Every single time I fly into BWI Airport in Baltimore, I make a solemn vow to never do it again. Everything usually goes fine until I’m trying to get home from the airport. Then it all goes to hell. The night always ends with me tired to the point of delirium and missing my ride, my possessions, and/or my sanity.
But somehow when it comes time to buy plane tickets again the bad memories dim and I am seduced by the cheaper rates and more direct flights. I convince myself once more that it won’t be so bad.
It always is.
August 2009: This was my first time flying into BWI and in fact the first time I had ever booked a flight into the DC area myself. I was immediately taken in by the difference in price between BWI and the other two major DC airports. I knew it was further away and not accessible by metro. But once I found out there was a MARC train that only cost $6 and went from the airport to Union Station, which was only about a mile from my apartment at the time, I was sold. Oh the naïveté.
Everything went smoothly until my flight back was delayed by a few minutes. Not a long time by any means, but just enough to make me miss the 9 p.m. train. The next one was not until 10:20. I arrived at Union Station too late for both the metro and my highly-anticipated dinner at Sbarro’s. Which is how I ended up starving and wondering the streets at midnight, attempting with only limited success to drag my suitcase with the malfunctioning wheels.
June 2010: I don’t even remember what possessed me to look at BWI when I was making travel plans for The Former Expatriate’s wedding. My flight back to DC was on July 4th and I realized right before boarding the plane that there would be no MARC train because of the holiday. I hadn’t really slept the night before so again I found myself towing a suitcase half asleep through the airport. A long bus ride followed by a longer metro ride seemed to be my only option. I had been carrying my purse in my backpack all day since I could only have one personal item besides my carry-on suitcase, so it wasn’t until I sat at the bus stop that I finally took it out.
Just as I was trying to find my metro pass while talking to my Mom on the phone, I saw the shuttle for the train pull in behind me. Deciding the train might be running after all, I ran across the street and onto the shuttle. It was only after it had pulled away that I realized I no longer had my purse. I was only gone from that bus stop for 30 to 60 seconds, but it was enough to leave me with no ID, no metro pass, no cash, and no credit cards. After an hour of walking around with an airport cop while he checked all the trash cans with no success, The Tangential One came to my rescue and gave me a ride home. Two weeks later I received my wallet in the mail with a message from the Post Office that roughly translated to: “The dude who stole your purse chucked your wallet in the nearest mail slot after he realized there was no monetary gain to be had from it.”
December 26, 2011: You would think by this point I would have learned not only to not fly into BWI, but also to not do it on a holiday weekend. Again I realized right before take-off that the MARC train was not running. But this time I also got to sit in an airplane on a runway at Nassau Airport with my parents for three hours. Meaning they were not going to make their flight home, and I would again by missing out on the deliciousness that is Sbarro. Tragic, I know.
Once I knew they had a hotel and early flight out the next morning, I went to Airport Information and asked the nice old man there about my options. He said I could either take the bus or catch an Amtrak train, which ran the same route to Union Station. “But isn’t it a lot more expensive than the MARC train?” I asked. “No,” he said, “it’s still only $6.” Great! Except for when I arrived at the Amtrak station and saw the person in front of me in line cringe when she realized she had just spent $41 on what she thought was the $6 train leaving in one minute. I decided a 20 minute was worth only having to pay $27 and after waiting for 40 minutes, the train finally came. An hour later and I was making the now familiar starving walk home in the dark with my suitcase.
BWI, you truly are a cruel mistress. I refuse to fall for your charms again. Probably.