Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, formerly Washington National Airport, is on the Potomac across the river from Washington DC. Along with Baltimore Washington International and Dulles International, Reagan National is one of three major airports serving the Washington Metro area. Reagan National is easily my favorite of the three airports for a number of reasons.

Ronald Reagan National Airport
Ronald Reagan National Airport

Dulles and BWI are massive sprawling airports with shuttle buses and mobile lounges. Reagan National barely has enough room for the runway. I always like smaller airports. They feel like they are scaled to human beings. There is plenty of security at National, but it seems to move along more smoothly than Dulles or BWI.

Dulles and BWI are outside the Beltway at the periphery of the Washington Capitol Area. Reagan National is at the heart of everything, wedged at the confluence of DC, Alexandria and Arlington. For me, it’s a long drive just to get to BWI or Dulles, but Reagan National is here, and it’s accessible by Metro. Reagan National is a station on both the Yellow and Blue lines.

Ronald Reagan National Airport
Ronald Reagan National Airport

Extended parking is available at Dulles or BWI, but on the shuttle bus, the ride from the parking lot to the terminal seems like a mile or more. At Reagan National, extended parking is at my house. Because instead of taking a shuttle, I can take the Metro to the airport.

The runway is a short at Reagan National and it launches planes up over GW Parkway and at the Washington Monument, requiring a steep climb and a hard left on take off. Some folks find this terrifying, but I have to admit I love it. I know it’s a safe path, because planes take off here day and night, so I sit back and enjoy the abrupt take-off and turn.

Reagan National is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week, although many ticket counters and restaurants in the airport close during off-hours. Reagan National is located within the Commonwealth of Virginia, but it has a Washington DC address to identify the airport’s location more easily for travelers.

The Perimeter Rule and the High Density Rule affect flights at Reagan National. Under the Perimeter Rule, nonstop aircraft flights are limited to a range of 1,250 miles or less. In 2000, Congress permitted the FAA to allow six round-trip flights to points outside the perimeter. The High Density Rule (or “Slot” rule) limits the number of landings or takeoffs allowed in an hour. The rule affects Reagan National because of the Airport’s limited airfield capacity.

Reagan National is located in Arlington County near/in Crystal City. It is most easily accessed from the George Washington Parkway. There are a good many condos and homes in the Crystal City area and they’re all just a metro stop away from Reagan National. The take-off and approach to Reagan National is down the Potomac, so that area residents get very little noise or fly-over from the jets at Reagan National.

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