Thanksgiving week, and the holiday season which follows, are expected to bring more travelers to Ronald Reagan Washington National and Washington Dulles International Airports. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority is offering travel advice to area residents.
"The holiday season brings more crowded conditions to our airports so it may be wise to allow extra time for parking and check-in to ensure a smooth trip," says Airports Authority President/CEO James A. Wilding.
During the holidays, the Airports Authority offers these travel tips:
Leave Early -- Airline and airport officials urge travelers to allow at least 1 ½ hours in advance of domestic flights and 3 hours in advance of international flights to allow time for ground transportation, parking, luggage check-in and security screening. Holiday traffic increases at National and Dulles Airports and adds congestion to the curb lanes in front of airport terminals. In addition, plan extra time to find parking spaces since the lots and garages will be crowded. Be prepared before you arrive at the ticket counter. Airlines require photo identification of passengers over age 18. Many airlines request a government-issued photo i.d., such as a driver’s license or passport. Airline and security screening procedures may also take extra time to accommodate the increased number of travelers. Expect to have any carry on items scrutinized and avoid wrapping presents that you plan to take through airport security screening since you may be asked to unwrap the gifts. Electronic equipment will also be examined carefully.
Travel Safely -- Carry medicine, cash, jewelry and other important valuables with you on the plane. Have identification tags on the outside and inside of your luggage; these tags are available at the airline ticket counters although it will save time to do this before you arrive. If you leave your car at the airport, remove any valuables. Carry your purse and wallet securely, and keep your luggage and carry on items in your sight at all times. Unattended bags and other items will be confiscated and and destroyed and may require the evacuation of the airport facilities.
Keep an eye on the Weather: Weather can greatly affect flight schedules. Snow and winter storms may cause delays or even cancellations so check both the local weather forecasts and those for the destination to which you are traveling.
Check ahead of time: Dial 530 AM -- The Airport Channel on your car radio will keep you up-to-date on available parking at the airports. Call your airline’s 1-800 number to re-confirm your flight or to answer questions about carry-on luggage.
Try the Washington Flyer or SuperShuttle Service-- If you don’t want to drive to the airports, consider the Washington Flyer express bus service from the downtown location at the Washington Convention Center at New York Avenue, N.W. For information about this service, please call (703) 685-1400. In addition, SuperShuttle provides door-to-door shared-ride service to the airports, please call 1-800-BLUEVAN.
Take Metro -- Travelers using National Airport often find Metro a good alternative to driving. The Airports Authority is also encouraging Dulles passengers to consider Metro by distributing "two-for-one" coupons at the Dulles Airport parking lot exits. These coupons will give two riders a trip on the Washington Flyer Bus from the Metro West Falls Church Station for the one-way fee of $8.00.
Parking – New economy parking spaces will be available at Dulles Airport for the holidays. There is a wide range of pricing for parking at the airports. Economy or Remote parking is the most economical. Free airport shuttle buses operate between the economy and remote lots to the terminals.
Don’t forget the Shopping: This is the season for gift-giving, and if you are still in need of presents remember the stores at the airport which offer a wide variety of gifts.
For more information about Washington National and Washington Dulles International Airports, call (703) 417-8000 for National and (703) 572-2700 for Dulles. The Airports also have a website, which is www.mwaa.com. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority wishes a happy holiday season to area travelers.