2004 AMSAT-NA Space Symposium and Annual Meeting
Air & Train Transportation

by Dan Schultz, N8FGV.

Washington is served by three major airports. Your choice of which one to use will depend on your preferences for cost versus convenience. Airfares can be significantly different between the three airports, so check fares to all three airports from your hometown.

Please refer to How to use Metro page for instructions on using Washington's Metrorail system.

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

(code DCA) is the closest and most convenient to the meeting site. It is the only one of the three that is directly accessible by the Metrorail system. The downside is that the airlines know that they can charge a premium fare for this convenience. National Airport is served by all the major airlines as well as Frontier, Midwest and Spirit. There are frequent shuttle flights from New York and Boston.

To get to the hotel from National Airport, look for the hotel shuttle van, or walk to the Metrorail station and take the train one stop to the Crystal City station. It is also possible to walk to the hotel along a network of hiking/jogging paths near the airport if you feel like taking a 20 minute hike to the hotel after your flight.

Washington Dulles International Airport

(code IAD) is located in suburban Virginia about 30 miles west of the city. It is served by all major airlines as well as discount carriers Jet Blue and Airtran. Dulles offers international flights to and from many cities in Europe and a few cities in South and Central America. A new startup airline, Independence Air, will be based at Dulles and will offer service from 35 east coast and midwest cities starting this summer.

Upon arrival at Dulles the second cheapest way to get to the hotel is to take the Washington Flyer Coach Service to the West Falls Church Metro station for $8 one way or $14 round trip. Discounts are offered for groups of three or more traveling together. Coaches depart the airport from Door 4 on the Arrivals Level of the Main Terminal Building. The last bus of the day leaves at 10:15 pm.

Upon reaching the metro station purchase a farecard from the vending machine, go upstairs and look for the Orange Line train to New Carrollton. The Orange Line train to Vienna is going in the wrong direction. Metro's suggested route is to take this train to the Rosslyn station, get off at Rosslyn and walk downstairs to the Blue Line train traveling to Franconia-Springfield. Take this train to the Crystal City station which is one block south of the hotel meeting location. If you are carrying heavy luggage, stay on the Orange Line for one more stop and get off at Foggy Bottom, then you can transfer to the Blue Line by walking a few feet across the platform instead of lugging your bags down an escalator as required at Rosslyn station.

For the return trip from the West Falls Church Metro station, follow the signs marked "Dulles Airport Shuttle" to the very first shelter on the right side after exiting the station building.

The Washington Metrobus authority also offers bus service on Metrobus number 5A to Dulles Airport from L'Enfant Plaza Metro station in downtown Washington and from the Rosslyn Metro Station in Arlington. The last bus is at 11:30 pm.

Faster but more expensive options include the Super Shuttle van or the Washington Flyer Taxi.

If you are planning to attend the Sunday afternoon Amsat sponsored tour of the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Center at Dulles International Airport, please note that the bus for this tour WILL NOT be stopping at Dulles airport on the way back. The bus will arrive back at the hotel at 5pm, so please do not schedule airline departures before 7pm if you are going on this tour since you will need time to return to Dulles on your own.

Baltimore Washington International Airport

(code BWI) is located 30 miles northeast of Washington and 10 miles south of Baltimore. BWI is served by all major airlines as well as Southwest, Airtran, America West, Frontier and Midwest airlines. Southwest offers non stop service with 160 flights per day from 35 cities including two daily non stop flights from Los Angeles (Southwest's longest flight). British Airways offers one daily non stop flight from London. Other international service is available from Shannon, Ireland and Reykjavik, Iceland, with connections to other cities in Europe.

To get to Washington from BWI, you can catch a Metrobus number B30 for $3.00 from the airport to the Greenbelt Metro station. The Bus stop is on the lower level of Pier E outside of the International Terminal. For arrivals on domestic airlines, as you leave the baggage claim area to go outside, turn right and walk toward the International Terminal (Pier E). If you arrive on Delta or Southwest you will have to walk almost the entire length of the passenger terminal. Look for a glass bus shelter marked "Public Transit - Regional Bus - MTA #17". You will need to cross one lane of restricted traffic to reach the bus shelter from the terminal. The last bus of the day leaves the airport at 10:40 pm. Upon reaching the Greenbelt station, take the Metrorail Green line to either the Archives-Navy Memorial or L'Enfant Plaza stations. Get off the Green Line train and wait on the platform for a Yellow Line train to Huntington station, which will arrive on the same track as the train you just got off of. Take this train across the Potomac to the Crystal City station which is one block south of the hotel location.

An alternate way to reach Washington is to take the free shuttle bus to the Amtrak BWI rail station, where you can catch an Amtrak or MARC train to Washington's Union Station. The MARC commuter trains run only on Monday thru Friday. Upon reaching Union Station, look for the Metrorail station adjacent to Union Station and take the Metro Red Line train two stops to Gallery Place-Chinatown, where you walk down one flight of stairs to the Yellow Line train. Take the Yellow Line to Huntington across the Potomac, get off at Crystal City station.

Faster but more expensive options include the Super Shuttle van, and various taxis. Purchase tickets for the Super Shuttle at their desk located on the lower level of the terminal between baggage claims 6 and 7. The ticket counter is open between the hours of 6:00 AM to 2:00 AM. During other times please call 888-826-2700 to arrange service.

General Aviation:

Should you wish to fly your own airplane (the only hobby more expensive than amateur radio), please see www.dcpilots.org.

Amtrak

Persons living along the East coast from Boston to Florida may wish to take Amtrak's frequent rail service to Washington's Union Station, where you can catch a Metrorail Red Line train as described above. There is also train service on the Capitol Limited from Chicago, Toledo, Cleveland and Pittsburgh, on the Crescent from Atlanta and New Orleans, and on the Carolinian from Charlotte and Raleigh. Several other Amtrak routes also serve Washington.

Reaching the Crowne Plaza Hotel from the Crystal City Metro Station

Upon leaving the Crystal City Metro station, it is possible to reach the Crowne Plaza Hotel without going outside. At the end of the first escalator, turn right and enter the Crystal City Underground entrance. Consult the maps to find the Crowne Plaza Hotel without getting lost in the maze of corridors. The underground route does contain some steps and is therefore not wheelchair accessible.

An easier and shorter way to reach the hotel is to take the second Metro escalator all the way to the surface. At the top of the escalator, make a 270 degree left turn, past the newspaper vending boxes, and walk along South Clark Place under the pillars of the Crystal Square 5 building. The Crowne Plaza Hotel is one block north of the Metro station on 15th street. (There is apparently no 16th or 17th street, so 15th street is one block north of 18th street. Go figure....)