Submitted by Parking-Steak8032 t3_11c0z4b in washingtondc

I am flying into DCA on a Friday at about 1pm, and have a 4 hour layover before a flight out of IAD (arrival is domestic, no checked bags)

I am also flying into IAD on a weekend at 3pm, and have a 5 hour layover before a flight out of DCA (arrival is foreign and will need to go through customs, no checked bags).

I'm travel-anxious and panicking a little because I didn't realize when I booked that I was flying out of two different airports in Washington, DC (both legs of the trip!). Do you think I'll make it??

I plan to UBER!

EDIT: on second thought while I have the time (trip is a while away) I'll read up on Washington DC's metro to familiarize myself with it since you all think I would have time even for metro!



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SluggingAndBussing t1_ja1fclb wrote

Worry not, fellow internet person. We can point you in the right direction

  1. Arrive at DCA
  2. exit and follow signs for the Metro station
  3. buy a SmarTrip card from the machine and load 20 dollars on to it
  4. enter the station and board the blue line toward Rosslyn (see notes below)
  5. at Rosslyn, transfer to the silver line toward Ashburn
  6. arrive at IAD
  7. keep your SmarTrip card
  8. (time passes between your trips)
  9. arrive at IAD
  10. exit and board silver line toward Largo
  11. At Rosslyn, transfer to the blue line toward DCA (see notes)
  12. Arrive at DCA

Notes: there is some maintenance happening through May on some of the rail lines. and then other maintenance on different lines during the summer. When are your trips? Can give you specific trains to board


Parking-Steak8032 OP t1_ja1gb87 wrote

Thank you so much for making this list!! Mid-April!


SluggingAndBussing t1_ja1iev8 wrote

Ok. So because of some weirdness from the construction and another line being out of service, There are two different blue lines right now. It won’t make a huge difference for you, but the digital signage on the side of the train may say either of the two destinations. Don’t let it confuse you :)

When you leave DCA to go to IAD, follow the mounted permanent signs for the blue line toward “Largo.” I think some signs may actually say something like “trains toward DC” or whatever. The digital signage on the actual train car, because of the construction, will say either Largo or New Carrollton - either is fine!! You will ride five stops and arrive at Rosslyn station, be sure to step off the train here. Go down to the lower level platform (don’t exit the station) and board the silver line train to Ashburn. After many stops you will arrive at IAD. (When you’re boarding the metro from DCA, you DON’T want the trains that say either Huntington or Franconia-Springfield. Wrong platform/trains!)

When you land back at IAD and need to reverse the trip, it’s easy. The only line at IAD is silver, just be sure to board toward Largo (not Ashburn). Once you exit the train at Rosslyn, head down to that same lower level platform you’ve seen before and switch to a blue line train toward Huntington or Franconia-Springfield - either is fine! And five stops later you will be at DCA.

If you load 20 bucks when you get your card out of the vending machine at DCA, you should be fine for all of this.


Parking-Steak8032 OP t1_ja1jtko wrote

Omg I appreciate this so much thank you!!


MACKAWICIOUS t1_ja3jnzc wrote

Word of caution - the change in end stop signage can make someone who is not familiar with the area get confused about which platform to board from - regardless of the name on the train, just make sure it's blue, and the platform signage aligns with the directions above.

There are station managers that should* help you (ymmv) and there are signs listing off the various stops - just read over those and choose the one that includes Rosslyn.


ocmike34 t1_ja4mck8 wrote

Plus most people are more than happy to help if you feel lost/confused. It’s almost 2-3 times a week someone asks me directions on the train. Always happy to help!


eneka t1_ja2ymwr wrote

If you have an iPhone, you can directly load a smart trip card onto your phone as well and just use it via apple wallet


Vi_Capsule t1_ja2v9r9 wrote

Also you can google wmata trip planner

Put in all your destinations and time and it will show u ur travel itinerary. Which u can email to you


Odd-Refrigerator849 t1_ja1iivo wrote

Great advice, but a couple edits/comments: You don't need $20 if you're only coming through DC for these flights and won't be visiting anytime soon (or just don't want to have to deal with keeping track of the card. The trip from airport to airport should be $3.85 on Friday before 3pm and $2 on the weekend. I believe when you purchase an initial card it charges you $10, $2 of which is for the card and $8 for your fare, which is more than sufficient for these two trips.

You can use the metro's trip planner at or Google Maps is surprisingly accurate.

You can also load your card onto your phone after you purchase it if you install the SmarTrip app if you don't want to keep track of your card.


SluggingAndBussing t1_ja1ixq2 wrote

Yeah, I just said 20 for an easy round number that will also work if OP’s flight into DCA is late and they cross into Peak Fare territory on Friday.

Edit: although, hm yes i forgot it’s just one way on each trip. Even if they pay 6 to get to IAD, they only need two more dollars to get back on a weekend to DCA. OP if you are still reading, make it ten bucks.


foreverurgirl t1_ja2rymz wrote



Used_Ad9945 t1_ja2xdo4 wrote

If you plan appropriately, Dan's Cafe is always with you


OhMyGoodnees t1_ja3lm88 wrote

This is a great plan….but if the person coming from another country remember they will waste two hours in emigration. So please plan ahead and give yourself two hours when you are coming to US and leaving US.


SoftwareMaintenance t1_ja41j1w wrote

Yeah this is the way to do it. I myself was initially hesitant to use this metro this in DC. But man. It brings you right to the airports. The cost is pretty cheap too. I got my SmartTrip card, and I am flying the friendly skies. My next trip already scheduled for May through DCA.


Ocean2731 t1_ja2lseq wrote

How much luggage will the OP have? One bag on Metro is fine, but two bags is a big pain. Uber or a taxi would be better if they have anything unwieldy.


ocmike34 t1_ja4mhvw wrote

They said no checked bags. They’ll be fine


dfminvienna t1_ja102yc wrote

Making that trip by metro (subway) will be a lot cheaper and should take only about 15 minutes longer, with no risk of traffic delays. You might consider that option, especially if you don't have much luggage.


economizt t1_ja0zhqa wrote

The metro now connects the airports in about an hour.


LAAFB_throwaway t1_ja14cpp wrote

Agree with all…take the metro. Only additional advice would be leave first airport immediately and take any extra time at the second airport.


Stayshady22 t1_ja0yrj3 wrote

As long as you’re not walking, you’ll be fine


Parking-Steak8032 OP t1_ja0yxsa wrote

Oh good!! I plan to UBER


blind__panic t1_ja101nz wrote

You have more than enough time to metro, and it will save you a lot of money!


10tonheadofwetsand t1_ja1edt7 wrote

Metro. It’ll be more predictable and much cheaper. It’ll be easy, just transfer between Silver and Blue at Rosslyn.


peanut_butterXD t1_ja0znb9 wrote

I would look into taking the metro from DCA out towards Dulles. You can buy a pass at the station. It’ll save you quite a bit of money.


flyrickyfly t1_ja0zm7d wrote

Plenty of time. Even just taking the metro from DCA -> Rosslyn-> IAD would take a little over an hour


Milazzo t1_ja11bl4 wrote

I would budget around an hour and 20 minutes - that's what it has been taking me to get from King St to Reston Town Center. There is a potentially long wait at Rosslyn, and the silver line for some reason slows the hell down after West Falls Church.


SluggingAndBussing t1_ja1eq96 wrote

Well the silver line doesn’t go to west falls church, so there’s the problem. Lol


Milazzo t1_ja2oer8 wrote

Lol East then - wherever the outside trek begins after the split.


bubbabubba345 t1_ja1k6k2 wrote

Does the silver line slow down or is it just insanely far between stations? Every time I’m on 66 or the Dulles toll road those metro trains are going at least 50-6mph


VoodooGirl47 t1_ja1pi7k wrote

I'm not super familiar with metro out that way but there are definitely longer distances between stations once you get out past Ballston.

I think it might have some closer together for the bigger areas like Tysons and Reston, but similar to the East Bay with BART in the SF Bay Area, the further out suburbs will be set up to require people drive and park to each station from that surrounding area for long distance transit use only versus using it locally for super short micro trips in the major city centers (DC and Arlington).


moonbunnychan t1_ja2ic91 wrote

It FEELS much slower for sure.


bubbabubba345 t1_ja4ek4d wrote

I think it's just because the stations, past east falls church (?) are just really far apart. There's the cluster around Tysons, and then it's a 5-10min ride to the next one, and 3-5 min between each one after to the airport.


ocmike34 t1_ja4mql1 wrote

I ride every day from Farragut West to Ashburn. It’s 46 mins from IAD to Rosslyn. 1h 1m from Farragut West to Ashburn.


OhPooForgottheBags t1_ja1084u wrote

Who's making your travel arrangements?


Parking-Steak8032 OP t1_ja10h3s wrote

Me :0 I only have myself to blame! :(


OhPooForgottheBags t1_ja10loj wrote

Yup, cheap flights are so exciting..


Parking-Steak8032 OP t1_ja10u91 wrote

Haha funny thing is it wasn't actually all that cheap, I just have been putting this off and wanted to get it over with quickly I guess 😅


OptionImportant t1_ja11ym9 wrote

i did that once. told the flight assistant when I GOT THERE AND SHE CHANGED IT FOR THE SAME AIRPORT. CAPS GOT STUCK


the5nowman t1_ja2zyfv wrote

Exactly. They admit to being travel anxious and then decide to book separate itineraries at different airports in the same day…?


LizinDC t1_ja14h6t wrote

Another vote for metro. Very easy, just one change at Rosslyn and it's just a few bucks. Last time I took a cab from near dca (where I live) to iad it was 50 dollars!!


iidesune t1_ja18x81 wrote

You'll be fine for the DCA to Dulles leg, but I'd be a little anxious about the international leg from Dulles to DCA. Customs at Dulles is always a train wreck. If you have global entry, go for it. Otherwise, I'd think about some other options.


Moscow_Wahoo t1_ja2wgtq wrote

Yes, this. Just went through customs at IAD yesterday and it took literally two hours to get through. Really felt for people who had connections, because I’m sure a large percentage of them didn’t make it.


AwesomeAndy t1_ja48hmx wrote

I wouldn't say "always." My last time through took maybe 45 minutes total from deboarding, 10 of which was waiting for my wife to get through the non-Global Entry line. Landed around 7:30PM on a Saturday.

But yeah, I agree with the greater sentiment here.


bnosrep t1_ja1g35r wrote

Pay attention to the people who brought up IAD customs. Without Global Entry, it will chew up some of your 5 hours. Probably still fine, but at the very least prepare your expectations.


HealthLawyer123 t1_ja12zku wrote

Do you have global entry? At Dulles you get transported to customs in a mobile lounge, and you may have to wait for the pilots and flight attendants. It can be a slow process when people are slow getting off the plane. I don’t think I would choose it as a US entry point if I didn’t live here.


solidrecommendations t1_ja2sdl4 wrote

Dang, I’ve never had to wait more than 5 minutes for global entry at Dulles … maybe I’ve been lucky

Edit: sorry, I am referring to the after mobile lounge part of the experience


JohnCalvinCoolidge t1_ja31v0v wrote

You've never sat in the people mover for a long time?


solidrecommendations t1_ja3211c wrote

Sure, but that has nothing to do with it taking long to get through global entry vs the regular line, which is what I thought the above comment was about … maybe it was early and I misread


HealthLawyer123 t1_ja3e2xl wrote

It took me 2+ hours to deplane, sit in the mobile lounge and get through customs when I came in through Dulles in December (not during Christmas) without global entry.


JulianInvictus t1_ja2spyx wrote

You’re the guy they built the silver line expansion for. Enjoy it, cherish it, savor it.


RedCarpetRosters t1_ja19tx3 wrote

Now that metro goes to IAD, that's the best and cheapest option. Don't waste your money on Uber. It'll cost about $50.


ashtan t1_ja1p158 wrote

Contrary to what everyone is saying — nah, just kidding, you’ll be fine. Metro will be cheaper, Uber will be easier. Pick your poison.


BuzzFabbs t1_ja1h5y8 wrote

Having commuted from the neighborhood next to the runway (Herndon, VA) to DC for 20 years by car every day, I would STRONGLY recommend taking metro!

The drive from Arlington to Dulles is one of the shittiest ever in the history of shitty drives, even if you are a passenger. I’ve done the Uber from DCA to my house and it was $100+.


colorofmydreams t1_ja16anr wrote

Oh you're totally fine. 4 hours is a leisurely amount of time to get from DCA to IAD. International arrivals at IAD is super fast if you have global entry; if not, you might have to wait in a very long line but you will definitely be fine if you have a 5 hour layover. Even if you're the last to deplane and you wait in a long line, you'll probably clear passport control within two hours of when your plane touches down and have 3 hours to get from IAD to DCA.


StopTheFishes t1_ja12225 wrote

Take an Uber and relax.

You have plenty of time between flights to make it from IAD go DCA and vice versa - and grab a meal.


South_Ambassador_490 t1_ja1brfi wrote

Yeah just metro. Take the a Blue line train that leaves from DCA and transfer at the Rosslyn station to the Silver line towards IAD.


haroldhecuba88 t1_ja1mzv5 wrote

You’ll be fine. Uber or metro will get you there in plenty of time.


solomofo35 t1_ja30fqf wrote

Catch the metro train. Kills time and cheaper than uber


Dry_Butterscotch7229 t1_ja19ua6 wrote

Taxi will be the same price as an Uber and more convenient to get.


AKfromVA t1_ja32vs9 wrote

You’ll make it!


CounselorNebby t1_ja18sn0 wrote

Eh - if money isn't an issue, I'd still plan to Uber.


Rscaroll t1_ja1cu5n wrote

Your Friday afternoon journey from dca to iad should be easy any way you take it but if your morning flight is delayed even just an hour I'd suggest against taking a car/Uber. Reason is the road from dca to the beltway is hov-3 afternoons otherwise consider it an as afternoon toll road and it's not always cheap. $9.25 was the toll for a 3:15pm entry into 66 continuing tonthr dulles toll road (which is not a toll road if you are going to dulles airport) Friday the 24th. Expect it to be much higher as the weather gets better.


pandemictechnologist t1_ja2yaoj wrote

Take the shuttle from Dulles airport to Udvar Hazy - worth it


punkdutch t1_ja30xmk wrote

There used to be a shuttle that would transfer people to the other local airports. A few years ago I took it from IAD to BWI.


ECTXGK t1_ja33alo wrote

The back trip is very tight because customs in IAD is hell and may take 2+ hours.


Zestyclose-Yak-7516 t1_ja33ttf wrote

I would say the TSA lines and customs is where I’d have a bit of concern on both legs. Especially the shorter leg. Yes, the actual trip between airports is not a big deal, but it’s the lines at both airports between TSA and customs that can be a pain in the ass. I’d move quite swiftly to get in line and wait. Don’t knock down any old ladies tho lol. If it’s a week day, you should be pretty ok. If it’s a weekend, you could be waiting quite some time.


BPCGuy1845 t1_ja3l6kc wrote

It’s the perfect amount of time to collect your bags, Metro to Rosslyn, change to Silver line, and recheck bags at IAD. The Metro portion of the trip is an hour and fifteen min or so.


MalHierba t1_ja3xbcu wrote

It’s super easy to transfer between the two. You have plenty of time.


MatrixMaven t1_ja5o2xv wrote

What ab calling the airline and having them make your trip all to & from one airport? Just because you booked it this way doesn’t mean it has to stay this way.


Parking-Steak8032 OP t1_ja5qcln wrote

I called this morning to attempt that, only way to make that change is to add an extra stop each way 😅


MatrixMaven t1_ja5tvlr wrote

😂 I’m sorry I don’t mean to laugh. This is some shit that would happen to me.


Clownsurfer900 t1_ja30d6c wrote

There’s also a bud from the Rosalyn metro that goes directly to Dulles. It takes metro card as well


AwesomeAndy t1_ja48rc2 wrote

Not anymore. They stopped running it shortly after the Silver Line extension opened.


walkandtalkk t1_ja221y6 wrote

Most of the other comments suggest taking Metro. I'd suggest Uber unless you're focused on saving cash. It's, what, $10 to Metro each way? By contrast, unless there's a surge, it'll be about $50 with Uber (plus tip). So, much more expensive, but it depends what $50 extra is worth to you.

The benefit of Uber is that you get in the car, do whatever, and you're there. Traffic may be slow, but half of the ride is on the express road for Dulles, which won't have traffic. Worst possible case? 90 minutes. Realistic bad case? 50-60 minutes. Best case: 35 minutes.

Metro is not hard, but it's possible to get confused at the connection in Rosslyn. If you care about the money, Metro makes lots of sense. But if you're lazy like me, Uber is easier and will take you right up to the terminal.

On the return, you have five hours. You could accidentally board a freight train to Atlanta and still make your connection.


playthehockey t1_ja2dfxn wrote

$10 each way?! Lol. Maximum fare is $3.85 off peak, $6 peak, and $2 on weekends. Metro over Uber, hands down.


Used_Ad9945 t1_ja2xu4m wrote

Concur! If argue metro is less stressful. Most you'll have to wait for a train is ten minutes. I'd rather have that predictability than worry about traffic, money aside.