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Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

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Title: Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport  
Author: World Heritage Encyclopedia
Language: English
Subject: Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky International Airport, American Airlines, List of airlines of the United States, Arlington County, Virginia, Tampa International Airport
Collection: 1941 Establishments in Washington, D.C., Airfields of the United States Army Air Forces Air Transport Command in North America, Airfields of the United States Army Air Forces in Virginia, Airports Established in 1941, Airports in Virginia, Airports in Washington, D.C., Buildings and Monuments Honoring American Presidents, Buildings and Structures on the National Register of Historic Places in Virginia, National Register of Historic Places in Arlington County, Virginia, Transportation in Arlington County, Virginia
Publisher: World Heritage Encyclopedia

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport

Ronald Reagan Washington Airport
WMO: 72405
Airport type Public
Owner Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
Operator Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
Serves Washington Metropolitan Area
Location Arlington County, Virginia
Hub for American Airlines
Elevation AMSL 15 ft / 5 m
A map with a grid overlay showing the terminals runways and other structures of the airport.
FAA airport diagram
DCA is located in District of Columbia
Location in immediate Washington, D.C. area
Direction Length Surface
ft m
1/19 7,169 2,185 Asphalt
4/22 4,911 1,497 Asphalt
15/33 5,204 1,586 Asphalt
Source: Federal Aviation Administration[1]
Washington National Airport Terminal
and South Hangar Line
Location Thomas Ave.
Arlington, Virginia
Area 18.1 acres (7.3 ha)
Built 1941 (1941), 75 years ago
Architectural style Moderne
Governing body Federal
NRHP Reference # 97001111[2]
VLR # 000-0045
Significant dates
Added to NRHP September 12, 1997
Designated VLR June 27, 1995[3]

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (ICAO: KDCAFAA LID: DCA) is a major airport 3 miles (5 km) south of downtown Washington, D.C., in Arlington County, Virginia, United States.[1] It is the nearest commercial airport to the capital and serves the Baltimore-Washington Metropolitan Area. For decades it was called Washington National Airport; it was renamed in 1998 to honor President Ronald Reagan.[4][5] The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) operates the airport with close oversight by the federal government due to its proximity to the national capital.

Reagan National is a hub for American Airlines, which is Reagan National's largest carrier. American Airlines also has near-hourly air shuttle flights to New York LaGuardia Airport and Logan International Airport in Boston. Delta Air Lines also operates near-hourly air shuttle flights to New York LaGuardia Airport, which are all operated by Delta Shuttle.

Other than 40 slot exemptions, flights into and out of DCA are not allowed to exceed 1,250 statute miles (2,000 km) in any direction nonstop, in an effort to send air traffic to the larger but more distant Washington Dulles International Airport. In 2010 the airport served about 18.1 million passengers.[6]

Reagan National only has United States immigration and customs facilities for corporate jet traffic; the only international flights allowed to land at DCA are those from airports with U.S. Customs and Border Protection preclearance facilities. Other international passenger flights must use Washington Dulles International Airport or Baltimore/Washington International Airport.


  • History 1
    • Expansion 1.1
    • Transfer of control and renaming 1.2
    • Construction of current terminal buildings 1.3
  • Operations 2
    • Tightened security and safety concerns 2.1
    • The "River Visual" approach 2.2
    • Perimeter restrictions 2.3
  • Terminals 3
    • Terminal A 3.1
    • Terminals B and C 3.2
    • North concourse and Secure National Hall project 3.3
  • Airlines and destinations 4
  • Traffic and statistics 5
    • Busiest domestic routes 5.1
    • Largest carriers 5.2
    • Annual traffic 5.3
      • Passengers 5.3.1
      • Operations 5.3.2
      • Cargo 5.3.3
  • Ground transportation 6
    • Rail 6.1
    • Bus 6.2
    • Taxi 6.3
    • Airport Shuttle 6.4
    • Roads 6.5
    • Pedestrian and bicycle 6.6
  • Abingdon Plantation Historical Site 7
  • Incidents and accidents 8
    • Eastern Air Lines Flight 537 8.1
    • Capital Airlines Flight 500 8.2
    • Air Florida Flight 90 8.3
  • See also 9
  • References 10
  • External links 11


Terminal building in July 1941, shortly after it opened. Photograph by Jack Delano.
Terminal building from the tarmac in July, 1941
The airport in 1970
A view of the airport from the Washington Metro

Near the present site of the Pentagon, Hoover Field was the first airport that had a major terminal, which opened its doors in 1926.[7] The facility's single runway was crossed by a street; guards had to stop automobile traffic during takeoffs and landings. The following year Washington Airport, another privately operated field, began service next door.[8] In 1930 the Depression caused the two terminals to merge to form Washington–Hoover Airport. Bordered on the east by U.S. Route 1, with its accompanying high-tension electrical wires, and obstructed by a high smokestack on one approach and a dump nearby, the field was inadequate.[9]

Although the need for a better airport was acknowledged in 37 studies conducted between 1926 and 1938,[8] there was a statutory prohibition against federal development of airports. When Congress lifted the prohibition in 1938, President Franklin D. Roosevelt made a recess appropriation of $15 million to build National Airport by reallocating funds from other purposes. Construction of Washington National Airport began in 1940–41 by a company led by John McShain. Congress challenged the legality of FDR's recess appropriation, but construction of the new airport continued.[10]

The airport is southwest of Washington, D.C. The western part of the airport was once within a large Virginia plantation, a remnant of which is now inside a historic site located near the airport's Metro-rail station (see Abingdon (plantation) for history). The eastern part of the airport was constructed in the District of Columbia on and near mudflats that were within the tidal Potomac River near Gravelly Point, about 4 statute miles (6.4 km) from the United States Capitol, using landfill dredged from the Potomac River.

The airport opened June 16, 1941.[8] In 1945 Congress passed a law that established the airport was legally within Virginia but under the jurisdiction of the federal government.[8] On July 1 of that year, the airport's weather station became the official point for the weather observations and records by the National Weather Service, which is located in Washington, D.C.[11]

The April 1957 Official Airline Guide shows 316 weekday departures: 95 Eastern (plus six a week to/from South America), 77 American, 61 Capital, 23 National, 17 TWA, 10 United, 10 Delta, 6 Allegheny, 6 Braniff, 5 Piedmont, 3 Northeast and 3 Northwest. Jet flights began in April 1966 (727-200s were not allowed until 1970).[12]

Service to the airport's Metro station began in 1977.[13]

The Washington National Airport Terminal and South Hangar Line were listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1997.[2][14]


The runway layout has changed little, except for the 1956 closure of a fourth, east–west runway now used for taxiing and aircraft parking. The terminal building was supplemented by the North Terminal in 1958; the two were connected in 1961. A United Airlines holdroom complex was built in 1965, and a facility for American Airlines was completed in 1968. A commuter terminal was constructed in 1970.[8] In March 2012 the main 1/19 runway was lengthened 300 ft to add FAA compliant runway safety areas.[15]

Despite the expansions, efforts have been made to restrict the growth of the airport. The advent of jet aircraft as well as traffic growth led Congress to pass the Washington Airport Act of 1950, which resulted in the opening of Dulles Airport in 1962. Concerns about aviation noise led to noise restrictions even before jet service began in 1966. To reduce congestion and drive traffic to alternative airports, the FAA imposed landing slot and perimeter restrictions on National and four other high-density airports in 1969.[16]

Transfer of control and renaming

In 1984 Secretary of Transportation Elizabeth Dole appointed a commission to study transferring National and Dulles Airports from the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) to a local entity, which could use airport revenues to finance improvements.[10] The commission recommended that one multi-state agency administer both Dulles and National, over the alternative of having Virginia control Dulles and the District of Columbia control National.[10] In 1987 Congress, through legislation,[17] transferred control of the airport from the FAA to the new Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority with the Authority's decisions being subject to a Congressional review panel. The constitutionality of the review panel was later challenged in the Supreme Court and the Court has twice declared the oversight panel unconstitutional.[18] Even after this decision, however, Congress has continued to intervene in the management of the airports.[19]

On February 6, 1998, President

  • Official website
  • Airport Map Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. June 2011
  • FAA Airport Diagram (PDF), effective June 23, 2016
  • FAA Terminal Procedures for DCA, effective June 23, 2016
  • Resources for this airport:
    • AirNav airport information for KDCA
    • ASN accident history for DCA
    • FlightAware airport information and live flight tracker
    • NOAA/NWS latest weather observations
    • SkyVector aeronautical chart for KDCA
    • FAA current DCA delay information

Media related to at Wikimedia Commons

External links

  1. ^ a b FAA Airport Master Record for DCA (Form 5010 PDF)
  2. ^ a b "National Register Information System". National Register of Historic Places.  
  3. ^ "Virginia Landmarks Register". Virginia Department of Historic Resources. Retrieved 05-12-2013. 
  4. ^ Kellman, Laurie (February 5, 1998). "Clinton to sign bill renaming National Airport for Reagan". The Day (New London, Connecticut). Associated Press. p. A3. 
  5. ^ "What’s in an eponym? Celebrity airports - could there be a commercial benefit in naming?". Centre for Aviation. 
  6. ^ "Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) Air Traffic Statistics". Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. 2011. Retrieved June 7, 2011. 
  7. ^ "Arlington's Flying Field is Dedicated". The Washington Post. July 17, 1926. p. 20. 
  8. ^ a b c d e "History". Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-24. 
  9. ^ "McCarran Sees Death Peril in Local Airport: Says Major Disaster Has Been Prevented Here Only by Luck.". The Washington Post. 13 May 1938. 
  10. ^ a b c Feaver, Douglas B. (July 16, 1997). "Years of Deal-Making Enabled Change From 'Disgrace' to Showplace". Washington Post. Retrieved 2009-12-20. 
  11. ^
  12. ^ Aviation Daily 26 Feb 1971 p314
  13. ^ "History of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport". Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. 2011. Retrieved 2011-03-24. 
  14. ^ Carol Hooper, Elizabeth Lampl, and Judith Robinson (April 1994). "National Register of Historic Places Inventory/Nomination: Washington National Airport Terminal and South Hangar Line" (PDF).  and Accompanying photo
  15. ^ Runway Projects. Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  16. ^ "Code of Federal Regulations, Volume 2, Part 93, Subpart K" (PDF). U.S. Government Printing Office. 24 October 1970. Retrieved 25 July 2014. 
  17. ^ "Metropolitan Washington Airports Act of 1986", Public Law No. 99-500, Section 6001
  19. ^ This can be seen by Congress's continued use of legislation to limit the number of flights at National Airport, as well as expanding the perimeter and number of exemptions for flights outside that limit.
  20. ^ "Public Law No. 105-154, "To rename the Washington National Airport located in the District of Columbia and Virginia as the `Ronald Reagan National Airport'"". January 27, 1998. 
  21. ^ "It's Reagan Airport now". McCook Daily Gazette (Archived by Google News Archive). Associated Press. February 7, 1998. 
  22. ^ "Bill renames Washington National Airport after Reagan". Spokesman-Review (Spokane, Washington). Associated Press. January 28, 1988. p. A3. 
  23. ^ Alvarez, Lizette (February 4, 1998). "G.O.P. Tries to Wrap Up an Airport for Reagan". The New York Times. 
  24. ^ a b "Congress Votes for Reagan Airport". Washington Post. February 5, 1998. p. A01. Retrieved 2009-12-20. 
  25. ^ "Hansen in road sign rage over lack of Reagan airport markers". Deseret News. June 7, 1998. 
  26. ^ Zachary M. Shrag (2006). The Great Society Subway: A History of the Washington Metro. JHU Press. p. 258. 
  27. ^ "Why you should NEVER fly into Washington National Airport". JetHead's Blog. 2011-12-24. Retrieved 2012-05-23. 
  28. ^ a b "Security-Restricted Airspace". Federal Aviation Administration. December 13, 2005. Retrieved July 15, 2009. 
  29. ^ "eCFR-Code of Federal Regulations".  
  30. ^ a b "Secretary Mineta Announces Beginning of Security Screening Program; BWI First to Deploy Federal Screening Personnel".  
  31. ^ "TSA Suspends 30-Minute Rule for Reagan National Airport".  
  32. ^ "TSA Opens Ronald Reagan Washington Airport to General Aviation Operations".  
  33. ^ "Restoration of General Aviation at Washington Reagan National Airport".  
  34. ^ Uncontrolled airport" situation at Washington National""". eTurboNews. Retrieved 25 March 2011. 
  35. ^ "Aircraft Noise Procedures and Guidelines at Reagan National Airport".  
  36. ^ Garrison, Kevin (1993). Congested Airspace: A Pilot's Guide (Command Decisions Ser.). Riverside, Conn: Belvoir Publications. p. 157.  
  37. ^ Sipress, Alan (November 11, 1999). "More Flights Unlikely Now At National". The Washington Post. p. B1. 
  38. ^ Sipress, Alan (March 5, 1999). "3 Senators Gain From Airport Bill". The Washington Post ( 
  39. ^
  40. ^
  41. ^ DOT Selects Four Cities to Receive New Nonstop Service to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport | Department of Transportation. (2012-05-14). Retrieved on 2013-08-16.
  42. ^ "History of Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport".  
  43. ^ Aratani, Lori (August 27, 2013). "Reagan National’s Terminal A is Getting $37M Facelift".  
  44. ^ MWAA Terminal A Renovation
  45. ^ http://www.mwaa.coms/default/files/archive/ Briefing on Reagan National and Dulles International Capital Construction Program, April 2015, accessed October 19, 2015
  46. ^ "DCA Terminal Map".  
  47. ^
  48. ^
  49. ^ "Air Traffic Statistics: December 2013" (PDF). Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Retrieved 20 February 2014. 
  50. ^ a b c <"Air Traffic Statistics - June 2015" (PDF). Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA). Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  51. ^ "Air Traffic Statistics - June 2015" (PDF). Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA). Retrieved 13 September 2015. 
  52. ^ a b c Reagan Air Traffic Statistics, accessed October 19, 2015
  53. ^ Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (2011). "Directions to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA)". Reagan National Airport. Retrieved 2011-10-21. 
  54. ^ "Washington National Airport Pedestrian/Bike Access" (PDF). Crystal City Business Improvement District. Retrieved 4 June 2014. 
  55. ^ Templeman, Eleanor Lee (1959). Arlington Heritage: Vignettes of a Virginia County. New York: Avenel Books, a division of Crown Publishers, Inc. pp. 12–13. 
  56. ^ a b  
  57. ^ Sipress, Alan (1998-11-11). "At National Airport, A Historic Destination".  
  58. ^ "Parking Map". DCA Terminal Map. Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. June 2011. Retrieved 2011-06-16. 
  59. ^ Cressey, Pamela J. (2002). Walk and Bike the Alexandria Heritage Trail: A Guide to Exploring a Virginia Town's Hidden Past. Capital Books. pp. 16–17.  
  60. ^ Coordinates of Abingdon Plantation historical site:
  61. ^ "ASN Aircraft accident Douglas C-54". Retrieved 19 October 2015. 
  62. ^ "Accident report for DC-3 NC-25691 on December 12, 1949". Civil Aeronautics Board Accident Report. Retrieved 2015-07-02. 
  63. ^ "We're Going Down, Larry".  


See also

On the afternoon of January 13, 1982,[63] following a period of exceptionally cold weather and a morning of blizzard conditions, Air Florida Flight 90 crashed after waiting forty-nine minutes on a taxiway and taking off with ice and snow on the wings. The Boeing 737 aircraft failed to gain altitude. Less than 1 statute mile (1.6 km) from the end of the runway, the airplane struck the 14th Street Bridge complex, shearing the tops off vehicles stuck in traffic before plunging through the 1-inch-thick (25 mm) ice covering the Potomac River. Rescue responses were greatly hampered by the weather and traffic. Due to heroic action on the part of motorists, a United States Park Service police helicopter crew, and one of the plane's passengers who later perished, five occupants of the downed plane survived. The other 74 people who had been aboard died, as well as four occupants of vehicles on the bridge. President Reagan cited motorist Lenny Skutnik in his State of the Union Address a few weeks later.

Air Florida Flight 90

On December 12, 1949, Capital Airlines Flight 500, a Douglas DC-3, stalled and crashed into the Potomac River while on approach to National. Six of the 23 passengers and crew on board were killed.[62]

Capital Airlines Flight 500

Bridoux's plane had taken off from National just 10 minutes earlier and was in contact with the tower during a brief test flight. The Eastern Air Lines DC-4 was on approach from the south when the nimble and much faster P-38 banked and plunged right into the passenger plane. Both aircraft dropped into the Potomac River.

On November 1, 1949, a mid-air collision between an Eastern Air Lines passenger aircraft and a P-38 Lightning military plane took the lives of 55 passengers. The sole survivor was the Bolivian ace pilot of the fighter plane, Erick Rios Bridoux.[61]

Eastern Air Lines Flight 537

Air Florida Flight 90 wreckage being removed from the Potomac River (January 19, 1982)

Incidents and accidents

A part of the airport is located on the former site of the 18th and 19th century Abingdon plantation, which was associated with the prominent Alexander, Custis, Stuart, and Hunter families.[55] In 1998, MWAA opened a historical display around the restored remnants of two Abingdon buildings and placed artifacts collected from the site in an exhibit hall in Terminal A.[56][57] The Abingdon site is located on a knoll between parking Garage A and Garage B/C, near the south end of the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport Metrorail station.[56][58][59][60]

Abingdon Plantation Historical Site

The airport is accessible by bicycle and foot from the Mt. Vernon Trail, as well as the sidewalk along the Airport Viaduct (State Route 233), which connects the airport grounds to U.S. Route 1. A total of 48 bike parking spots are available across six separate bike racks.[54]

Pedestrian and bicycle

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport is located on the U.S. Route 1 by the Airport Viaduct (State Route 233). Interstate 395 is just north of DCA, and is accessible by the G.W. Parkway and U.S. Route 1.[53] Airport-operated parking garage facilities as well as economy lots are available adjacent to or near the various airport terminals.


Shared-ride shuttle services are available from several providers including SuperShuttle and Supreme Shuttle.

Airport Shuttle

Taxicab services are available at the Ground Transportation area of all terminal buildings. Taxicabs that serve the airport are required to be licensed and are regulated by either Washington, D.C. or Virginia local governments.


Metrobus provides service on weekend mornings before the Metro station opens or during any disruptions to regular Metro service.


The Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport station on the Washington Metro, serving the Yellow and Blue lines, is located on an elevated outdoor platform station adjacent to Terminals B and C. An elevated pedestrian walkway connects the station directly to the concourse levels of Terminals B and C. An underground pedestrian walkway and shuttle services provide access to Terminal A.


Ground transportation

Annual cargo in pounds at Reagan National Airport, 1953 thru 2014[52]
Year Pounds Year Pounds Year Pounds Year Pounds Year Pounds Year Pounds Year Pounds
2010 14,499,823 2000 17,586,066 1990 32,509,219 1980 56,325,260 1970 99,699,244 1960 46,215,207
2009 12,800,858 1999 21,971,410 1989 30,366,244 1979 75,847,600 1969 100,459,572 1959 41,627,600
2008 7,290,740 1998 21,782,789 1988 36,166,493 1978 85,086,800 1968 99,866,380 1958 37,629,200
2007 4,893,162 1997 24,834,167 1987 34,588,361 1977 83,331,949 1967 98,670,923 1957 35,382,800
2006 5,964,248 1996 27,759,073 1986 33,855,834 1976 83,331,530 1966 93,850,459 1956 35,405,200
2005 5,717,535 1995 29,683,109 1985 42,189,330 1975 76,531,913 1965 84,831,196 1955 31,950,800
2014 3,931,310 2004 5,966,901 1994 32,231,886 1984 37,331,864 1974 101,234,081 1964 68,018,156 1954 24,399,200
2013 4,071,926 2003 6,769,285 1993 32,602,728 1983 37,219,349 1973 114,390,883 1963 60,999,925 1953 24,388,400
2012 13,138,554 2002 6,009,252 1992 33,070,877 1982 39,036,625 1972 107,927,022 1962 57,776,894 1952
2011 13,802,787 2001 11,956,328 1991 31,684,130 1981 44,494,833 1971 97,041,854 1961 50,321,765 1951


Annual aircraft operations at Reagan National Airport, 1941 thru 2014[52]
Year Operations Year Operations Year Operations Year Operations Year Operations Year Operations Year Operations Year Operations
2010 271,097 2000 297,879 1990 313,740 1980 352,166 1970 319,449 1960 292,146 1950 148,748
2009 272,146 1999 291,765 1989 311,207 1979 352,904 1969 337,084 1959 309,340 1949 165,033
2008 277,298 1998 297,093 1988 322,403 1978 352,044 1968 346,417 1958 280,842 1948 160,352
2007 275,433 1997 304,636 1987 321,182 1977 345,452 1967 334,630 1957 276,717 1947 159,690
2006 276,419 1996 298,086 1986 319,711 1976 326,083 1966 312,494 1956 257,762 1946 180,690
2005 276,056 1995 304,876 1985 306,354 1975 306,494 1965 309,562 1955 225,914 1945 152,067
2014 283,180 2004 268,576 1994 306,529 1984 337,538 1974 312,216 1964 289,740 1954 202,573 1944 107,315
2013 292,656 2003 250,802 1993 312,346 1983 334,431 1973 339,904 1963 294,797 1953 195,649 1943 93,086
2012 288,176 2002 215,691 1992 301,668 1982 307,377 1972 331,429 1962 280,831 1952 184,460 1942 77,348
2011 281,770 2001 244,008 1991 292,926 1981 337,132 1971 329,972 1961 290,339 1951 186,747 1941 43,060


Annual passenger traffic (enplaned + deplaned) at Reagan National Airport, 1941 thru 2014[52]
Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers Year Passengers
2010 18,118,713 2000 15,888,199 1990 15,805,496 1980 14,540,089 1970 9,768,375 1960 4,725,605 1950 1,629,723
2009 17,577,359 1999 15,185,348 1989 15,385,240 1979 15,134,017 1969 10,247,537 1959 5,005,746 1949 1,386,887
2008 18,028,287 1998 15,970,306 1988 16,014,585 1978 14,176,233 1968 9,968,015 1958 4,533,623 1948 1,186,676
2007 18,679,343 1997 15,907,006 1987 15,703,410 1977 13,258,200 1967 9,383,352 1957 4,463,227 1947 1,140,945
2006 18,550,785 1996 15,226,500 1986 14,544,523 1976 12,336,534 1966 7,919,955 1956 3,964,113 1946 1,230,480
2005 17,847,884 1995 15,506,244 1985 14,690,471 1975 11,369,061 1965 6,951,845 1955 3,634,951 1945 756,537
2014 20,810,387 2004 15,944,542 1994 15,700,825 1984 14,842,922 1974 11,706,028 1964 6,188,292 1954 3,102,875 1944 557,145
2013 20,415,085 2003 14,223,123 1993 16,307,808 1983 14,461,437 1973 11,715,578 1963 5,464,010 1953 2,720,024 1943 360,563
2012 19,655,440 2002 12,881,601 1992 15,593,535 1982 13,321,098 1972 11,121,965 1962 4,837,166 1952 2,492,354 1942 459,396
2011 18,823,094 2001 13,265,387 1991 15,098,697 1981 14,175,058 1971 10,377,308 1961 4,646,154 1951 2,458,717 1941 344,257


Annual traffic

Largest airlines at DCA (June 2015)[51]
Rank Airline Passengers Market Share
1 American Airlines 1,023,937 50.4%
2 Delta Air Lines 291,850 14.4%
3 Southwest Airlines 263,906 13.0%
4 JetBlue 163,584 8.0%
5 United Airlines 162,396 8.0%
6 Alaska Airlines 37,419 1.8%
7 Frontier Airlines 29,494 1.5%
8 Air Canada 25,014 1.2%
9 Virgin America 22,498 1.1%
10 Sun Country Airlines 12,512 0.6%

Largest carriers

Busiest Domestic Routes from DCA (August 2014 – July 2015)[50]
Rank Airport Passengers Carriers
1 Atlanta, Georgia 823,000 Delta, Southwest
2 Boston, Massachusetts 734,000 JetBlue, US Airways
3 Chicago (O'Hare), Illinois 714,000 American, United
4 Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas 460,000 American
5 Miami, Florida 416,000 American
6 Orlando, Florida 382,000 JetBlue, US Airways
7 New York (LaGuardia), New York 369,000 Delta, US Airways
8 Charlotte, North Carolina 323,000 US Airways
9 Tampa, Florida 290,000 JetBlue, Southwest, US Airways
10 Detroit, Michigan 263,000 Delta, US Airways

Busiest domestic routes

In 2013, Reagan National Airport handled 20,415,085 passengers, which was a new record.[49] From April 2014 to March 2015, the airport handled 21,195,775 passengers, which is slightly higher than the aforementioned record.[50] American Airlines, following its merger with US Airways, has the largest share of traffic at the airport, accounting for 50.4% of the market share as of June 2015. Delta Air Lines, the second largest, accounts for 14.0%, with Southwest in third at 13.0%.[50]

Destination map

Traffic and statistics

Airlines Destinations Terminal[46]
Air Canada Express Montréal–Trudeau, Ottawa, Toronto–Pearson A
Alaska Airlines Los Angeles, Portland (OR), Seattle/Tacoma B
American Airlines Charlotte, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Fort Lauderdale, Las Vegas, Los Angeles, Miami, New Orleans, New York-JFK, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Providence, Tampa
Seasonal: Bermuda, Detroit, Fort Myers, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Nassau, Portland (ME), West Palm Beach
B (arr.), C (dep.)
American Eagle Akron/Canton, Albany (NY), Atlanta (begins January 5, 2016),[47] Bangor, Birmingham (AL), Buffalo, Burlington (VT), Charleston (SC), Charleston (WV), Charlotte, Chattanooga, Cincinnati, Columbia (SC), Dayton, Detroit, Des Moines, Fort Myers, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Hartford, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Jackson (MS), Jacksonville (FL), Kansas City, Knoxville, Louisville, Manchester (NH), Memphis, Nashville, New Orleans, Norfolk, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Portland (ME), Providence, Raleigh/Durham, Rochester (NY), Sarasota, St. Louis, Syracuse, Toronto–Pearson, West Palm Beach, White Plains
Seasonal: Asheville, Augusta (GA), Fort Lauderdale, Key West, Martha's Vineyard, Nantucket, Nassau, Orlando, Tampa
B (arr.), C (dep.)
American Airlines Shuttle Boston, New York-LaGuardia B (arr.), C (dep.)
Delta Air Lines Atlanta, Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City
Seasonal: New York-JFK
Delta Connection Cincinnati, Detroit, Lexington, Madison, New York–JFK, Omaha
Seasonal: Minneapolis/St. Paul
Delta Shuttle New York–LaGuardia B
Frontier Airlines Denver A
JetBlue Airways Boston, Charleston (SC), Fort Lauderdale, Fort Myers, Hartford, Jacksonville (FL), Nassau, Orlando, San Juan, Tampa, West Palm Beach
Seasonal: Nantucket
Southwest Airlines Atlanta, Austin, Chicago-Midway, Columbus (OH), Dallas–Love, Fort Lauderdale,Houston–Hobby, Indianapolis, Kansas City, Milwaukee, Nashville, New Orleans, Omaha (begins March 10, 2016),[48] Orlando, St. Louis, Tampa
Seasonal: Fort Myers (begins January 9, 2016)
Sun Country Airlines Minneapolis/St. Paul A
United Airlines Houston–Intercontinental, San Francisco B
United Express Chicago–O'Hare, Cleveland, Newark B
Virgin America Dallas–Love, San Francisco C

Airlines and destinations

MWAA will build two new screening areas that will place all of National Hall (and the concourses connected by National Hall, including the new regional jet terminal) after security. This will allow passengers to easily connect between all the existing and future gates of Terminal B and C, and to access many more concessions after passing through security.[45]

MWAA is also planning a new "Secure National Hall" project. Currently, National Hall is before security, with a separate security screening area for each of the three concourses. Since Terminal B and C were designed pre-9/11, the security screening areas are cramped and congested. Further, passengers cannot access the concessions and restaurants of National Hall after they go through security, and going from one concourse to another requires re-screening, or, in certain situations, taking a bus between concourses.

MWAA has announced a new north concourse to Terminal B and C to accommodate 14 new regional jet gates, connected to the new concourse by jetways. This will replace a regional aircraft operation conducted on the ramp, outside.

North concourse and Secure National Hall project

The corridor/hall connecting the three concourses of Terminal B and C is known as National Hall.

Terminals B and C are the airport's newest and largest terminals; the terminals opened in 1997 and replaced a collection of airline-specific terminals built during the 1960s. The new terminals were designed by architect Cesar Pelli and house 35 gates. Both terminals share the same structure and are directly connected to the WMATA airport station via indoor pedestrian bridges. Terminal B and C have three concourses, Terminal B with gates 10-22, Terminal B/C gates 23-34 and Terminal C gates 35-45. Terminal B houses Alaska Airlines, American Airlines arrivals, Delta, JetBlue, and United. Terminal C houses American Airlines departures and Virgin America.

Terminals B and C

Terminal A opened in 1941 and was expanded in 1955 to accommodate more passengers and airlines. The exterior of this terminal has had its original architecture restored, with the airside facade restored in 2004 and the landside facade restored in 2008.[42] The terminal is currently undergoing a $37 million renovation that will modernize the airport’s look by bringing in brighter lighting, more windows and new flooring. The project was completed in 2014 along with a new expanded TSA security checkpoint.[43] In 2014, additional renovations were announced including new upgraded concessions and further structural improvements, the project is expected to be completed by 2015.[44] Terminal A contains gates 1-9. Terminal A houses Air Canada Express, Delta Shuttle, Frontier Airlines, Southwest Airlines, and Sun Country Airlines.

Terminal A

National Hall connecting Terminals B and C


A view of the airport from the north, showing terminals B and C, taken from Gravelly Point, a popular park for watching planes take off or land
This view of the airport from the north, showing terminals B and C, was taken from Gravelly Point, a popular park for watching planes take off or land

In May 2012, the U.S. Department of Transportation granted new perimeter exemptions for: Alaska Airlines for service to Portland, Ore.; JetBlue Airways for San Juan, Puerto Rico; Southwest Airlines for Austin, Texas; and Virgin America for San Francisco. Additionally, "the new law also allowed four large carriers already serving Reagan National to exchange a total of eight slots for flights within the perimeter for an equal number of slot exemptions to permit nonstop flights beyond the perimeter. As a result, American Airlines traded one round-trip flight to Dallas–Fort Worth for a flight to Los Angeles, Delta Air Lines traded one round-trip flight to New York–LaGuardia Airport for a flight to Salt Lake City, United Airlines traded one round-trip flight to Chicago–O'Hare for a flight to San Francisco, and US Airways traded one round-trip flight to Dallas–Fort Worth for a flight to San Diego."[41]

Originally the airport had no perimeter rule; from 1954 to 1960, airlines scheduled nonstop flights to California on piston-engine airliners.[39][40] Scheduled jet airliners were not allowed at all until April 1966; the perimeter rule arrived with them, and apparently applied only to them. The initial perimeter was 650 statute miles (1,050 km), except that airports under 1,000 statute miles (1,600 km) that had scheduled nonstops in 1965 were allowed to retain them. This meant Minneapolis–Saint Paul was allowed nonstop jet flights but Kansas City, New Orleans, and Fort Lauderdale were not. In 1981 the perimeter became a flat 1,000 statute miles (1,600 km); it expanded to 1,250 statute miles (2,010 km), enough to encompass Houston, in 1986–87.

In 1999, Senator John McCain of Arizona introduced legislation to remove the 1,250-statute-mile (2,010 km) restriction,[37] infuriating some local residents concerned about noise and traffic from increased service by larger, long-haul aircraft. McCain argued that the move would improve competition, while some congressional staffers thought he was supporting the interests of Phoenix, Arizona-based America West Airlines (AWA).[38] In the end the restriction was not lifted, but the FAA was permitted to add additional exemptions, which went not to AWA but to competitor Alaska Airlines. America West (now US Airways, which is itself now a part of American Airlines Group) later gained additional exemptions for non-stop flights to Phoenix in 2004.

Airlines Destinations
Alaska Airlines 8 slots operating as 2x Seattle/Tacoma, 1x Los Angeles, 1x Portland (OR)
American Airlines 12 slots operating as 2x Los Angeles, 3x Phoenix, 1x Las Vegas
Delta Air Lines 4 slots operating as 2x Salt Lake City
Frontier Airlines 6 slots operating as 3x Denver
JetBlue Airways 2 slots operating as 1x San Juan
Southwest Airlines 2 slots operating as 1x Austin
United Airlines 4 slots operating as 1x Denver, 1x San Francisco
Virgin America 2 slots operating as 1x San Francisco

Reagan National Airport is subject to a federally mandated perimeter limitation and may not accommodate nonstop flights to or from cities beyond 1,250-statute-mile (2,010 km), with limited exceptions. The U.S. Department of Transportation has issued "beyond-perimeter slot exemptions" which allow specified carriers to operate 20 daily round-trip flights to cities outside the perimeter. The current exemptions are:

Perimeter restrictions

When visibility and ceiling are below minimums for the River Visual and southerly winds restrict northbound runway operations, aircraft fly an offset localizer or GPS approach to Runway 19, again involving a final turn moments before touchdown, or they fly a VOR or GPS approach to either of the shorter Runways 15 and 22, which are marginally long enough for airline jets.

Reagan National Airport has some of the strictest noise restrictions in the country.[35] Pilots are required to use the "River Visual" approach (used for runway 19), which follows the Potomac River, and is only possible with a ceiling of at least 3,500 feet (1,100 m) and visibility of 3 statute miles (4.8 km) or more.[36] There are lights on the National Mall, and the White House. Passengers on the right side can see CIA headquarters, Arlington National Cemetery, the Pentagon, and the United States Air Force Memorial.

The "River Visual" approach

On March 23, 2011, the air traffic control supervisor on duty reportedly fell asleep during the night shift. Two aircraft on approach to the airport were unable to contact anyone in the control tower and landed unassisted.[34]

On October 18, 2005, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport was reopened to general aviation on a limited basis (48 operations per day) and under restrictions: passenger and crew manifests must be submitted to the Transportation Security Administration 24 hours in advance, and all planes must pass through one of 27 "gateway airports" where re-inspections of aircraft, passengers, and baggage take place. An armed security officer must be on board before departing a gateway airport.[33]

  • A ban on aircraft with more than 156 seats (lifted in April 2002)[30]
  • A ban on the "River Visual" approach (lifted in April 2002)[30]
  • A requirement that, 30 minutes prior to landing or following takeoff, passengers were required to remain seated; if anyone stood up, the aircraft was to be diverted to Washington Dulles International Airport under military escort and the person standing would be detained and questioned by federal law enforcement officials (lifted in July 2005)[31]
  • A ban on general aviation (lifted in October 2005, subject to the restrictions below)[32]

After the attacks, the airport was closed for several weeks, and security was tightened when it reopened. Increased security measures included:

Prior to the September 11, 2001 attacks, the notable security measure was the southbound approach into the airport. Most of central Washington D.C. is prohibited airspace up to 18,000 feet (5,500 m). Due to this restriction, pilots approaching from the north follow the path of the Potomac River and turn just before landing. This approach is known as the River Visual. Similarly, flights taking off to the north are required to climb quickly and turn left to avoid the Washington Monument or the White House.[28][29]

Given Reagan National Airport's proximity to the city and high-security facilities, Reagan National has extra security precautions required by the Washington Air Defense Identification Zone that have been in place since the airport began operations.[28]

Line up for takeoff
Many pilots[27] regard the "River Visual" approach as one of the more interesting in the United States

Tightened security and safety concerns


Until 1999, Runways 1/19 and 4/22 were designated 18/36 and 3/21.

With the addition of more flights and limited space in the aging main terminal, the airport began an extensive renovation and expansion in the 1990s. Hangar 11 on the northern end of the airport was converted into The USAir Interim Terminal, designed by Joseph C. Giuliani, FAIA. Soon after an addition for Delta Air Lines was added in 1989 and was later converted to Authority offices. These projects allowed for the relocation of several gates in the main terminal until the new $450 million terminal complex became operational. On July 27, 1997, the new terminal complex, consisting of terminals B and C and two parking garages, opened. Argentine architect César Pelli designed the new terminals of the airport. The Interim Terminal closed immediately after its opening and was converted back into a hangar. One pier of the main terminal (now widely known as Terminal A), which mainly housed American Airlines and Pan Am, was demolished; the other pier, originally designed by Giuliani Associates Architects for Northwest/TWA remains operational today as gates 1–9.

Control tower and new terminal C

Construction of current terminal buildings

[26][25] The bill expressly stated that it did not require the expenditure of any funds to accomplish the name change; however, state, regional, and federal authorities were later required to change highway and transit signs at their own additional expense as new signs were made.[24]

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