As every savvy traveler knows, a low airfare is only the beginning. The real work? That starts when you touch down in your destination, where costs can easily run away from you. And it starts right at the airport. If you’re not careful, you can easily spend as much getting into town as you did on the flight that brought you there. (Been to New York lately?)
That’s why we’re taking a break from telling you about low fares to talk to you about…ta da… ground transportation. (We can tell – you’re totally excited right now.) Seriously, though, you will be, when we show you how cheaply you can get things done. This week, we’re analyzing the situation at Baltimore-Washington International; who's for crabs?
Baltimore gets no respect – what's easily the most well-connected airport in North America (we are not joking around about this) is not necessarily known for being the most anything. Moral of the story: Some towns talk about transit, others just have it. Baltimore sits squarely in the latter camp; how many American cities can brag light rail service directly into the terminal? (Answer: Not too many!) Walk past Baggage Claim carousel 14 and you'll see the platform directly ahead; fares to the city are just $1.60 each way. To get to Washington, the cheapest method is to catch the B30 bus (operated by the Washington Metro Area Transit Authority) in front of baggage claim; the bus runs every 40 minutes all day long to the Greenbelt station on the Washington Metro Green Line, offering a direct ride into the center of the city. For a more direct ride to Washington, hop the continuous free shuttle to the BWI Rail Station, just a few minutes away. Here you can hop on board both MARC suburban rail trains (serving the corridor between Washington and Baltimore) as well as Amtrak trains to New York and beyond. Like we said -- connectivity!
The most popular service in and out of BWI is SuperShuttle; this is a shared-ride van service; the fee to Baltimore's Inner Harbor is $22; you can also book a private car through them for $45 for up to 3 people. Considering the base rate is barely $10 cheaper than a taxi (see below), this isn't the best value, not by a long shot.
Access to arrivals is limited by the local government; all arriving passengers must use the approved BWI Airport Taxi service; fares to Baltimore's Inner Harbor run about $35. To Washington DC, plan on paying approximately $90 each way.
If you’re renting a car, it’s worth considering whether or not you’ve got somewhere cheap – or free, better yet – to park it in your destination. Valet parking, often mandatory at downtown hotels, can run you upwards of $30 per night. If you decide to rent at BWI, you'll find the process to be a little cumbersome; a shuttle runs every 10 minutes all day long to the consolidated rental facility, which is located nearly a ten-minute ride away; it's possible for the transfer process, including wait times, to take over half an hour. If you do rent, to find the lowest car rental rates in Baltimore, visit our buddies over at Autoslash.
BROWSER (AND FRIENDS) SAY:
No question – when we're Baltimore-bound, we hop the light rail into town and pick up a car at a downtown rental counter if we need to go further afield. For Washington, that's even more of a certainty – having wheels in our nation's capital these days is more of a liability than an asset. Frankly, if we're headed for DC, we wouldn't use BWI, unless fares were drastically lower than those into Reagan-National, located just a couple of Metro stops away from the heart of the District. If we got super-low fares though, ones that weren't available to National, we'd shuttle it over to the BWI Rail Station and hop the MARC train into Washington's Union Station.
Learn more about Thurgood Marshall/Baltimore-Washington International at www.bwiairport.com. See what’s up in Baltimore at www.baltimore.org. And, of course, here's the latest list of airfares to and from BWI.