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What Airport Is DCA? Which City Is It In?

  • Tips & Trips
  • Renee Martin
  • 5 minutes

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Have you ever wondered what airport is called DCA? We admit this one’s a bit of a toughie since the airport code does not give much away. But as always, we’re here to help with any airport-related info you need.

What airport is DCA?

DCA is the Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport, located in Washington, D.C. Even though it is commonly referred to as DCA, its full name often confuses air travelers and tourists alike.

What city is DCA airport located in?

DCA is in Arlington County, 5 miles from downtown Washington DC.

DCA is the closest airport to Washington D.C., the capital of the US, and serves as a popular transportation hub for tourists and locals alike. The airport has 2 terminals and 59 gates. DCA has a lot to offer travelers, including restaurants, cafes, bars, shops, and free Wi-Fi all over the airport.

History of DCA Airport

DCA Airport started its life named National Airport in June 1941. President Franklin Roosevelt observed the first official landing. The legend goes that airlines drew straws to figure out who would land first at DCA. American Airlines won the honor and landed first, followed by Eastern Airlines.

National Airport was hailed as the last word in airports when it first opened. It was a convergence of the most cutting-edge innovations in airport planning, construction, aircraft handling, traffic control, lighting, passenger amenities, and vehicular traffic management.

In 1998, Washington National Airport was renamed Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport in honor of the 40th President of the United States, Ronald Reagan.

What does DCA airport stand for?

DCA should logically stand for DC Airport. At least, that’s what we figured, though we couldn’t find any official documentation supporting it.


DCA has a lot to offer travelers in addition to its convenient location and transportation options. In the airport’s terminals, there are places to shop and eat, including restaurants and snack shops. Travelers can also take advantage of free Wi-Fi, charging stations, lounges, and special services for veterans.

It is also close to highways, trains, and shuttles that connect to the rest of the Washington metropolitan area. DCA makes it easy for travelers to get to downtown D.C., and its location gives visitors the best views of the Capitol and other city landmarks. Travelers can connect directly to the Metrobus or Metrorail system from the airport.

Navigating DCA Airport

You might find it hard to navigate Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport because it has many terminals and services. We recommend checking out a Reagan International Airport terminal guide before you get there.

Is Dulles or DCA bigger?

Dulles is larger than DCA in terms of size and passenger volume. DCA covers 861 acres, while Dulles sprawls over 13,000 acres!

Is there a shuttle between DCA and IAD?

Private shuttle services run between Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) and Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA).

What is the wait time at DCA airport?

The average wait time at DCA is around 10 – 15 minutes. It might go higher during peak travel periods. You can check this online tracker to know the current average TSA wait time at DCA.

DCA Airport facts

  • Because of how close it is to the U.S. capital, the airport has strict security measures in place, and travelers are advised to arrive with plenty of time before their scheduled departure.
  • The “perimeter rule sets the maximum nonstop distance for flights into and out of National.” The current limit is 1,250 statute miles.
  • The federal government ran DCA until President Ronald Reagan’s administration gave control to the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which had just been set up.
  • At the DCA Airport, there is a Presidential Aviation Exhibit with planes used by former U.S. presidents. Presidents Kennedy, Johnson, and Nixon all used Air Force One. Also on display are the presidential helicopters used by Presidents Eisenhower, Johnson, and Nixon.
  • DCA is one of the few airports in the U.S. that has a direct connection to the Metro (subway). The airport is easy to get to and from because it has its own station on the Washington Metro system.

DCA Airport parking

The airport offers hourly, daily, and economy parking so travelers can choose what works best for them. The airport also has a program for reserved parking, which lets people reserve a parking spot ahead of time, and a cell phone lot for people waiting to pick up passengers who have just landed. Prices for parking at DCA can change based on how long you stay and what kind of parking you choose.

There are also plenty of offsite DCA parking options available. These can be a cost-effective solution to the prohibitive costs of parking directly at the airport. These offsite DCA parking lots usually offer shuttle services to and from the airport. Some of them even provide additional amenities such as car detailing and valet parking.

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