United, Virgin America start Washington National-SFO flights

By John Walton, June 7 2012

United Airlines and Virgin America are the latest to fly to Washington's city-centre National Airport (DCA), with United flights from San Francisco's SFO.

United's flight runs on a Boeing 737-700, the shorter 737 type that Virgin Australia uses closer to home. You'll find twelve first class seats on board, similar to those you'd find in a domestic Australian business class. Flights started overnight Australian time, and run daily between the two cities.

Virgin America, too, will be flying from San Francisco to Washington National using a slightly larger Airbus A320, though those flights start later this US summer and have only just been announced.

While United's flight times don't connect directly to its trans-Pacific flights to Sydney and Melbourne, extra services from National will provide useful to business travellers stopping over in San Francisco for meetings or just a break-of-journey en route home to Australia.

American Airlines' flights from National to Los Angeles' LAX, which do connect to Qantas' westbound flights, are planned to start in June.

Washington National (DCA) is a much more convenient airport than its larger cousin Washington Dulles (IAD), which is a fair drive out into the state of Virginia, and you'll see why if you're familiar with the geography of the US capital.

With a location just across the Potomac River from Washington DC proper, a stop on the Metro subway system and a smaller, easier to navigate terminal, National is a far better option than Dulles.

John Walton
John Walton

John Walton

Aviation journalist and travel columnist John took his first long-haul flight when he was eight weeks old and hasn't looked back since. Well, except when facing rearwards in business class.


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