Connecting in DC: Rookie Mistake

I was feeling pretty proud of myself for planning a complicated month-long trip to Europe--planes, trains and ferries, from Helsinki to Edinburgh. Then I actually looked at my Icelandair Fort Lauderdale--Brussels ticket and saw I had my wife and I flying in to Ronald Reagan Airport in Washington DC around rush hour(s), but flying out 5 hours later from Dulles, which is c. 30 miles away. This transfer might be possible in time for an international flight, but it also might not be, as anyone who has experienced DC traffic knows. But no matter what, it would be a nightmarish way to begin what is supposed to be an enjoyable trip.

It took my wife and I about 1 second to decide to cancel the Fort Lauderdale--Ronald Reagan Airport leg of the trip with Icelandair, thus eating the $222 fare, and rebook with another carrier for a direct flight to Dulles. Of course what I should have done was create a ticket originating in DC, but still returning to Fort Lauderdale, to avoid the problem.

So the moral for persons connecting in a city with more than one airport is: Don't assume your airline has you connecting from the same airport. Apparently a good way to determine this is to examine your ticket before you click "pay" :-)

Posted by Ed
9110 posts

Optionally, you could have taken one of the shuttles for fifty bucks a head like us regular idiots do. It'd be pretty bad if they took much more than an hour since they use the HOV lanes.

At least you did something besides blubbering and calling an internet advice conference.

Well done.

Posted by Grier
Carmel, IN
1185 posts

You are correct, Joel. I flew from Marseilles to Indy through London one year, not realizing my ticket indicated I flew into Gatwick and out of Heathrow. I had no idea until the nice woman in Immigration mentioned it and pointed me to the shuttle. Luckily I had enough time to change some money to pounds, catch the shuttle, and make my flight out of Heathrow in plenty of time.

Posted by Joel
So. FL & Downeast ME
236 posts

Ed, I have been in DC (just once!) when even the HOV was useless. For peace of mind, the plan B was worth it to my wife and I. We drive past the Baltimore-DC area coming and going twice a year, and we actually go well out of the way, inland, in order to avoid it.

George and Grier (and Ed), thanks.


Posted by Gail
Downingtown, USA
1697 posts

Joel, you did what you had to do, don't look back. It is a good reminder to other travelers who may not realize for example there are three NYC airports.

Posted by Patty
Steilacoom, WA, USA
721 posts

Joel- Not rookie at all. I barely caught myself before I booked one into JFK and out of Newark. They highlight if the connecting flight leaves the next day, but they don't highlight an airport change. Have fun.