Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport may be the smaller of D.C.’s two commercial airfields, but its service to the nation’s capital makes it a frequented location. Situated on the Potomac River’s west bank, DCA is closer to the capital than Dulles and a lot more convenient. Reagan National is known as a hub for American Airlines, as well as a popular spot for short-range shuttle flights to New York and Boston. If you are using Reagan Airport for your travel needs, we have some helpful pointers you’ll want to make your trip a stress-free occasion.

How Early Should I Arrive for Domestic Flights at Reagan National?

According to the TSA, passengers should arrive two hours before their scheduled domestic flight. A two-hour window allows passengers to check-in, check their bags, navigate security, and reach their gate with enough time for leisure. Two hours also accommodates any setback or emergency that may occur.

Reagan National suggests a 90 to 120-minute window as conditions change depending on traffic. During a certain time of day, the airport sees lulls which make 90 minutes optimal for reaching your flight. Reagan can get quite busy, however, and in some cases, 120 minutes is just long enough.

During summer and holiday peaks, wait times can be longer than normal. As Reagan services urban areas throughout Boston and New York, it sees a lot of traffic during these seasons. According to the TSA, morning peak times are between 5 and 8 a.m. Monday through Sunday. Evening peak times are between 3 to 7 p.m., Sunday through Monday, and between 1 and 2 p.m. on Saturdays. It is suggested that passengers avoid these times to reduce lengthy security lines or allow another hour if they cannot be avoided.

How Early Should I Get to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport for International Flights

Reagan Airport is not an international airway, but does host certain international flights. Reagan is only used for international jet flights of a business nature, or for countries with certain U.S. Customs and Border Protection clearance. Flights from Canada, the Caribbean, and Bermuda fly into Reagan, but those particular flights can only land. International passenger flights fly out of Dulles. If you happen to be one of the few that utilizes Reagan for international business departures, then it is recommended you arrive three hours prior to your flight.

A three-hour window is a general rule of thumb for international flights. It is meant to compensate for checking-in, checking baggage, and navigating security, as well as passing through customs. Reagan is not an international airport but it still has custom services. So allowing three-hours to navigate customs is wise as one never knows what to expect.

How Early Should I Check My Bags at DCA?

Baggage should be checked two hours prior to domestic flights and three hours prior to international flights. Mostly, this is because airlines do not accept baggage any earlier. The latest a passenger can check their baggage is 45 minutes before their scheduled flight. Any time in between is perfectly fine.

As Reagan is not an international airway, most passengers will be dealing with domestic travel. If you happen to be catching a flight during a peak period you may want to allow more time for lengthy lines. It is recommended you check in online if your airline provides this service. By doing this, you reduce the amount of time it will take to check your bags.

What Time is Security/TSA Open at Reagan National Airport?

Terminal A checkpoints at Reagan open up at 4:30 a.m. Terminal B and C checkpoints open a little earlier at 4 a.m. The earliest flight times out of Reagan National are around 5 a.m., which provides an hour between the TSA station and the gate for morning travelers.