Advice for navigating Reagan National and Dulles International throughout the holidays

Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport are preparing for another record holiday travel season as more people plan to take to the skies between Thanksgiving and the New Year.

More than 1.3 million passengers are expected to travel through the National Capital Region’s two airports in the 10 days surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday, with nearly 140,000 passengers arriving, departing and connecting on peak days at Reagan National and Dulles International. Traffic nationally is projected to grow by 7 percent—reaching its heaviest November 16 through November 21 leading up to the Thanksgiving holiday and on November 25 and 26 as people travel home.

As a result, the Airports Authority expects more congestion on airport roadways and inside airport terminals—especially at Reagan National where Project Journey construction continues to impact curbside pickup areas and travel lanes. To ensure a faster, more enjoyable journey:

  • Make sure you’re going to the correct airport. It can be easy to overlook which airport is on your ticket, or to show up at one simply out of habit. Take one last look at your reservation before leaving for the airport so you don’t run the risk of missing your flight. Airports may be identified by their code (IAD for Dulles International or DCA for Reagan National).
  • Get there early. Not just to avoid the anxiety of missing a flight, but to take advantage of the airport’s amenities. Reagan National and Dulles International offer travelers gourmet eats, massages, wine tastings, a range of shopping options, live performances and more. Build the airport into your travel plans as a part of your holiday journey.
  • Worried about navigating the airport? Airline and airport websites and mobile apps offer great resources for managing travel and staying informed. Download apps in advance to familiarize yourself with the airport and opt-in to push notifications that can alert you to possible delays, gate changes and zone-specific boarding times. The DC Airports app provides holiday parking discounts and terminal maps with shopping and dining options near you and on your way to the gate.
  • What can you take through security? Reach out to @AskTSA for answers and guidance on what you can and can’t pack—or download the My TSA mobile app and type in your questions.
  • Missed that local dish your family and friends told you was a must try? Reagan National and Dulles International both feature local flavors and those must-try locales for a last-chance opportunity to taste a bit of the D.C. region. At Reagan National, Ben’s Chili Bowl serves the same half-smokes to passengers that have made it a cultural U Street institution for generations, while at Dulles International, Chef Geoff’s offers up a range of locally inspired creations. 
  • Picking someone up at the airport? Consider meeting them on the ticketing level during peak arrival times when the arrivals roadway is most congested. Reagan National provides free parking in garages up to 60 minutes, so you can surprise your loved ones by meeting them inside the airport. 
  • Traveling with a disability or family member with a disability? Tell the airline in advance (airlines manage wheelchair assistance), call TSA Cares three days before your trip for assistance (855.787.2227) and notify your airline that you’d like to pre-board when checking in and upon arrival at your gate.
  • Run into issues while traveling? Reach out to your airline on Twitter. Most airlines have dedicated social care teams that can quickly help resolve issues regarding your travel plans without making you wait on hold or in line. Travelers Aid desks at Dulles International and Reagan National also provide a great resource when things don’t go as planned—sharing alternative flight options and helping book last-minute hotels. 
  • Construction at Reagan National. Project Journey at Reagan National is a multi-year effort to transform the passenger experience through the construction of two new security checkpoints and a new 14-gate concourse replacing bus operations from Gate 35X. Learn more about construction impacts and ways to best navigate potential congestion at

The Airports Authority wishes all those traveling through Reagan National and Dulles International a safe journey and happy holidays. For more travel tips, construction updates and a complete schedule of holiday events and performances, visit and

About the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority 

The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority operates the U.S. Capital Region’s gateways to the nation and the world, Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport and Washington Dulles International Airport, as well as the Dulles Airport Access Highway, the Dulles Toll Road and construction of the Silver Line project, a 23-mile extension of the Metrorail public transit system through northern Virginia. A record 46.6 million passengers passed through the two airports in 2017.