, and for many people it’s more convenient than National.
    I live in DC proper and for many years as others have mentioned, National was always my priority, even if it involved a connection. Nowadays, I’ll always use Dulles for my international long haul travel. And domestically, I’ll certainly consider it. Definitely for transcon trips or trips to Colorado for skiing where DCA schedules dont work. The airside and landside improvements theyve made, especially the lounge and restaurant selection, as well as uber/lyft access, make Dulles easier than ever to use.
    Still dont understand why you’re so angry about it.

  25. @Gary Leff
    As myself and others have pointed out, DCA is purely a domestic airport and works fine for folks in DC, Alexandria, Arlington. But just as others have also pointed out, look at the growth outside the beltway for the past 30 years. For those folks (myself included) IAD is very convenient.

    Most of my travel is international so I am right at home. I will take IAD over at least a dozen international airports in the US. You simply can’t compare IAD with a purely domestic airport such as DCA.

  26. “The building of Washington Dulles involved condemning African American homes so that white business travelers could read Playboy.”

    But you literally support the state of Israel and the destruction of Palestinian homes.

  27. @Takhliq Khan – as I’ve pointed out, domestic vs international doesn’t explain why Dulles sucks, although international travel can support greater inconveniences (since they represent a smaller percentage of total journey time). And DCA, while it does not have a customs facility, is not a ‘purely domestic airport’ as there’s plenty of close-in international flights during non-pandemic times, Canada and Caribbean (destinations which offer immigration preclearance).

  28. Is anyone else sick and tired of all these useless articles online that talk about how stupid and useless IAD is? I literally just read this article and at then end was not sure what I read. I will NEVER understand why people love to hate on Dulles. FIRST of all, you can’t always look at IAD from a DC viewpoint, IAD is in Northern Virginia which (separate from DC) is one of the fastest growing areas in the US and will need a major airport to support its residents and businesses. If you look at what is going on in NOVA the growth is moving west out towards the areas around IAD. So yeah, to someone who lives in DC or is headed to a meeting in DC, DCA is always going to be more convenient. But these Dulles hate articles never talk about business travelers who are headed to meetings in Tysons Corner, or the person who lives in Fairfax, etc. In fact, last I checked, Fairfax county had a higher population than DC in total. And speaking from personal experience as I have family in Fairfax county that I visit fairly often and IAD and DCA are about the same drive time from their place, HOWEVER in the morning or afternoon rush hour DCA’s drive is almost always going to be longer than IAD’s not to mention DCA is one of the most unpleasant and cramped airports in this county (try getting an outlet in AA’s concourses, it won’t happen). Finally I’ll say that how many major airports in this country have a dedicated freeway for airport only traffic like Dulles does? I agree, if you’re headed to DC for a daytrip meeting in the district, obviously DCA is gonna be your choice. But these articles that paint IAD as some useless backwater airport that is good for nothing are childish and immature. Every time I read an article about how stupid Dulles is I want to scream. Dulles is a great airport hands down and as other readers have mentioned it’s superior when compared to places like ORD, LAX, MIA, or JFK.

  29. Both airports suck pretty bad. DCA just less so because of proximity. The fact that there are no direct flights from anywhere in Southern California except LAX is a joke. DC killed the direct LGB/IAD flight years back and it was never replaced.

  30. I prefer IAD simply because I am 5 miles from the airport. It’s a relatively cheap Uber over to the airport and I never use the parking or the shuttles.

    If you use the parking, car rental or shuttles it truly sucks. The train will eventually open but it is a fairly long way into DC and there is no storage for luggage. I imagine airport workers using the metro and not too many tourists.

  31. Developing some counter to Gary’s odd assessment of the DC airports.

    1. We actually are unique in having a metro area with three fully useable airports. Each with their own skill set as to offerings and perfectly placed geographically. I would say that in a tit for tat only San Francisco or New York can compare. As far as moving funds around…why not? Tell me one city that does not have some sort of concessions for the dominating carrier so as not to lose a hub status. My god, ATL and Delta are practically having intercourse together.

    2. DCA is one of the best positioned airports in the world for accessing the city. From Logan Circle it takes me 14 minutes with little traffic. I can often leave my city address just an hour before my flight. Add to that a parking garage directly connected to the terminal. Or, should you prefer, easy METRO access. No bags? Great…literally a three minute walk from either to the security areas. For domestic flights I find DCA offers me great non-stop choices to pretty much anywhere I need to go given AA’s RJ operations and the addition of allowed flights now to the west coast. Add to that a new wing opening up this summer for AA RJ flights and it becomes even more user friendly.

    3. Dulles is a good airport. No, it’s not AMS, or HKG, or ZRH. But in comparison to other intl gateway airports in the U.S., ex: MIA, JFK, DFW, LAX, ATL, BOS, ORD it is, in my opinion, far superior. Only SFO could be thought of as a better overall experience. As well, given the unique original design, they have done a great job over the years in adapting and modernizing while not destroying the original architecture that is, truly, a wonder.

    4. Tell me another airport in the country with its own traffic free dedicated roadway connecting to the Beltway, or 66 into the city?

    5. Sure, the United concourse at Dulles is aged and wearing down. But the A and B concourses are modern, have good lounge choices, and are open and light filled. It never feels overwhelmed. The train system is fast, clean and far more modern than, say, ATL. Yes, the mobile lounges can be annoying from aircraft to immigration. But it’s not awful. Walks are minimized and, in fact, compared to FRA or LHR which can involve a mile walk from plane to passport control, the time factor is not that different.

    6. TSA is excellent at all three airports. Dulles is especially efficient with a separate PRE area and even a dedicated security area for employees and flight crews.

    Given this, I would dare anyone to argue against that, other than the San Francisco Bay Area, the DMV is easily the second best urban area for airports in the U.S.

  32. Ok Gary you win.
    Your whole argument is that 7 Eleven is better than Starbucks because it has higher foot traffic, it’s on every street corner and it carries more products.
    But the fact is that they both are good at what they do. However, they serve different segments of the society.

  33. They need to get rid of mobile lounges and use buses like they do at remote stands in Europe.

    The worst part about Dulles is arriving from outside the US. There is the walk to the mobile lounge, where people are crammed in and then drivers yell at passengers to move to the back. There is the slow ride to international arrivals, the passport line, and delays with luggage. Back when I flew, I allowed an hour between landing to leaving Dulles with my luggage — even with Global Entry.

    The ‘temporary’ C/D concourse is a dingy, overcrowded nightmare but A/B is wide, airy, with decent food. I wonder why United tolerates being the largest airline at IAD while forcing its passengers into a dystopian concourse.

  34. I live in DC and I go out of my way to fly out of IAD. DCA is horrible, the traffic..the constantly broken metro is unreliable….and heaven forbid if you want to take a real international flight. I’ll take Dulles any way of the week, and so will most of the travels who live in the area.

  35. Aside from some of the international arrivals it’s just fine, and for avgeek with extra time lots of treats and surprises.

    Somehow all feels very…federal…like if USPS had an airport. Which isn’t a total knock on USPS – it’s functional and sometimes interesting, but a little off kilter.

  36. I lived in Montgomery County, Maryland for almost 31 years and IAD was my preferred airport. Many more flights, easy and fast to get to (as long as I was not traveling to it during AM rush hour or from it during PM rush hour), and a hub for United which was and still is my preferred airline.

    When Dulles was opened in 1962, the idea was that the terminal would be small, with minimal walking. The mobile lounges would take you directly to your AIRPLANE and you would walk onto the plane from the lounge. No concourses with gates widely separated because the wings of airplanes make them wide. The planes would be parked in various places out on the ramp. Then the air traffic increased to the point where this became no longer practical, so concourses were built out on the field and the mobile lounges too people to those concourses. Then in recent years the train system was built. For terminals C/D there is a hike to the train terminal because the idea is that those terminals will be rebuilt in the future and the new terminals will be on top of where the train terminal is.

    The Silver Line Metro station was originally supposed to be built right under the main terminal – in fact, I think there was room left under there for it. Then the local agencies realized that tunneling underground to get to that area would be too expensive, so they decided to build it instead as an elevated station across the hourly lot, next to one of the garages, and make the passengers take the underground walkway from that garage to the main terminal (there are moving sidewalks down there). That lowered the cost, but increased the inconvenience. In the last couple of years I lived there, I would either get a ride out there from my son or neighbor (running time from Gaithersburg to IAD about 45 minutes, only a few minutes longer than to or from DCA, thanks to the traffic-free Dulles Airport Access Road) or, if I was coming from work, the Metro Silver Line to Reston (its current end) then a 12 minute ride on a Washington Flyer bus to IAD. I did not consider either option inconvenient. For many reasons I do not use ride share services.

    Washington National Airport has a Metro station adjacent and I have used that too. It is convenient, especially for flights to Toronto or Montreal. The concourses are a bit cramped. The only problem I have with DCA is the additional name that Grover Norquist got his buddies in Congress to stick on it in 1998.

  37. This whole “National” business is a silly Democrat game. You don’t call Dulles “international” so why call Reagan “national”? Do you call other national airports “national”?

  38. Chad- that’s literally the name. It’s Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. Before they added “Reagan” to the name in 1998/1999 the name was simply National Airport. People who’ve lived hear a long time simply call it what they always have, and it’s just as acceptable to call it that. If you’re aware of other airports whose official name is or has only been “National” please advise.

  39. Formal name before 1998: Washington National Airport. That’s actually engraved above the entrance to the original terminal building, now called Terminal A. Most of us who lived in the area shortened this to National Airport or just National.

    Formal name after the Congress got it renamed: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport. No one really felt that removing the name of our first President was a good idea. Most people who lived in the area for a while still call it “National”; the newbies who don’t know the politics of why it was renamed (or, for that manner, the politics of R.R. himself) will call it “Reagan”.

    By the way, Chad, “Democrat” is a noun, not an adjective. You meant a “Democratic” game.

  40. I don’t like the names of either airport. Most of the controversy arises over Reagan, mainly because it was a renaming of the 60 year old DCA airport. I would have preferred that they had renamed IAD from Dulles to Reagan because I don’t consider 1950s Secretary of State Dulles to be deserving of having a major airport named after him. I doubt that even 5% of the passengers flying into or out of IAD could tell you who John Foster Dulles was.

    My own pattern is pretty simple. I use DCA for domestic flights other than west coast and for flights to MIA to connect to Latin America. I use IAD for flights to the west coast and to Europe. (I refuse to connect to Europe through EWR, JFK, or PHL.)

    My principal complaint about IAD is that the traffic is horrible into the city in the late afternoons when the flights from European arrive.

  41. I’m with you, Gary. I’ll take DCA any day, for all the reasons you mentioned. Sadly, as I’m out of the country right now and my Global Entry is up for renewal, I’m probably going to have to fly in to IAD (for the interview) when I come home. Then, if I’m lucky, never again. [Flying through Abu Dhabi may save the day.]

  42. I don’t think Gary has overstated the case, but there is much criticism to go around to US airports more generally, due to the USA having essentially banned private ownership of airports, as is common in much of the rest of the world.

    The fact that US airports are publicly owned has led to political decision making that benefits political cronies, rather than passengers who are the first priority in private operations. Another example closer to my heart is the decision by the political hacks who run LAX to put the Metro station outside the airport rather than inside of it, to preserve the Taxi monopoly as well as the pubic service unions that want to make sure we will still need busses and bus drivers to reach the Metro. This is despite the fact that there is a huge space where the parking is currently located under which the Metro station could have easily been built to allow walking access to the terminals that surround it.

    The US will never have infrastructure as good as the rest of the developed world due to the refusal to allow competition from the Private Sector, compounded by the fact that our public sector is unusually incompetent).

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