Airport Travel Tips for Inauguration Visitors

Published: January 11, 2013

Airline Passengers on Jan. 22 Should Arrive 2-4 Hours Before Flight Time

Passengers at Reagan National and Dulles International Airports should be prepared for extra crowds and congestion on Jan. 22, the day following the Presidential Inauguration. While the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority does not anticipate any unusual operational issues that day, an influx of passengers may produce longer waits than usual at airline ticket counters and security checkpoints. If inclement weather occurs, passengers should monitor their flight status directly with their airline and follow the Airports Authority’s twitter feed or for airport updates.

The airports experienced crowded terminals on the day following the 2009 Inauguration when numerous passengers arrived many hours before their scheduled flight time. This year, the Airports Authority is working with local tourism organizations to encourage relaxed hotel check-out times and streamline the transport of guests to the airport. More information about ground transportation is available by visiting and selecting an airport. Airport police will monitor the curbsides to ensure smooth traffic flow in passenger drop-off areas.

Passenger flight arrivals in the days before the Jan. 21 Inauguration are not expected to produce unusual operational issues at the airport. Our airports have plenty of capacity to handle the expected activity.

Tuesday, Jan. 22 is expected to be a busy day at Reagan National and Dulles International as Inauguration visitors check out of local hotels and travel to the airports. While airport staffing will be optimized on this date, passengers are asked to follow these important travel tips:

  • Check in online and print your boarding pass before coming to the airport.
  • Before checking out and departing your hotel, check with your airline to ensure your flight is on schedule. Some hotels may offer extended check-out times at no additional charge.
  • Rebooking flights will be easier to do on the phone or online versus waiting in line at the airport ticket counter. This is especially true during inclement weather.
  • Arrive at the airport between two and four hours before your flight. Arriving too early could contribute to unnecessary crowding, while arriving too late could jeopardize your flight plans.
  • New: Dress for cold weather. Below-normal temperatures are expected throughout the day.

Here are some additional tips to speed your travel through the terminals:

  • If you park in our lots or garages, take your ticket with you. Using pre-payment machines before reaching your car allows for a speedy exit through “Prepaid” lanes at Reagan National and “Pay and Go” lanes at Dulles.
  • Our airports participate in TSA Pre-Check (TSA Pre✓™), which offers dedicated security queues and an expedited screening process. Find out if you are eligible and enroll. Dulles has a dedicated TSA Pre-Check checkpoint located at the rear of the departures (ticketing) level.
  • Dulles has real-time security wait times available on your smartphone and on displays near the checkpoints. All Dulles checkpoints are connected beyond security, so passengers can select the one with the shortest wait time.
  • Need help while you’re here? Look for our Student Ambassadors wearing distinctive yellow shirts, or visit our information counters staffed by Travelers Aid volunteers wearing blue blazers.