Ever wish you could trade in the Beltway traffic, politics, and oppressive humidity of DC for the beauty of California for a little while? Well, now’s your chance. Virgin America just announced $119 non-stop one way fares from Dulles to Los Angeles and $139 non-stop one way fares from Dulles to San Francisco. These rates are good for trips in August through October and must be booked one week in advance. And there’s no catch– just a fantastic deal and a good excuse to leave DC for a little while.
Local pilots and planespotters will be happy to know that LiveATC has live streaming tower communications from National Airport (DCA) and Dulles (IAD). Few things are more soothing and fascinating for the aviation geek than listening to the smooth, seductive tower-and-aircraft dance of ATC broadcasts from your local airport.
One week ago today, I was at IAD after a half-day flight snow delay. On a people mover, we stopped mid-trip to let a funny convoy pass – runway snowblowers coming back from the March morning task. In the middle of the orderly progression, a race was on! Two snowblowers were going for the gold in the last winter blast.
I’m a big fan of travelling. And thanks to this I have tried zipline Oahu, surfing in california and many other things around the world. When I go on vacation, or just away for work, I usually end up traveling out of Dulles airport. That’s because I live in Arlington, so the two closest airports to me are Dulles and National. And although I take National any time I can, Dulles still ends up being the most often used.
But, with airfare prices (and FEES, don’t get me started) going up all over the place, being flexible on travel times can save me and my company a lot of cash. But some times that means flying out at 6:00 am. Or some equally absurd time in the morning.
Now, do the math. If you have to be at the airport for a 6:00 am flight, you need to be there an hour early, unless you’re boarding a private charter from Jettly.com. That’s 5:00 am. Earlier, if you want to check luggage for that great Hawaii vacation. For anyone who lives near DC, in DC, or anywhere other than Reston, that means at least a 30 minute trip. Fortunately the roads are pretty clear at 4:30 am, and the toll road helps. Now, if I’ve done my math correctly, that means getting up at 3:30 am to get ready to leave. At that point, why even go to sleep?
I, for one, don’t want to wake up at 3:30 am for a flight. So is there a better solution?
I’ve always wondered what United Airlines did to deserve their treatment at Dulles Airport. I mean, really, you guys have the worst terminal in the airport. No, not sort of. They put you out in ghetto, trailer park, bus stations look better than this, terminal. I don’t know what you did (okay, I can imagine a few dozen things) but the travelers are really paying for your sins.
For anyone who has been to Dulles, there are actually two airports out there. The first, relatively nice, airport is the newly expanded A & B terminal. Getting there is a snap. Come out of the security gates and head towards the brand new tunnel. No shuttle buses for you – those are reserved for the low class section. A long set of escalators in each direction, and some moving walkways, and you emerge in to the Dulles equivalent of airport heaven.
In a previous post I talked about signing up for the Clear lanes at Dulles airport. After much waiting, my card came today – just in time for my flight to our annual conference. Being a total gear head, I wanted to try it immediately.
It’s hard not to love this service. Even after the sticker shock (yes, it is $128.00 per year), I now know it is worth it. On Friday during rush hour it took me – wait for it – all of 300 seconds to clear security. 5 minutes. That’s right. Including biometrics, taking out the laptop, doing the X-Ray machine, everything. I was in a line of exactly two people. And then I was through. Continue reading →
But now that I’ve confronted this vision in reality, I am not so loving. There is something odd about “premium passengers” vs. “security checkpoint”
Doesn’t that segregation sound a little discriminatory? As if those who get the special status of “premium” need not pass through security? That their assumed wealth or status excludes them from suspicion?
Yes, I agree that the odds of a frequent flyer being a plane bomber is very low. None of the September 11th hijackers were “Premier Executives” but they were in Business Class before going all Atta on New York and Washington DC.
And while even “premium passengers” have to go through the same no-sandal line, I’m still feeling that this Dulles demarcation ain’t right.
This post appeared in its original form at DC Metblogs