Dulles Airport is not what it used to be – and that’s a good thing.
It’s amazing how, with the passing of time and the Airports 2.0 transformation that is sweeping the aviation industry, a terrible airport can become a great one. That has certainly been the case for Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD), affectionately known as Dulles Airport. When I lived in Northern Virginia 5 years ago, I would DREAD having to fly out of Dulles Airport. I would purposely try to take flights out of Reagan National whenever possible to avoid the crowds, the impossible security situation, and the ridiculous and slow-moving people movers. I also can think of a dozen other reasons why Dulles Airport used to suck – including the terrible food and shopping options (the best souvenir you could hope to buy was a CIA hat). Not to mention the horribly inefficient passport control and customs process when arriving to Dulles Airport from overseas – it always annoyed me that the longest and slowest line was the line for American citizens.
But all this has changed, which is why we are unveiling the tripchi airport mobile app with Dulles Airport as one of First Five airports built out.
I’ll prove it to you. Here’s why Dulles Airport is suddenly awesome.
- First of all, did you know there’s now a slick Aerotrain connecting all the terminals? Gone are the days of people-mover ignominy, where we felt more like cattle being herded, shoved, and man-handled to be sent to the slaughter. Much welcomed is the Dulles Airport underground Aerotrain that is spacious, efficient, and most importantly, frequent.
- Art. Yes, Dulles Airport has some! Seriously I don’t remember ANY art years ago – it was the blandest, most 1950s Soviet block architecture, cold and unenjoyable airport I had ever visited. But fast forward a few years, and Dulles Airport is undergoing an extreme makeover to become warm, friendly, enjoyable and (gasp), lovable. Who doesn’t love Photographic Exhibits of really really tiny things?
And who doesn’t like exhibits of human-powered MIT-invented airplanes (Daedalus)? (no joke)
- Healthy food options. Years ago I would have scoffed at the prospects – cramming bananas and turkey sandwiches into my backpack to avoid the prospect of eating at Dulles Airport. But that’s not the Dulles Airport of today. Not only are there healthy fast-food grab-n-go options, like the fresh-food Dulles Gourmet market,
but there’s also healthy and fun sit-down restaurants like Vino Volo.
At Vino Volo, you can get your wine and tapas on and not feel bad about yourself! tripchi tip: don’t forget to download the Vino Volo app prior to dining so that you can get discounts on special tastings and flights, and earn loyalty rewards off all purchases!
- Too healthy for you? Well there’s also other delicious and modern (but decidedly NOT health food) dining options now at Dulles Airport. Homer Simpson would salivate for a Five Guys Burger in a pinch, and now – so can you!
And if you’re craving something sweet, check out luv’n berry. Although really easy to misspell, it’s still berry-licious.
I love that Dulles Airport has finally gotten with the picture and embraced the verry froyo craze (although sadly I didn’t see any Pinkberry).
- The discovery of the kiosk. Malls had uncovered this savvy shopping secret years ago, but it’s taken airports much longer to catch up. Luckily, in Dulles Airport’s newly remodeled A and B concourses, prime center shopping space has not been wasted. Kiosks are beginning to line the terminal, offering yet another welcomed distraction from being bored and staring mindlessly into space at the airport. The best part is that the Dulles Airport kiosks are actually useful (I can’t say the same for malls). Yes, I totally could use a chair massage, thank you very much (and then go eat at luv’n berry).
- Much improved shopping. In fact, one of my favorite parts of wandering around for 5 hours taking pictures and thinking of content for this blog was actually window shopping. And if I wasn’t running a bootstrapped startup, I would have bought something! My favorite was Appalachian Spring – which offered a gorgeous art gallery of pottery, paintings, jewelry, and other very tasteful art and decor that was just a pleasure to browse through.
A close second was the Smithsonian Museum Store – which, if you’re a Washington insider, you would know has amazing art, gifts, and souvenirs from all over the world, curated especially for uniqueness, quality, and wow-factor.
- More efficient international arrivals passport control and customs. While this particular trip a few weeks ago was a domestic trip, in January 2014 I transited through Dulles Airport on my way back from Ethiopia into the US. Unlike my experience years ago, I breezed through passport control with my handy-dandy Global Entry. Even the non-Global Entry line was moving fast – and FINALLY, American citizen were rewarded with short lines the same as foreign visitors.
- Lastly, the long awaited charging station. Need I say more? And there’s not just one – they’re peppered throughout the entire airport. tripchi insider tip – use the tripchi mobile app to locate all the charging stations!
Conclusion: Dulles Airport decidedly does not suck (anymore)
Hopefully I’ve done my job well here and convinced you not to stay away from Dulles Airport in favor of Reagan (DCA) or the often lower-cost Baltimore (BWI) airports. Not only did Dulles Airport NOT SUCK this time around, but I can honestly say I enjoyed it. Granted, Concourses C and D are still in dire need of a makeover…but with the addition of the Aerotrain, you can spend most of your time in the pleasure-filled A and B Concourses and then zip back over to C or D within 10 minutes of boarding.
So, next time you’re visiting Washington, don’t forget to take the tripchi airport app with you – so you too can enjoy your airport experience!