a tall monument in the distance

Oh, don’t worry, we have time for dessert…

Admiration… for an airport? Those two words are hardly ever joined in holy matrimony. Washington Reagan Airport is undoubtedly the airport where I’ve pulled off my most notable travel wins, turning the impossible into the possible. It’s not without fault, but as far as major metropolitan airports go, especially compared to some counterparts roughly 300 miles to the north *cough* LaGuardia, it’s got so much going for it.

an aerial view of a cityProximity

I’ve finished lunch in Washington DC at 2:30 and made the 3PM flight home, and I’ve done it more times than I can count. 15 minutes into postcard Washington, less to Crystal City and just a bit more to McLean, Virginia makes Washington Reagan (DCA) more logistically accessible than most other major airports from the get go.

Ride Sharing

Washington National doesn’t shy away from ride sharing, and it’s to the benefit of passengers. Ride sharing signs are abundant and the pick up zones are extremely convenient, right down at baggage claim level. On another note, DC Uber drivers are generally of extremely high quality. The speed and efficiency of available ride sharing options doubles down on the proximity win.


Perhaps its because grumpy politicians are constantly flowing in and out, but DCA seems to have some of the most efficient TSA lanes, and that’s especially true for PreCheck and CLEAR service. Services are efficient and it’s far from abnormal to make it through from curb to gate in under 10 minutes. If you ever needed an extra reason to download an airline app and use mobile boarding passes, this airport is a great one.

a tall monument and a building10 Minutes

Since most flights are shuttle style services between other East Coast metropolis, flights close 10 minutes prior to departure, and in reality, sometimes even closer to the actual moment. When you couple efficient security with this extra logistical comfort, it’s not at all uncommon to catch a 9AM meeting in DC and be back in the air at 10, or worst case – 10:30. There just aren’t many cities or airports where you can say that.

Scenic Tour

This is hardly quantifiable stuff here, but the scenery quite often on display in and out of DCA rivals any airport in the world. Close ups of the Washington Monument, Capitol Building and all of glorious Washington DC (the buildings, not the people) are on regular display, and it’s impossible not to feel some joy as you take in these monuments on a twisting approach.

Success Stories

I was in DC and left McLean, Virginia at 3:00, arrived at DCA at 3:30, and had a cool 20 minutes to kill in the lounge before strolling onto the plane for final boarding. The entire experience made me realize that I often live on the knifes edge with DCA, but so far I haven’t been cut. Other major airports where I’ve padded 2 hours or more onto the arrival, I can’t say the same. So there you go, admiration.

What’s your favorite US airport?

Washington DC

Gilbert Ott

Gilbert Ott is an ever curious traveler and one of the world's leading travel experts. His adventures take him all over the globe, often spanning over 200,000 miles a year and his travel exploits are regularly...

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