Airports Authority Offers Annual Thanksgiving Travel Tips

Published: November 14, 2011

Travelers will find Free WiFi, New Concessions,
 and an Expanded International Arrivals Building


Thanksgiving is one of the busiest travel times for air travel around the nation. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority offers the following tips to help passengers with their travels this year.

“We advise our customers to plan ahead and arrive early during peak times this holiday season,” said Jack Potter, Metropolitan Airports Authority President and CEO. “We want travelers to have a good experience at our airports when they visit family and friends during this time of year.”

“For this holiday season, free WiFi is now available for passengers who want Internet access at both Reagan National and Dulles International Airports. Customers on the go will find a convenient connection from their wireless-enabled laptops or mobile devices”, said Mr. Potter.

The Airports Authority anticipates that the Thanksgiving holiday rush will start on Friday, November 18 and continue through Monday, November 28. Peak travel times are typically during the early morning (5:30 AM to 8 AM) and late afternoon (3:30 PM to 5:30 PM). There could also be a mid-day peak (11 AM to 1 PM). Travelers are advised to arrive at least two hours before a domestic flight and three hours before an international flight, especially during these peak times.

Student Ambassadors—wearing distinctive yellow shirts— and Travelers Aid volunteers- wearing blue blazers-are on the job at both Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport to give directions, answer questions and offer assistance to passengers.

Look for one-page information sheets in the “Travel Tips” section at Dulles International or Reagan National Airports Authority webpages. Travelers can also follow tweets about both airports @dcairports.


  • Arriving international passengers who are not connecting to other flights will clear U.S. Customs in a newly renovated and expanded International Arrivals Building (IAB). IAB was doubled in size to add new baggage claim carousels, additional U.S. Customs stations and dramatic new artwork, unique to Dulles and the Washington region.

New TSA Security Procedures

  • The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) is responsible for passenger screening at our nation’s airports. TSA has implemented some changes at security checkpoints at airports across the country including new procedures for screening children. Passengers are encouraged to visit theTransportation Security Administration’s website to learn more about these new security procedures.


The Airports Authority offers these travel tips:


  • Weather—both here and in other parts of the country—can significantly impact flight schedules. Call your airline's customer service number or visit the airline’s website to confirm your flight prior to coming to the airport, especially if severe weather is predicted.
  • Consider printing your boarding pass at home or work before coming to the airport. Some airlines also offer electronic boarding passes. Check with your airline for further information.
  • Place identification tags on both the inside and outside of your baggage.
  • If you are traveling with a laptop computer, be sure to place a label on the computer itself and another label on the carrying case.
  • Government-issued photo identification is required for all passengers over age 18.
  • Carefully check your bags to ensure that prohibited items are not present.



To Reagan National Airport

  • A Metro stop on the Blue and Yellow lines is located at Reagan National Airport, making Metro a convenient way to get to the airport. 

Note: the Metro Blue and Yellow Lines will NOT be serving Reagan National Airport from 10 PM November 18-November 20 for long-scheduled track work.

Beginning at 10 p.m. Friday, November 18, and continuing through system closing on Sunday, November 20, buses will replace Metrorail trains on the Blue and Yellow lines between King Street and Pentagon City stations. Three stations -- Crystal City, National Airport and Braddock Road -- will be closed during this time.

Metro will operate three shuttle bus routes to the airport:

  • Downtown Express: Non-stop service between Metro Center (12th & G streets) and Reagan National Airport
  • Airport Route 1: King Street - Reagan National Airport
  • Airport Route 2: Pentagon City - Crystal City - Reagan National Airport

At National Airport, customers should board shuttle buses outside Departures Door #1 (Terminal B) on the Ticketing Level. Door #1 is located just outside the Alaska Airlines ticket counter location.

Customers traveling through the affected portion of the Blue/Yellow lines should allow about 30 minutes of additional travel time.

For more information about these changes visit:

To Dulles International Airport

  • Passengers may consider taking Metro to the West Falls Church Station on the orange line and connecting to the Washington Flyer Bus for express bus service to Dulles Airport. Cost is $10 one way or $18 for a round-trip ticket on the Washington Flyer Bus. Visit for a bus schedule.
  • For Washington Flyer Taxi service to Dulles Airport, please call 703-572-TAXI (8294) to place a reservation.

To both airports

  • Super Shuttle provides door-to-door shared-ride service to both airports. Call 1-800-BLUEVAN or visit for a fare quote or to book a reservation on the Super Shuttle.



At Reagan National Airport

  • Reagan National has nearly 9,000 parking spaces.
  • Real-time parking information is available online by visiting or by calling 703-417-PARK to speak to a parking attendant 24/7.

At Dulles International Airport

  • Dulles has 25,000 parking spaces.
  • For parking information at Dulles, please call 703-572-4500 or visit
  • The Airports Authority provides Parking Locator Cards in yellow boxes at the elevator areas in the garages and in the bus shelters in the economy lots. Take one to help you find your car when you return from your trip.
  • PAY & GO is available at Dulles to avoid waiting in lines at the parking exits. Bring your parking ticket with you and use the Pay & Go Machines as you exit the Main Terminal on the lower level near the east and west exit doors. Once the ticket is paid at the Pay & Go machine in the Terminal, drivers exit at the Pay & Go lanes with the paid ticket without having to stop at the cashier booth.
  • At Dulles, Valet Parking is available within the Hourly Parking Lot in front of the Main Terminal. No reservations are necessary. Call 703-572-4540 for more information.

Cell Phone Waiting Areas Offered at Both Airports

  • When picking up an arriving passenger, wait in the Cell Phone Waiting Areas until your party calls to say they have arrived and are ready to be met at the curb. The Cell Phone Waiting Areas are free. Look for signs directing you to their locations when you arrive at the airport.



  • Bag those liquids and gels! Remember these numbers: 3-1-1. Only liquids and gels in 3-ounce or smaller containers are permitted in carry-on luggage. All 3-ounce containers must fit in 1 clear sealed plastic bag that is no larger than 1-quart. Place the bag in the gray bin at the checkpoint for inspection.
  • Have your boarding pass and government-issued photo ID available to present to the TSA officer.
  • Leave gifts unwrapped. They may be opened for inspection.
  • Place keys, loose change, cell phones, pagers, and other items from your pockets into your carry-on baggage prior to arriving at the checkpoint to avoid activating the metal detector. 
  • Avoid wearing heavy jewelry, metal hair barrettes or clothing with metal snaps or buttons that may activate the alarm at screening checkpoints. If the metal detector alarms when you pass through, you will be required to undergo additional screening, which may include a physical pat down search.
  • You must remove your shoes so consider wearing shoes that are easy to slip on and off to expedite your trip through security screening.
  • Carry-on baggage is limited to one carry-on bag plus one personal item. The airlines strictly enforce this rule. Personal items include laptops, purses, small backpacks, briefcases or camera cases. Laptops must be removed from most cases at the x-ray machine.
  • Spare lithium batteries—like the ones found in cameras, lap-top computers, cell phones and radio-controlled toys—are prohibited in checked baggage. Spare batteries are allowed in carry-on luggage as long as they are in the original packaging, in separate protective cases or have tape across the battery’s contacts to isolate the terminals and prevent short-circuiting.
  • If you are traveling with infants or young children, take them out of baby carriers and strollers and take them through the metal detector with you. Strollers and baby carriers go through the X-ray machine with your bags.
  • Check TSA for more information about screening procedures and a complete list of prohibited items.



  • Carry medicine, cash, jewelry, electronic devices and other important and valuable items with you on the plane—not in checked luggage.
  • If you leave your car at the airport, remove any valuables, including portable GPS devises.
  • Carry your purse and wallet securely, and keep your luggage and carry-on items in your sight at all times. Under security procedures, unattended bags and other items will be confiscated and may be destroyed. 



  • The Airports Authority has added convenient dining options at both Reagan National and Dulles International. Sit down and enjoy a meal before your flight or order something to bring with you on the airplane. Shopping and Dining guides are available at



About Reagan National Airport, please call 703-417-8000.

About Dulles International Airport, please call 703-572-2700.

About both airports, visit the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority’s website or follow us on Twitter @dcairports.