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Old 01-20-2012, 11:31 AM
 
Location: Washington D.C. By way of Texas
18,594 posts, read 26,961,087 times
Reputation: 9539

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I'd rather use DCA because it's on metro. I'm sure once the Silver Line opens, I wouldn't mind IAD. But as of now, I'd rather use BWI if I can't get to DCA because DCA was so far out of the way. I do believe IAD is the better airport which shouldn't be a surprise.
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Old 01-20-2012, 11:57 AM
 
2,670 posts, read 4,520,914 times
Reputation: 2117
Quote:
Originally Posted by jazzmanjoe123 View Post

...I won't be doing any international travel, and if I do it would be really rare.

I'm choosing to live in Falls Church because I'm commuting to Reston but I wanted to be closer to the city without being too far so I was thinking Falls Church would be a good middle ground.

I'm not sure how long my projects are going to be but at this point, I would assume my projects/locations to change every 2 or 3 months or so. It seems like United is a big hub out here especially at IAD but I'm not really sure if thats the airline I'll be taking most yet.

Thanks for all the responses everyone. I posted this last night and woke up to 4 pages
Thanks for the additional info. Yes, I agree that (depending on where exactly in Falls Church you would be) given you have to commute to Reston, FC may be a good middle ground, even if you decide you want to fly mostly out of DCA.

One other thing to check (online), when you fly out of DCA, is how full the relevant garage is (if you drive and park there). For example, in the summer vacation season, if the daily parking garage near your terminal (they have terminals A, B, & C, with B&C close together and A farther away) is full, this will delay you because you will have to find a spot (e.g., at the remote lot) and hoof it or catch a shuttle to your terminal. The shuttles can be unpredictable. So you would need to add a half hour or more to your transit time.

DCA has a lot of daily air shuttles to east coast cities such as NYC. If you commute there, this is sometimes much more convenient than the train.
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Old 01-20-2012, 12:36 PM
 
Location: Metro Washington DC
13,028 posts, read 19,859,929 times
Reputation: 7641
Quote:
Originally Posted by brenpilot View Post
Another great resource is Flyer Talk: Miles&Points - FlyerTalk Forums
That's the best place on the web for learning to use miles.

I prefer DCA over IAD, but not for any real reason other than its location. It's just easier to get to. I really only use IAD for international flights.
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Old 01-20-2012, 01:13 PM
 
198 posts, read 310,603 times
Reputation: 69
Quote:
Originally Posted by brenpilot View Post
Ughh nothing to congratulate, I can assure you

Sorry for not explaining why I prefer United more in-depth earlier. Let me expand:

Domestically, United, Continental (soon to be United), and US Airways are all in Star Alliance. see the others here:
Home - Star Alliance).

When you search for flights, i recommend you use Yapta, and in the search options, search by "Star Alliance":
Yapta: Track flight prices and check for airline refunds

So, when you search for flights by Star Alliance, any results that come back will give you United miles. Here's how to maximize your miles:

As Carlingtonian suggested, get a United credit card. There are actually a number of 50,000 mile offers out there as well, if interested I can dig one up for you. Another great benefit of having an airline card is it gives you a certain amount of miles that will qualify towards elite status (I think my card is 5000 miles).

Put all of your United/star alliance spending on that card, and link the card on chase to your mileage plus number (if you don't have one yet, get it here: https://www.ua2go.com/profile/Join.do).

Fly Star Alliance airlines whenever possible. Work to hit the bottom tier of elite status, Premier, which is 25,000 miles/year (5000 of which is from spending on the credit card, so you actually only need to fly 20,000 miles a year). Once you hit that status, you earn miles at a rate of 125%.

As an example:

As a premier, you buy a $1,000 ticket from IAD-SEA-IAD. You get 2,000 miles (2 miles per dollar on the United card) for buying the ticket, 2300 miles each way for the flight, and a 575 mile bonus. So, for that one flight, you get almost 8,000 miles (a saver award ticket redeems at 25,000 miles, so for every 3-4 flights you'll get a free roundtrip).


Sorry if this is info overload. I can explain anything else you need if you want!

Another great resource is Flyer Talk: Miles&Points - FlyerTalk Forums

All very good advice, clearly spoken from experience However, one thing I always found a bit tricky was differentiating between the award miles and the Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs). If I recall correctly, in the example you gave above, the ~8K miles would be toward earning a free ticket (i.e., award miles), but only the 4600 miles from the flight distance (and maybe the bonus?) would go toward the EQMs. The EQMs are what determine your level of status (Premier, Premier Exec, 1K, etc).

I just wanted to mention that there is a difference because sometimes all these great "earn miles" offers aren't clear without reading the details. And to be honest, my goal of earning miles is usually more about getting to the next level of status rather than getting award tickets - these days, having early boarding and free bags can be a huge perk. (I don't currently have any status since I had a baby last year and didn't fly much. )
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Old 01-20-2012, 01:18 PM
 
Location: New-Dentist Colony
5,738 posts, read 8,943,215 times
Reputation: 3857
Quote:
Originally Posted by NoVA_Lurker View Post
All very good advice, clearly spoken from experience However, one thing I always found a bit tricky was differentiating between the award miles and the Elite Qualifying Miles (EQMs).
Yeah, very important to differentiate between those. EQMs are only useful if you have a real chance of actually getting to elite status (which I don't, as I don't fly often enough anymore). Otherwise, you're better off with bonus miles.
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Old 01-20-2012, 03:55 PM
 
3,764 posts, read 2,972,833 times
Reputation: 7484
Living in Fairfax, IAD was more convenient for me if I was departing from home, but DCA is far less hassle in terms of parking (economy parking is a breeze), security, etc.

However, Vino Volo has made IAD sooooo worth it. Now I get there early just so I can go have a glass of red and a salad before boarding.
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Old 01-20-2012, 07:15 PM
 
182 posts, read 539,592 times
Reputation: 112
Quote:
Originally Posted by brenpilot View Post
Ughh nothing to congratulate, I can assure you

Sorry for not explaining why I prefer United more in-depth earlier. Let me expand:

Domestically, United, Continental (soon to be United), and US Airways are all in Star Alliance. see the others here:
Home - Star Alliance).

When you search for flights, i recommend you use Yapta, and in the search options, search by "Star Alliance":
Yapta: Track flight prices and check for airline refunds

So, when you search for flights by Star Alliance, any results that come back will give you United miles. Here's how to maximize your miles:

As Carlingtonian suggested, get a United credit card. There are actually a number of 50,000 mile offers out there as well, if interested I can dig one up for you. Another great benefit of having an airline card is it gives you a certain amount of miles that will qualify towards elite status (I think my card is 5000 miles).

Put all of your United/star alliance spending on that card, and link the card on chase to your mileage plus number (if you don't have one yet, get it here: https://www.ua2go.com/profile/Join.do).

Fly Star Alliance airlines whenever possible. Work to hit the bottom tier of elite status, Premier, which is 25,000 miles/year (5000 of which is from spending on the credit card, so you actually only need to fly 20,000 miles a year). Once you hit that status, you earn miles at a rate of 125%.

As an example:

As a premier, you buy a $1,000 ticket from IAD-SEA-IAD. You get 2,000 miles (2 miles per dollar on the United card) for buying the ticket, 2300 miles each way for the flight, and a 575 mile bonus. So, for that one flight, you get almost 8,000 miles (a saver award ticket redeems at 25,000 miles, so for every 3-4 flights you'll get a free roundtrip).


Sorry if this is info overload. I can explain anything else you need if you want!

Another great resource is Flyer Talk: Miles&Points - FlyerTalk Forums
Thanks again. I'll shoot you a PM with questions so I don't get too far off-topic here.
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Old 01-20-2012, 07:18 PM
 
290 posts, read 462,161 times
Reputation: 291
If you are doing regular travel, I'd think about looking to live somewhere near metro so you could get to DCA without driving and parking. I don't know how familiar you are with DC traffic, but you are quickly going to tire of dealing with it. When you fly a lot, you want to minimize the hassles and time taken surrounding the flight as much as possible. At DCA, you hop on the metro, get through a quick security line. So this means you get to leave that much earlier from home for your flight.

The problem with both airports is that flights out of each change frequently. So one year might have your perfect route at a perfect time, but things change and all of a sudden that flight is axed. It all depends on your destination and also if you are paying for the flight or your employer is. If your employer is, it probably doesn't matter as much.

IAD is just a lot more stressful for me to fly out of because it takes longer to get there, takes longer to get to the terminal after parking because the lots are so large. Longer to get through security, and longer to get to your actual gate. DCA is one of the best airports in the country for its proximity. When I lived in Alexandria, I literally WALKED to the airport. It actually has sidewalks enabling you to do that. What other airport can say that?
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Old 01-20-2012, 09:55 PM
 
Location: San Francisco/East Bay and Los Angeles, formerly DC and Boston
2,133 posts, read 3,418,211 times
Reputation: 1796
I pick the airline before the airport, but no question DCA is much nicer and easier once you're there...regardless of how long your ride to the airport is.
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Old 01-21-2012, 12:54 AM
 
373 posts, read 715,134 times
Reputation: 378
Quote:
Originally Posted by CapsChick View Post
However, Vino Volo has made IAD sooooo worth it. Now I get there early just so I can go have a glass of red and a salad before boarding.
This. I mentally add $40 to the price of my ticket to account for the lalalala I will feel as the death trap barrels down the runway.

I use IAD for international flights and DCA for domestic. I refuse to pick up non-international travelers from any place other than DCA. This leads to frequent fights with family members who don't understand it's not worth it to me to sit in traffic for a few hours so they can save $50.
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