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Fly into BWI, including connection
Fly into DCA, direct
Fly into PHL, direct
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BWI/PHL/DCA - Driving in between

May 16th, 2019, 11:40 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 53
BWI/PHL/DCA - Driving in between

Hello. I am currently planning a trip in November that will include my elderly father. We'll be staying in a northwest suburb of Baltimore and I'm weighing options of where to fly into/out of. BWI (Baltimore) is obviously closest, but we will not be able to book direct through any airline from our starting point. We could fly direct into DCA (Washington Reagan) or PHL (Philadelphia), but will then have to drive to Baltimore Friday afternoon and back to the airport on Monday morning - terrible times for either city. Looking for any and all suggestions... Which would have better traffic given the directions we'll be going at those times of day? Would we be better off booking BWI and just making sure we have plenty of layover time at our connecting airport? I personally hate rushing through airports, and with my father, it would be doubly difficult/stressful!
LeighB is offline  
May 16th, 2019, 08:04 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,366
What is your departure airport?

I wouldn't consider PHL.

I picked the Maryland Zoo as your driving destination. It is about 24 min from BWI and 64 min from DCA.

I recently had to decide whether to take connecting flights to Albany or a nonstop to Newark. My destination is about 1 hr 30 min from Albany or 2hr 15 min from Newark. I chose the nonstop to Newark for two reasons: 1) the total travel time was about the same, maybe a little shorter via Newark, and 2) the flight is nonstop so no possibility of a missed connection.

Just get on one plane, get off, and then I have as much time as it takes to drive to my destination. If my flight departure is delayed, that is ok because it just means that I wait - without stress - with no worries about missing a connection.
mrwunrfl is offline  
May 16th, 2019, 08:10 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,366
Oh, the drive back is Monday morning. Consider taking a later flight even if it costs more. Or fly home from BWI.
mrwunrfl is offline  
May 17th, 2019, 05:45 AM
Join Date: Nov 2010
Posts: 10,167
In that case fly to DCA which has its own Metro station. take the Metro to Union Station. There is a long escalator up to ground level from the Metro. Take a Northeast Regional train to the BWI Amtrak station. Rent the car from BWI and return it there on Monday. Fly home from BWI even if you have to make a connection somewhere.. There is a shuttle bus that connects the BWI Amtrak to the airport.
The other airport on the Northeast Amtrak is Newark (EWR). You could take a train to either Baltimore downtown or to BWI from Newark.
tomfuller is offline  
May 17th, 2019, 08:54 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 15,366
I just checked on the cost of picking up a car at DCA with dropoff at DCA and the price is $160. For a pickup at DCA and dropoff at BWI the cost is $167.
That is for Friday July 19 to Monday July 22, at costcotravel for an economy car.

The rates at AARP for the same rental are $180 for DCA-DCA and $174 for DCA-BWI.
mrwunrfl is offline  
May 17th, 2019, 09:10 AM
Join Date: Jun 2008
Posts: 22,346
LeighB, do you have to change planes on that indirect flight to BWI? If so, you could work with the airlines to provide a wheelchair for your father--that would facilitate the changing planes part for him.

Philly to Baltimore would take about 2 hours on Rte. 95--who knows how traffic will be. If your Baltimore layover is more than 2 hours, Philly might be an option. But, you'd have to get up early Monday, yes?

If you aren't familiar with DC, I think that sounds too complicated and might entail too much walking for your dad? Someone can confirm or clarify that!

I think BWI will be the easiest in the long run. BTW, I asked google maps for directions from Philly airport to NW Baltimore and it defaulted to the Reisterstown Police station!

Please let us know how it all works out, please.
TDudette is offline  
May 17th, 2019, 08:35 PM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 8,923
Traffic to either PHL or DCA will be horrific - worse if there is an accident or construction along the way. Making a connection is far less taxing than the drive. If your father has limited mobility to request - in advance - wheelchair assistance, and verify it when you are boarding your first leg.
Seamus is offline  
May 20th, 2019, 05:03 AM
Original Poster
Join Date: Mar 2003
Posts: 53

Thanks, all, for your comments so far. Much of what I have been going back and forth on! I hadn't considered the train option... We will be leaving out of Omaha. So far, my two choices I'm considering will be flying into either PHL or DCA, but flying back out of BWI - or - BWI and connecting both ways. Leaving our of BWI would mean we could leave earlier and if there are delays that way, it'll be on our way home so we wouldn't be missing anything. We can generally choose layovers as far as location/length if we use BWI (Detroit, Midway, Charlotte, etc). With my dad, I'd prefer at least 2 hours, though it'll make for a longer trip. We'll keep our eye on flights as well as this page for any other info!
LeighB is offline  
May 22nd, 2019, 09:58 AM
Join Date: Jan 2003
Posts: 33,558
If you can get a reasonable ticket flying into DCA and back out of BWI, that sounds best. I'm not clear if that flight going back would be direct or not, I thought that was the reason you didn't want to book BWI.

Traffic during rush hours to/from DCA and NW Baltimore will be horrendous. It wouldn't surprise me if it didn't take longer than 2 hrs, like even 3 hrs. That is 50 miles, after all, even not in rush hour, it would take over an hour.

You can easily get a car for around $175-200 for F-M on a regular website, that ins't a special price. It's only $170 on (on those dates in July, which don't matter much, but it will be about the same for a weekend in November, if not holidays).

The train option is one idea, but to be honest, not sure it's worth it. To shlep to Union Station with your dad and luggage from DCA (by metro), then taking the train to BWI, then getting to the car rental place, etc. How much money savings would that be worth to you? YOu are 2 people, I wouldn't do that to save $100 myself, but that's up to you. Not to mention the train will cost, and the metro. I think a taxi would only cost about $150, but you'd have to check. If you use Uber, I bet you could get that ride for $75 or less, if you are comfortable with that, I'd just do that myself. I don't think you'll save that much by renting from BWI myself, but again, you can check that. It wouldn't be wroth $50 to me to do all that, and I doubt if rental costs are going to vary that much between DCA and BWI pickup.

If you are going to rent a car anyway (not clear), I'd just pay for the rental at DCA and drive, but fly out of BWI. Sure, driving from DCA to Baltimore on Friday afternoon (you don't say what time, early wouldn't be that bad) will take a long time, but I'd rather do that than do a layover myself. Because it may just be slow, but on the one hand, sitting in slow traffic isn't necessary that taxing, just time-consuming. And the layover would probably take almost at much time, that extra drive can't add on more than 2 hrs, I bet, to what you'd have to take to drive from BWI to where you are going, anyway.
Christina is offline  

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