Washington Reagan Airport parking
The airport parking at DCA is organized around three multi-story covered parking garages; one for each terminal. An economy lot is located to one side of the terminal buildings and a cell phone waiting area is close to Terminal C. There are electric vehicle charging stations and all on-site parking can be reserved.
Picking up and dropping off
Passenger pick-up and drop-off areas are designated curbside in front of each terminal building. If you are picking up passengers who have some time to clear baggage reclaim and customs, you can wait at the cell-phone lot for free and they can call you to meet them outside arrivals, which is just a few seconds’ drive away. If you need to leave your car, short-term hourly parking rates are available in all the parking garages.
Short-term hourly parking with a daily maximum charge is available in each parking garage opposite the terminal buildings. They are intended for anyone dropping passengers off or staying for a matter of hours, but they are also the most conveniently located if that's a priority to you; they are just a short walk from the terminal buildings.
Long-term economy parking is available in an uncovered lot to the side of the terminal buildings. Complimentary shuttle buses run between the lot and the terminals and take a few minutes to reach curbside.
Off-site airport parking
There are also many off-site parking lots within a few miles of the airport. These offer two main services: a low-cost Park and Ride option whereby you self-park and take a shuttle bus to the airport, or a valet parking option, whereby you leave your car at the curb, hand over the keys and let them do the rest.
You can explore the lots and parking packages available here at Looking4Parking.com to make comparisons between them and online reservations when you have chosen.
Guide to Washington Reagan Airport
- (+1) 703-417-8000
- DC 20001
- TA, TB, TC
- Car, bus, train, taxi, rental
- Free access across terminals and concourses
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) is an international airport located close to Washington DC in the state of Virginia. It is the nearest airport to the capital and carries over 20 million passengers a year from across the Baltimore-Washington Metro area. Acting as a hub for American Airlines, Ronald Reagan Airport has near-hourly shuttle flight services to New York and Boston on both American and Delta services.
A medium-term plan with Reagan Airport and the nearby Washington-Dulles Airport is to push long-haul and non-stop international flights to Washington-Dulles, so a journey limit of 1,250 miles (2,011.7 kilometers) has been placed on all non-stop flights at DCA to assist this process. A handful of exceptions allow internal flights to distant American cities such as Denver, Los Angeles or Salt Lake.
Due to its proximity to the capital - it is far closer than either of the international Washington airports - Ronald Reagan Airport is subject to some of the strictest security regulations of any airport in the country. Fortunately, international flights focus on business customers with a small immigration and customs facility for business jets, which limits passenger numbers and the likelihood of delays.
With stunning views of the city at take-off and landing, good public transport connections and high-quality customer service, the airport is popular with local travelers and ideally located for passengers coming to visit Washington DC.
Location of Ronald Reagan National Airport
Located in Arlington, Virginia, Washington DC Airport, commonly known as Ronald Reagan Airport, is in the DC 20001 ZIP code area, next to the Potomac River and just five miles (eight kilometers) from Downtown DC. It is ideally located for towns and cities surrounding DC, including Baltimore, Alexandria, Bethesda, Rockville, Gaithersburg, Columbia, Ellicott City and even the more distant Harrisburg, Richmond and Philadelphia.
The I-95 along the east coast splits into a loop road when it reaches Washington DC. From the south, the I-395 runs on into the city center from the I-95 and passes the airport. From the north, you can come through the city on the DC 295, joining the I-395 after crossing the Potomac River.
Public transport options are provided by bus and rail from Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA). Metrorail Yellow Line trains, which run from the north to the south of the city via the city center, and Blue Line trains running from the east of the city to the south, both call at the airport station and Metrobus has a stop outside the terminal buildings, which runs to the airport from the city center of DC.
History of Ronald Reagan National Airport
Ronald Reagan National Airport was established in 1940, when construction began to create a national airport in Washington that was in a better location than Washington-Hoover Airport, which served the city at the time. Originally named Washington National Airport, DCA opened its doors in 1941 after a complex construction reclaiming land from the Potomac River.
The airport was immediately popular, with almost 350,000 passengers in the first year and over two million visitors going just to see the airport and visit the observation terrace overlooking the runways. Terminal expansions were carried out in 1950 and 1955 and a new terminal building was added in the 1960s as passenger numbers passed five million a year. Numbers doubled over the next decade, but by the 1970s, they slowed slightly to a rate of steady growth, reaching 15 million passengers in 1994.
In 1998, the airport was renamed Ronald Reagan National, honoring the 40th President of the United States on his 87th birthday. A new terminal complex was also constructed to further extend passenger capacity, but demand didn’t change much until 2010, after which it sky-rocketed. Around 18 million passengers passed through the airport that year. By 2016, it served almost 24 million people and ushered in a new phase of development and expansion.
DCA offers a range of restaurants, shopping and services that you would expect from an airport of its size; shopping covers all the essentials and there's a good selection of food available across the various terminals.
It's worth noting that concessions usually close overnight, so if you have a delayed flight or plan to stay overnight at the airport, make sure you get some snacks before 10pm.
Travelers Aid, a volunteer program supporting passengers with a wide range of services, operates at Reagan National Airport. Their volunteers are stationed at the information desks in all terminal buildings.
If you need to speak to someone in advance of traveling, your airline is often the best option to contact first; it is your airline that will, for instance, arrange a wheelchair if you require one. Reagan Airport customer services can be contacted on (+1) 703-417-8000.
- Short-term parking
- Long-term parking
- Covered parking garages
- Economy parking lot
- Reserved parking
- Cell phone lot
- Electric vehicle charging stations
- Bus stop and train station
- Hotel shuttles
- CLEAR and TSA PreCheck
- Airline lounges
- USO lounge
- Duty free
- Gifts and souvenirs
- Apparel and accessories
- Technology and gadgets
- Books and newsstands
- Fast food
- Snacks, delis and sandwiches
- Food market
- American, Italian, Asian, Mexican and Lebanese cuisine
- Art exhibitions
- Historic exhibit hall
- Spa and massage
- Nursing rooms
- Travelers Aid
- Interfaith chapel
- Information desks
- Lost and found
- Conference rooms
- Currency exchange
- Disabled access
- Pet relief areas
Washington Reagan Airport hotel and parking
A popular service provided at some hotels close to Ronald Reagan Airport are the hotel and parking packages. Anyone booking in advance and staying for one night at the hotel can also park for free in the hotel lot for up to a week, taking a free shuttle bus to the airport terminals and back.
These packages can make economic sense if you are going to be away for around a week, since they can be cheaper than the typical parking options even if you don’t use the hotel room. If you do choose a room, it’s a better option than staying overnight in the uncomfortable airport and it guarantees you a safe and secure parking space.
Holiday Inn and Old Colony Inn, both in Alexandria just a few minutes’ drive from the airport, provide packages for Ronald Reagan passengers. The Old Colony Inn offers a basic service with fully stocked rooms and a free breakfast, whilst the Holiday Inn is a small step up with restaurants and room service to boot.
Top things to do in Washington Reagan Airport
Relax with a spa and massage
Found pre-security in the National Hall, there's a great opportunity to wind down from a stressful drive and be completely relaxed before you go onto your flight. The XpresSpa offers a range of back, neck and hand massages that can be as short as 15 minutes or as long as an hour, whilst they also offer beauty treatments like manicures and facials.
You’ll also find the iRelax-n-Massage in the National Hall to help you with relief from chronic and acute body pain using electrophysiology techniques.
Enjoy great airport food
Reagan National Airport has a surprising range of food available, including many satellites of popular DC restaurants. There's chili and hot dogs from U Street's Ben's Chili Bowl, Hoagies from locals, Taylor Gourmet, breakfast bowls and a Greek yogurt bar at the Cava Mezze Grill and custom-built pizzas from &pizza.
There are a lot of flavors to find from beyond DC as well; Matsutake Sushi (Japanese), the Lebanese Taverna (Lebanese), Il Viaggio (Italian), Reservoir (French), Page (Southern cuisine) and Wow Bao (Chinese) are all highly revered by DCA passengers.
Look around the airport art program
The arts program at DCA Airport includes many site-specific murals and paintings worked into the architecture of the building to bring a ton of color and activity into the different concourses and terminal areas.
These permanent pieces are also supplemented by rotating displays of work relating to the DC area. The program includes occasional live performances by musicians and dancers, too; you can inquire if any are on while you're at the airport by asking at the passenger information booths.
Get the comfort of an airport lounge
American, Delta and United Airlines all have lounges at Ronald Reagan Airport, with access typically reserved for priority ticket holders and club members. However, they all offer day memberships that grant access to anyone.
The lounges offer a comfortable member's area that’s usually much quieter than the public areas. Free snacks and drinks are also included, along with benefits like newspapers, TV, WiFi, business services and travel booking assistance.
If you're traveling at a busy time or have a long layover or flight delay, the added comfort and free benefits of the lounges can make your time at Washington Airport that little bit easier.
See the exhibit hall
The exhibit hall is located between Terminals A and B and displays artefacts from a collection documenting the history of the airport. The hall tells the story through museum-style displays with models, videos, photography and other memorabilia.
It also looks back to the use of the land before the airport was built. The historic Abingdon Plantation shares land with the airport and the Exhibit Hall displays a range of items preserved from plantation life on it.
Top things to do near Washington Reagan Airport
Smithsonian Air and Space
Housing the largest collection of air and space craft in the world, the Smithsonian National Air and Space Museum is just four miles (6.4 kilometers) from Reagan Airport.
There are icons like the Apollo 11 command module, the Bell X-1 that broke the sound barrier and the Wright Brothers' plane, but there's much more to it than just displays of craft.
The whole history of aviation is covered through a range of media including IMAX films, artefacts and exhibits and even subjects like geology, geophysics and planetary sciences are explored in how they relate to space flight and technology like GPS.
Sat nav instructions: 600 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC 20560
At the heart of the city four miles (6.4 kilometers) from Reagan Airport, the National Mall is a vast green space full of monuments and museums that attract over 25 million visitors every year.
Playing host to political protests, music concerts and Presidential inaugurations, the Mall was originally envisioned as a grand central avenue by city planners, but evolved over time into parkland.
Just a few of the famous attractions around the Mall include the US Capitol Building, the Lincoln Memorial, the Washington Monument, numerous Smithsonian Institute museums, national war memorials and art galleries.
The park itself is a great place to spend a day in fine weather, with various landscaped gardens and pools, including the famous reflecting pool, creating an unrivalled city park atmosphere.
Sat nav instructions: National Mall, Washington, DC 20565
An unusual, highly interactive and hugely popular attraction in DC, the Newseum charts the history of printed communication from the earliest printing presses to the digital age.
Located five miles (eight kilometers) from Reagan National Airport, there are 15 theaters and 15 galleries of exhibits throughout the building. It includes sections of the Berlin Wall, front pages from over 80 newspapers around the world, explorations of the First Amendment, Pulitzer Prize-winning photographs and the mass media forms of radio, TV and Internet to make every space as engaging and brilliantly delivered as the last.
Sat nav instructions: 555 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, DC 20001
There's a long list of memorials found in DC, with many found around the National Mall about four miles (6.4 kilometers) from Ronald Reagan Airport. The Lincoln Memorial is perhaps the most iconic of all, though, sat proudly at one end overlooking the reflecting pool.
The memorial building is full of detail, designed in the style of a Greek temple and adorned with features like the 36 Doric columns, representing the 36 states in the Union during Lincoln's time. The interior is made up of beautiful bronze and marble and, of course, the remarkable statue of Lincoln sat atop the steps. He has an awe-inspiringly calm presence in the grand memorial building.
Sat nav instructions: Lincoln Memorial, Washington, DC 20037
National Gallery of Art
Displayed in a beautiful building on the National Mall, the National Gallery of Art depicts the history of Western Art from the middle ages to the present day.
Including paintings, prints, decorative arts, photography and a six-acre (2.4-hectare) sculpture garden, some of the gems of the collection include works from the Italian Renaissance, sculptural works by Rodin and Degas and a broad collection of modern art.
You can rush around and see some highlights in an hour, but to really absorb everything on display and, indeed, the architecture of the building itself, allow yourself a whole day if you can.
Sat nav instructions: 6th and Constitution Ave NW, Washington, DC 20565
US Holocaust Memorial Museum
Documenting the Holocaust in remarkable detail, the US Holocaust Memorial Museum collection includes 80,000 photographs, 13,000 artefacts, 1,000 hours of film footage, 84,000 library items and 49 million archive documents.
Located four miles (6.4 kilometers) from Ronald Reagan Airport, the Museum experience is almost overwhelmingly detailed with a lot of poignant exhibits on display. Providing a powerful telling of the Holocaust story, it has a deep impact on many visitors; you cannot help but leave feeling introspective and deeply-moved.
Sat nav instructions: 100 Raoul Wallenberg Pl SW, Washington, DC 20024
U Street Corridor
The U Street Corridor is the liveliest district in DC, packed with shops, galleries, clubs, music venues and restaurants; it’s about six miles (9.6 kilometers) from Ronald Reagan Airport.
It’s a key feature of the city music scene that’s famed for venues like the Lincoln Theatre, Howard Theatre, Bohemian Caverns, 9:30 Club, Black Cat and the U Street Music Hall, so it’s no surprise that the area hosts events like the Funk Parade festival every year.
U Street is also a hub for community arts, with much of the neighborhood decorated in colorful graffiti murals. The Corridor represents much of the cultural and creative heartbeat of the city.
Sat nav instructions: U Street NW, Washington, DC 20009
Vietnam Veterans Memorial
There are many war memorials in Washington, such as the World War II and the Korean War instalments, but perhaps the best-known is the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.
Covering two acres (0.8 hectares), the memorial consists of the famous wall listing the servicemen who died in the war, as well as two large bronze statues; one of servicemen and the other depicting nurses with an injured soldier to commemorate the role women played in the war.
The simplicity of the wall nevertheless creates a somber atmosphere and the many flowers, mementos and messages left there are telling reminders of just how recent it was as a tragedy.
Sat nav instructions: Vietnam Veterans Memorial, Washington, DC 20245
John F Kennedy Center for the Performing Arts
Both a memorial to the 35th President of the United States and a thriving arts venue, the Kennedy Center hosts theater, ballet, dance, classical, opera and jazz and folk music concerts throughout the year.
Closely partnered with affiliates like the National Symphony Orchestra, Washington National Opera and Washington Ballet, the Center has launched over 200 new productions since it was opened in 1971.
The beautifully maintained building, excellent staff and perfect acoustics all deliver exactly what you'd expect from the capital city's premier arts venue. It’s located only five miles (eight kilometers) from Ronald Reagan National Airport.
Sat nav instructions: 2700 F St NW, Washington, DC 20566
There are three terminal buildings at Ronald Reagan Washington Airport, lettered A, B and C. The airlines operating at the airport are each assigned to one terminal for their arrivals and departures, so as long as you know your airline, it's quite easy to find your way around.
A 24-hour free shuttle bus service runs between the terminals and parking garages, so even if you do lose your way, you can be at another terminal within a few minutes.
Travelers Aid operates at the airport; you can find the volunteers working at the information desks there to help you with your inquiries.
The airport has excellent access for disabled passengers, but please contact your airline in advance if you need to reserve a wheelchair. For any other advance inquiries, you can contact Ronald Reagan Airport customer services on (+1) 703-417-8000.
|Delta Air Lines||TB|
|Sun Country Airlines||TA|
How to get to Washington Reagan Airport
The easiest way to reach DCA Airport by road is from the I-395 from the city center or the I-495 loop road around the city, both of which connect with US Route 1 passing the airport.
If you’re coming from outside the area, the I-95 connects DC to the major east-coast cities both north and south, connecting to the airport via the I-495, the I-395 from the south or DC 295 from the north.
If you’re driving in from the west from somewhere like Pittsburgh or West Virginia, the I-66 and I-270 both connect to the I-495 loop road.
WMATA runs a bus network across Washington DC, with a stop at the Ronald Reagan Airport terminals connecting it with the city center.
Greyhound buses run to Washington DC from across the country, terminating at Union Station in the city center. You can catch a bus from there direct to the airport on the Metrobus system.
The WMATA Metrorail network runs across the city, reaching as far as Virginia and Maryland; there are two options to get to the airport. Yellow Line trains run from the north side of the city center at Mt Vernon Square to Huntington, south of the airport, while the Blue Line runs from Largo to the east of DC down to Springfield just south of it. Both call through the city center, but the yellow line is the fastest route to the airport at just under 10 minutes.
Amtrak calls at Union Station in Alexandria, which is also on the Metro network. Take the Red Line to Gallery Place/Chinatown and transfer to the Yellow Line south to the airport; this is usually a 20-minute journey.
Try to book flights at quiet times
The busiest times at the DCA Airport check-in lines are early morning and mid-afternoon on weekdays, so try to book your flights for midday, evening or weekends to get through the airport quicker.
Slow progress at busy times
When the airport is packed with passengers, the WiFi can slow down significantly, as can the various security checks. Give yourself at least two hours to get through whenever you travel. If WiFi access is important to you, consider a day membership for one of the airline lounges; they have separate WiFi services to the main terminals.
Book parking in advance
The on-site airport parking at DCA can fill up quickly, particularly the economy lot (and not just during peak seasons), so be sure to book your parking space on- or off-site to avoid paying premium rates or struggling to find a space at all when you get there.
Interfaith chapel prayer times
The airport chapel is more than just a quiet space; it has regularly scheduled, clergy-led worship and prayer times for Protestant, Catholic, Jewish and Muslim passengers. You can find details of the prayer times on the Ronald Reagan Airport Website.
Airside closes overnight
Ronald Reagan Airport is open 24 hours, but post-security airside shuts completely at around 11pm and concessions typically close at 10pm. If you intend to sleep at the airport during a layover, make sure you stock up on some snacks during the day.
Many local hotels offer free shuttle bus services, so it is easy to stay in a hotel nearby and get back to the airport for free and on time in the morning. If you do have to sleep at the airport, the heating vents near the windows are recommended as the best spot.
Washington Reagan Airport FAQs
Where is DCA Airport?
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, also known by its IATA code, DCA, is based close to the center of Washington DC in Virginia on the east coast of the USA. Located just a few miles south of Downtown across the Potomac River, DCA Airport is built on land reclaimed from the river and sits on the state line between Virginia and Columbia. It is close to the I-395, The Pentagon and Arlington National Cemetery in the DC 20001 ZIP code area.
How far is Ronald Reagan Airport from Washington DC?
By the most direct route, Reagan National Airport is just under five miles (eight kilometers) from the Downtown area of the city. Taking the George Washington Memorial Parkway from the airport, going across the Potomac on the 14th Street bridge and through the National Mall, it is a 15-minute drive in good traffic. Metrorail provides one of the fastest routes, with the city center just four stops and a few minutes away from the airport station located in Terminals B and C.
What does DCA Airport stand for?
All airports are given a three-letter code by IATA to allow for uniform international abbreviations. Before it was named after the 40th President, the code DCA was applied to Washington National Airport, borrowing the ‘DC’ from the state name, so DCA literally stands for District of Columbia Airport, even though it sits just over the state line in Virginia.
Can you smoke at Reagan Airport?
No, there is no smoking anywhere indoors at DCA Airport, but you can find smoking areas pre-security outside the terminal buildings.
Can Uber pick up at Reagan Airport?
Yes, Uber and similar services like Lyft can pick up passengers in the designated pick-up areas outside the arrivals level of each terminal building.
Can you get to Reagan Airport by Metro?
Yes, Metrorail has a station in the airport, which is on the Yellow Line running from the north to the south of the city via the city center.
Can you sleep in Reagan Airport?
Yes, DCA Airport is open 24 hours, but only on the pre-security landside and usually no concessions stay open after 10pm; airside closes completely after 11pm. There are various hotels near the airport that offer free shuttle buses to and from the terminals.
Does Reagan Airport have free WiFi?
Yes, free WiFi is available throughout the terminals and concourses at the airport, but it is susceptible to slowing down when it is very busy.
Does Reagan Airport have international flights?
DCA has a small number of international flights, but primarily focuses on business services. The current strategy for the Washington DC airport system is to shift most international flights to Washington-Dulles and keep Ronald Reagan Airport allocated for domestic routes.
Does DCA Airport have lockers?
No, currently there are no luggage storage facilities at the airport.
How big is DCA Airport?
With over 20 million passengers flying through every year, Ronald Reagan National Airport is amongst the 60 busiest airports in the world and the 25 busiest in the USA, so it's a large airport, but modest compared to vast international airports like Atlanta, LAX or Denver.