"More people are flying than ever before and the holiday season brings more crowded conditions to airports. It is always wise to allow extra time for traveling to the airport and check-in with the airlines," 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 arrive at the airport 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 add 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 (see "Parking"). 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.
Parking - There have been changes to the Terminal parking lot at Dulles Airport. The lot in front of the Terminal offers only Hourly and Valet parking. Daily parking is located east of the Terminal but that lot fills quickly. There is ample Economy parking in lots located near the entrance to the Airport which provide the largest supply of spaces at the most economical rate. Free airport shuttle buses operate between the economy lots to the terminals. For parking information at Dulles please call 703-572-4500.
At Reagan National Airport, parking is expected to be in great demand over the holiday period. Travelers who want to drive and park at National are asked to call ahead to check availability of parking. During the week of November 20-26th, passengers can receive up-to-the-minute parking information by calling 703-417-PARK (7275). If parking is not available consider using Metro or SuperShuttle (1-800-BLUEVAN).
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 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 to the airports. Service runs from several downtown locations, including Union Station, the Washington Convention Center at New York Avenue, N.W., and nine popular hotel locations. For information about this service, please call (703) 685-1400 or 1-888-WASHFLY. 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 also encourages Dulles passengers to consider taking Metro to the Metro West Falls Church Station and connecting to the Washington Flyer Bus to Dulles.
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. The Airports Authority website, www.mwaa.com, provides information on flights for a two hour time block. Another good source of air traffic delays around the country is the Federal Aviation Administration website,www.fly.faa.gov.
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. For security reasons unattended bags and other items will be confiscated and and destroyed.
Don't forget the Shopping: This is the season for gift-giving, and if you have extra time at the airport remember to visit the variety of stores or enjoy a meal before your flight. For dining and gift ideas, pick up the Holiday Gift Guide located in directories throughout the airports.
For more information about Ronald Reagan 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.