Choose the Best Airport to Fly into Washington, D.C.

Reagan National Airport

There is something enthralling about flying down to Washington DC no matter how many times you visit. As well as being the seat of government for the United States, Washington, D.C., holds a wealth of historical significance. Smithsonian Institution, the oldest and most famous museum in the U.S., is located within the city limits. When it comes to flying to Washington DC, many travelers are confused about the best airport to fly into Washington DC?  Is it DCA, IAD, or BWI?

Well, this is something you will decide as we continue with our blog. 

How to choose the airport to fly into Washington, D.C?

Airport choice is not just about selecting an airport, but also about choosing the right airport for your destination, budget, and amenities.

Washington DC is served by three airports and the three of them are dedicated to different locations.

Fun fact: None of the airports are located in Washington DC.

The three major airports are—

  • Reagan National Airport (DCA)
  • Dulles International Airport (IAD)
  • Marshall Airport (BWI)

Reagan National Airport (DCA)

Reagan National Airport
Reagan National Airport

There are only domestic flights available from this airport. It is the closest airport to Washington DC. The location is in Arlington, Virginia, just across the Potomac River. Getting there is easy, as you can take a cab or Uber for a short and reasonably-priced ride, or you can take the Metro, which stops right at the airport. Amtrak or the bus are better options. Taking the bus or train to/from airports is almost as fast as flying. However, it will drop you right at the heart of the city when it comes to security and transportation.

Dulles International Airport (IAD)

Washington Dulles International Airport
Washington Dulles International Airport

It is by far the best airport in the region, offering the most flight options and the highest overall quality of service. Yet there is a catch: the distance isn’t so close. There is a longer distance between Dulles and Leesburg, Virginia than between Dulles and the nation’s capital. Taking a shuttle from Reston to Washington DC will cost you less. If you’re traveling to Washington, avoid rush hour by planning your arrival time outside of it. 

Marshal Airport (BWI)

Ground crew and aircraft taxiing to the parking

If you are planning to travel to Baltimore then this is the right airport for you.

BWI Airport is approximately a 1-hour drive from Washington DC and it takes half an hour to reach by train. Most flights are domestic. You cannot walk to the airport from the train stop like you can at Reagan – it’s off-site. It’s good to let yourself have an extra 10-15 minutes to get there. You’ll catch a shuttle bus from the train station.

Which Washington, D.C. Airport is the best?

We have listed down the major amenities provided by these airports so you can make an educated choice. Airports are proficient in their own way, serving a variety of routes, so choosing the best airport can be difficult.

Reagan National Airport (DCA)

DCA is the closest airport to downtown Washington DC. It is easily accessible by public transportation. Passengers and airlines are given a higher level of security than at other airports in the region.  Getting through security is efficient at DCA because of their strict security policies and a lot of people travel for business. This makes DCA an attractive airport to fly out of because a lot of airlines operate from it. 

Dulles International Airport (IAD)

IAD has the most nonstop flights out of Washington D.C. Local flights are often cheaper out of IAD than DCA. IAD has the most flights out of Washington D.C. International routes are often a little cheaper out of IAD compared to DCA. Domestic routes are generally a little more expensive out of IAD.

Marshal Airport (BWI)

The best thing about BWI, though, is its cheap flights and budget-friendly amenities. Since food and drinks are not subject to premium markups, neither the flights nor the terminal treats will break the bank. In addition to a gym in the D/E terminal, BWI now offers a less crowded security line when compared with other Virginia airports.


The three airports all have different amenities and drawbacks, so it is wise to pick the best airport near Washington DC that is the least expensive, provides the highest level of convenience, and is cost-effective. You can use shuttles and trains if you are traveling fewer distances from the airport. If you are traveling more distances, consider taking a car.

Read Also: Which Airport is the Best to Fly into New York City?

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