Well, it would appear that I’m finally underway. I’m sitting here in the airport – what could go wrong now? – but after so many misfires, I’m having trouble processing the fact that it’s for real this time. So instead of contemplating the excitement and terror of traveling alone to a foreign country for many months, I thought I’d review the airport.
Airport Review: Reagan National Airport (DCA)
There was no line, and the clerk who tagged my luggage was helpful and friendly – seeing that I was struggling with my bags, he even took them over to the security screening area for me. On the downside, the automated check-in kiosk was fussy.
It’s tough to assign a grade for this one, because I found the security to be thorough to a fault. I opted out of the newfangled x-ray gadget, so I got the usual pat-down (which I always used to get anyway – the curse of the skirt-wearers), and apparently my machzor set off some flags. (?) Still, if they were inconveniencing someone else, I’d appreciate the caution, so I suppose I can’t fault them.
Signs are clear and easy to follow. No bonus points for typography, though.
Crowd Management: ???
On this particular day, the airport was practically empty, so I can’t comment on this.
Gate Seating: B-
To their credit, there’s room to pass between two rows of seats. On the other hand, it’s still two hours before the flight, and I can already tell there won’t be enough.
Power Outlets: B
This always irks me. Every single traveler passing through here is carrying chargeable electronics and their power adapters, yet there are only a few power outlets, and they are not located in the gate seating area. But at least there are designated charging stations, though they are somewhat oddly placed.
Wireless Internet: A
Praise God! The wireless is free! It’s absolutely astounding to me that so many airports still don’t offer free wireless. Unfortunately, the internet connection is very slow, but I’m not looking a gift horse in the mouth.
Cleanliness of Bathrooms: B
As airport bathrooms go, this one wasn’t bad. It was clean, well-stocked, and the floors and counters weren’t flooded.
I wasn’t going to add this category, since obviously I won’t be patronizing any of the various food purveyors, but I thought others might like to know that down at my end of Terminal C, there’s a Five Guys, which seems to be a burger place, a Gordon Biersch, a Cinnabon, and several variations on Dunkin Donuts.
The shops are exactly as weird as airport shops usually are. Brooks Brothers? In an airport? Then there’s that miscellany shop every airport has – it’s never called the same thing, but they all sell luggage and earrings and women’s flowy tops – plus an electronics store, a DC-themed souvenir shop and various newsstands.
Overall, this is a pretty average airport. There’s nothing beautiful or interesting about it, but there’s free wireless and it works and that’s enough for me.