Saturday, January 28, 2006

Traveling from Columbia, MD to Dulles Airport (IAD)

Columbia is only about fifteen miles from Baltimore Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport, but I frequently need to fly from Washington Dulles or Washington National Airport. Getting there often presents a problem. I dislike using cabs because of previous bad experiences with cab companies. They arrive late and they often tell you beforehand that they accept credit cards but then "discover" a problem with that while you are on the way to the airport. When I travel, I try to use cash as little as possible.

The solution I have often found is to rent a car. I get someone to drop me off at BWI the day before and then I drop the car off at Dulles the next day. I have used both Budget and Hertz to do this and there was no drop-off charge. The price varies greatly, but I have paid as little as $18 (on a weekend) and as much as $60 during the week. Either way, it is cheaper than taking a cab and you can travel on your own schedule, eliminating the anxiety of wondering whether the cab is going to show up and the tension associated with calling the company to ask why the cab hasn't appeared. I have always booked the cheapest possible car, but I have always been given a seemingly randomly-picked much larger car. I suspect that they give you any car that the rental company wants to move from BWI to IAD.

On my most recent trip I decided to try a local company, Columbia Airport Shuttle. (Telephone: 410 309 0006). The driver showed up at the precise time in a new and clean Lincoln Town Car. He helped me with my luggage, drove efficiently and safely, and he dropped me off right in front of the part of the airport where Lufthsansa has its desk. The cost was $85. This was a good experience.

On short trips, I use the long-term parking at Dulles although this cramps my style when returning from a trip where good wine is served!

I would love to hear from readers to see what your experience has been. To summarize, my favorite (and cheapest) way is the car rental method. Columbia Airport Shuttle was good. Parking is OK if you keep yourself wine-free on your flight!

No comments: