Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) is the closest international airport to downtown Washington DC. It is located just three miles south of downtown, just across the Potomac River in Arlington VA. Locals often refer to the airport as “Reagan”, “National”, or it’s code “DCA”. Be careful to double check your itinerary so as not to confuse this airport with the larger Dulles International (IAD) located several miles away into suburban Virginia. The airports are not close to each other, so a mistake could result in a missed flight.
Flights traveling to or from DCA are typically restricted to short distance flights, within 1250 miles (though there are exceptions for a few cross-country flights each day), which means that direct flights cross-country or internationally from the airport are limited.
For flight information, travel, parking and more, see the airport’s official site.
Getting to DCA
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is easy to get to from Washington DC. Public transportation provides easy access to Washington DC, Northern Virginia, and Maryland, and close proximity to downtown DC makes taxi and shuttle service inexpensive and convenient.
DCA is directly serviced by Metro’s blue and yellow lines. From the airport, taking the blue line in the direction of Largo Town Center will take you through several downtown DC locations. Similarly, the yellow line toward Fort Totten or Greenbelt travels through the district. Both lines offer stops on and near the National Mall. The airport’s metro station is located across from the second level of terminals B and C.
Two MetroBus routes stop at DCA: 13F and 13G. These routes provide transportation to locations in Arlington and Washington DC, including the Pentagon, Federal Triangle, and the Smithsonian metro stations. Buses stop near terminal B.
Taxi and Shuttle
Taxi stands are located outside of all airport terminals, and can be a convenient way to get to your final destination. With only a 5 mile trip to downtown DC, trips are not likely to exceed the $20 range. Additionally, many area hotels will offer shuttle service (contact your hotel for specifics about their amenities).
Inside the Airport
DCA has three terminals. Terminals B and C are located in the main portion of the airport with three floors. Passenger drop-off, ticketing and check-in are on the third floor, the main concourse, gate access, and metrorail access are on the second floor, and baggage claim and ground transportation are on the first floor. Terminals B and C house gates 10-45, which are located beyond three checkpoints. Gates 10-22 are accessed through the southmost checkpoint (located in of Terminal B). Gates 23-34 can be found beyond a checkpoint between the two terminals. The security checkpoint for gates 35-45 are located to the far north of the airport in Terminal C.
Terminal A is found at the far south of the airport, with its own passenger drop off, ground transportation, ticketing, check-in, and baggage claim services. The walk between the Metrorail Station (near Terminals B and C) and Terminal A is nearly a quarter mile! Terminal A houses gates 1-9.
Each terminal has nearby hourly (for stays less than 2 hours), and daily parking lots, each with shuttle transportation to the airport terminals. The airport also has economy parking located nearby, and a cellphone lot for those waiting to pick up arriving passengers.