So you're visiting Virginia. Will Richmond International Airport give you the cheapest, best flights? Dulles? Norfolk?
As always, it depends on your individual circumstances. Keep reading for our favorite Park-Fly Deal hotel!
I've put together some pages to help you make your decision and give you valuable information about each airport, including:
I'll also give you links to air travel tips, including traveling with kids, airport security rules, and how to make your flight a breeze.
I'll start with the most central airport for visiting Virginia.
|Who is this guy, why does he have a bucket on his |
head, and what does he have to do with Virginia
airports? See below.
Even before we moved to Virginia, Richmond International Airport (I'll sometimes refer to it by its acronym, RIC) was our favorite. Having lived in California, New York, and Detroit, Michigan, and having to deal with the huge airports there, RIC was a breath of fresh air.
In fact, whenever I fly back into RIC, it's such a relief (especially after flying through the zoo known as LAX) that I ALWAYS say "I LOVE this airport!"
Moderate-sized, easy to get to, and virtually never crowded, Richmond is a pleasure to fly in and out of. That by itself would be reason enough for us to choose it as "our" airport over Washington, DC's Dulles International Airport, even if RIC weren't closer. After all, you don't want to start your vacation stressed out because of a congested airport.
Yes, you may be more likely to get cheap flight deals at Dulles, but you'll pay for it with longer lines, dealing with DC traffic, and potential parking headaches. Plus, RIC is more central to Virginia Beach, Williamsburg, Busch Gardens Williamsburg, and central Virginia.
So unless you're planning to spend part of your vacation in Washington, DC or northern Virginia, I don't recommend Dulles. Go with RIC or Norfolk International Airport or Williamsburg airport.
Speaking of Norfolk, that's where my brother-in-law, John (alias Bucketman) prefers to fly in to. He lives in New York and is always looking for late evening flights that get him as close as possible to my in-law's house in Smithfield (just over the bridge from Newport News and Hampton. So Norfolk works best for him.
That's a picture of him above from his visit last summer, pretending to be a superhero called "Bucketman." Our kids love it.
Richmond International Airport is located seven miles southeast of Richmond, the Virginia's capital. It's less than an hour drive from Williamsburg and a two-hour drive from Washington, D.C., the Blue Ridge Mountains, and Virginia Beach. Next to Dulles, it's the largest airport in Virginia.
As a former Californian, having spent way too many hours beating Los Angeles traffic and the intracacies of LA Airport, I find RIC a breath of fresh air...it's so easy to get to and navigate. (Go to our Richmond Airport Facts page for a map of the terminal.)
Whichever direction you're coming from, it's hard to miss.
From the West (Richmond and Charlottesville): Take I-64 east to Exit 197A (Airport Drive). Or, take I-295 east to Exit 31.
From the East: Take I-64 west to Exit 197A; or take I-295 west to Exit 31.
From the North: Take I-95 south to I-64 east to Exit 197A. Take I-95 south to I-295 east to Exit 31.
From the South: Take I-95 north to I-64 east to Exit 197A. Take I-95 north to I-295 east to Exit 31.
Richmond International Airport address: Richard E. Byrd Terminal Drive, RIC, VA 23250-2400
Richmond International Airport Phone Number: (804) 226-3000
Emergency (804) 226-0001
Airport Badging (804) 226-3056
Lost and Found (804) 226-3056
TTY (804) 222-9781
What air carriers service RIC? What are their phone and baggage claim numbers? What food options are available at the airport? How can you get a map of the terminal?
There are a number of nearby hotels to choose from. Some of them have Park, Stay, Fly deals, where you spend the night, leave your car there during your trip, and take a shuttle to and from the airport. These can be really good deals, especially if you have a late night or early morning arrival or departure in Richmond.
The Park and Fly deals include one night's lodging plus 7 to 21 days of free parking. Details depend on the hotel.
These are the hotels near the airport that have Park, Stay, Fly deals (plus how far they are from the airport and their rating):
We've stayed here several times before flying out on an early morning flight, and it's our top choice. Large, comfy rooms; free, self-serve continental breakfast (we grabbed yummy cinnamon rolls at 5 am before heading off on our free shuttle to the airport last month, and they rolls were HOT at 5 am!); free shuttle leaving every half hour (with REALLY friendly drivers); and indoor pool.
At $109 per night including 7 days free parking (we stayed 8 days and they didn't charge any extra), I think that's a steal. Plus, my kids love getting there early the evening before a flight so they can just chill and watch cable TV. Contact the hotel directly to get their park-fly deal at 1-804-222-1499.
TIP!If you're using the shuttle when you arrive at the airport, be aware that the shuttle may not read "Holiday Inn Express." They share the shuttle with the nearby Holiday Inn and Hilton Garden Inn, so look for a shuttle that reads "Richmond Airport Shuttle."
Wingate Inn Richmond Airport - 1 mile - 2 stars
Deal includes one night lodging plus 14 days of parking and free shuttle
Wingate Inn Richmond Airport address: 491 International Center Drive, Sandston, VA 23150
Click here for Wingate Inn Richmond Airport reservations.
Comfort Inn Airport - 1 Mile - 2 stars
Deal includes one night lodging plus 7 days of parking and free shuttle
Comfort Inn Airport address: 7201 W. Broad St., Richmond, VA 23294
Click here for Comfort Inn Airport reservations.
Other Richmond Airport hotels:
Microtel Inn Airport -
Doubletree Airport -
Econo Lodge Airport -
Days Inn Airport -
Courtyard by Marriott -
Clarion Hotel Sandston -
Commonwealth Park Suites -
Omni Richmond Hotel -
Hampton Inn Richmond -
vCrowne Plaza Hotel -
RIC is a breeze when it comes to parking. When we had to deal with New York's LaGuardia and JFK, or even Detroit Metro Airport, we had to allow a good 30-45 minutes to get the car parked and get into the terminal, just in case the parking garage was full or we had to wait for a shuttle.
At RIC, except for Economy Parking, there is no shuttle...the terminal's so small that there's no need for one! (The terminal's small size seems to help with the timeliness of its baggage claim too--we've never had to wait for our bags for more than a few minutes.)
Here are the RIC Parking Options:
If you're picking up or dropping off passengers, use Hourly Parking.
My husband always refuses to use the Economy Parking lots when we fly out of Richmond. No matter how much I plead, and how much money I tell him we'll save, he always insists on paying extra for the Daily Parking lot. Why?
1) He thinks that the Daily lot is safer (although I've never heard any evidence to support that idea).
2) He doesn't want to be bothered with waiting for a shuttle to the airport, and fears it might make us miss our flight.
Are his fears realistic? You have to do whatever you feel comfortable with, but I can tell you this: compared to other international airports, RIC is one of the easier and safer airports in the nation to use the external parking lots.
(I'll keep working on my husband!)
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