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How To Get From Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport to Washington, D.C. [2024]

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James Larounis
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James Larounis

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James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in...
Edited by: Keri Stooksbury
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Keri Stooksbury

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With years of experience in corporate marketing and as the Executive Director of the American Chamber of Commerce in Qatar, Keri is now Editor-in-Chief at UP, overseeing daily content operations and r...

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Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, known to locals as either “Reagan” or “National” depending on who you ask, is the closest airport to the nation’s capital, Washington, D.C. While it’s technically located in Arlington, Virginia, it’s a stone’s throw away from the center of Washington, D.C. It is the premier domestic gateway for the DMV (D.C., Maryland, and Virginia) region.

Getting between this airport and the city itself is a breeze, and Reagan is one of the easiest airports to navigate. There are several good options to get yourself downtown, and all possibilities only take a few minutes, making Reagan the best airport to fly into if you’ve got business in Washington, D.C.

Washington, D.C.’s 3 Airports

The Washington, D.C. region has 3 airports, each serving a different purpose.

  • Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) is the closest airport to Washington, D.C., and only serves domestic flights and a handful of flights to Canada. The airport has one of the busiest runways in the country and is a hub for American.
  • Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) is about 45 minutes outside Washington, D.C., but serves as the primary international gateway for the capital. It’s a hub for United and serves almost every major international carrier.
  • Baltimore Washington International Airport (BWI) is about 45 minutes north of Washington, D.C., in Maryland. While it’s technically Baltimore’s primary airport, its proximity to Washington, D.C., makes it an excellent alternative for Maryland passengers. BWI is a hub for low-cost carrier Southwest.

Overview of Cost Estimates

SCROLL FOR MORE
Transit MethodCost Estimate
Metro~$3 (depends on the end destination and time of day)
TaxiFrom $20
Ride-ShareFrom $15
Hired CarFrom $114

Metro

DCA Metro Platform
The Metro is the best way to get into D.C. from Reagan Airport! Image Credit: James Larounis

Reagan National Airport is directly on a Metro line, the city’s primary subway line. Both the blue and yellow lines service the airport, with frequent departures.

To get to the Metro station, simply follow signs from either the concourse level or baggage claim to the Metro, which is a very short walk up a ramp and outside of security. For passengers flying Southwest, Frontier, or Air Canada, you’ll need to first proceed from Terminal A to the main terminal building to catch the Metro; it’s about a 10- to 15-minute walk but very easy to do.

Metro charges depend on the station you intend to exit at, so there isn’t a standard fare for all trips. Your entire fare shouldn’t exceed $8, even during peak times. Once you reach the Metro station, you’ll follow signs for trains departing toward Washington, D.C. In the case of the yellow line, these are all trains going toward Mount Vernon Square, and blue-line trains are in the direction of Downtown Largo.

Trains run frequently. You’ll find a train leaving in either direction every few minutes, so even in the slower early morning or late evening times, you shouldn’t have to wait more than 15 minutes for a train, though this is usually a rarity.

Hot Tip:

Metro no longer issues single-use tickets. For contactless payment, you can add a digital Metro card via SmarTrip to your Apple Wallet or Google Wallet.

The blue line takes a longer route to get to downtown. It stops at more stations, including Foggy Bottom/GWU (exit for Georgetown and George Washington University), Farragut West (many government buildings are here), McPherson Square (exit for the White House), Metro Center (for transfer to the red line), and Smithsonian (exit for many Smithsonian museums).

The yellow line takes a shortcut to downtown and is less of a ride but makes fewer stops. Primary stops include L’Enfant Plaza, Archives, Gallery Place Chinatown, and Mount Vernon Square/Convention Center.

Taking luggage on the Metro is easy, as the airport’s station is accessible via an escalator and elevator. You only have to worry about crowds during peak rush hour (usually around 7 to 9 a.m. and 4 to 6 p.m.).

Taxi

Taxis at DCA
Image Credit: Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority

Taxi ranks are outside baggage claim at Terminal 1 (A gates) and Terminal 2 (B, C, D, E gates). Taxi rank staff will direct you to an appropriate cab, as the airport manages this process.

For many destinations in Washington, D.C., you’re looking at a fare of $20 or more, not including tip. Traffic in Arlington and across the bridges into Washington, D.C., can be terrible, so this fare may increase substantially depending on how long the taxi needs to sit in the bumper-to-bumper mess.

Ride-Share

The process of getting an Uber or Lyft couldn’t be easier. At both Terminal 1 and Terminal 2, the ride-share pickup area is on the island outside of the terminal building, across from the lane of drop-off traffic.

Often, ride-share cars aren’t sitting on airport property, so waiting quite a few minutes for a ride is not uncommon. During peak demand, there may also be no rides at all.

An Uber from the airport to the park nearest the White House will cost you about $23, though you’ll need to add a tip to that total. All types of ride-share vehicles are available, from sedans to luxury SUVs. However, because Reagan is a relatively small airport with a high concentration of passengers, be prepared for no vehicle to be available immediately.

Bottom Line:

Ride-share vehicles are typically not at the airport when you request a ride and are usually coming from nearby D.C., Alexandria, or Arlington. This may cause a slight delay in your ride’s arrival.

Hired Car

Because Reagan Airport is so close to Washington, D.C., hiring a car service usually won’t make much sense. You’re not traveling a long enough distance to warrant a luxury-type vehicle, though if you are, here are some sample rates from the airport to Union Station, the main railway station for the city:

  • $114 in an upscale sedan that fits 2
  • $138 in a luxury van that fits 5
  • $148 in a luxury sedan that fits 2

Your best bet is to grab a ride-share or taxi unless you’re traveling on an expense account or want to ensure a vehicle immediately awaits your plane’s arrival.

Final Thoughts

The beauty of Reagan Airport is its proximity to Washington, D.C. There are very few airports in the U.S. that are that close, so it’s no surprise that transport into the city is rarely a problem.

Taking the Metro is by far the easiest and cheapest way to get downtown, but if you’ve got multiple people and heavy bags, a ride-share is an excellent second option. Whichever option you choose, you’ll be at your destination in the city much quicker than in other cities with larger airports farther away from the action!

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I get from Reagan airport to the city?

There are 3 main ways to get from Reagan Airport into downtown Washington, D.C.: Metro, ride-share, and a hired car. The cheapest (and fastest option) is generally to take Metro.

Can Uber pick up at Reagan airport?

Yes, Uber can pickup directly at the airport, and passengers simply need to cross to the island once they exit baggage claim to meet their vehicle.

Does the Metro run from Reagan airport?

Yes, both the blue and yellow lines run to and from Reagan Washington National Airport.

Does Ronald Reagan airport have taxis?

A taxi dispatch stand is located outside of both Terminal 1 and 2. It’s very easy to grab a taxi once you leave the terminal building.

James Larounis's image

About James Larounis

James (Jamie) started The Forward Cabin blog to educate readers about points, miles, and loyalty programs. He’s spoken at Princeton University and The New York Times Travel Show and has been quoted in dozens of travel publications.

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