Managing KDCA

I know that there already is a topic and size restrictions for DCA right now, but I want to give a guide similar to @CamJam series he has been doing. So, here is some info on Reagan National.

  • In 2015 KDCA handled a little more than 21 million passengers, making it the second-busiest airport in the Baltimore-Washington area (in terms of passengers)
  • There is a restriction on DCA that flights both arriving and departing are not allowed to exceed 1,250 miles in any direction nonstop (there are 40 slot exemptions)
  • Any international commercial flight arriving at DCA must be originating from an airport with CBP preclearance facilities as there is no customs at the airport itself

KDCA has three terminals: Hopefully you know your alphabet A,B,C
Terminal A handles:

  • Air Canada Express
  • Southwest
  • Frontier

Terminal B handles:

  • Alaska Airlines
  • United
  • Delta

Terminal B/C (concourse in between terminal B and C) handles:

  • American
  • JetBlue

Finally, Terminal C handles:

  • American

There are no scheduled cargo operations at Reagan.


  • Runway 1/19 and 15/33 are departing runways
  • Runway 1/19 is used for the majority of departures but occasionally a regional jet departs for 15/33
  • Runway 4/22 has been permanently shut down and will be converted to a taxiway soon, so no departures or arrivals into it
  • If departing runway 1 an immediate left turn is required to avoid restricted airspace over D.C.
  • If departing from 19 then a quick right turn is also required to stay over the river


  • Runway 1/19 and 15/33 are arriving runways
  • Runway 1/19 is also used for the majority of arrivals but 15/33 is used sometimes for regional jets
  • If landing 19 then the River Visual is always used
  • Now I am not a commercial pilot so I do not know for sure on this one If you are arriving on runway 33 then follow the Mount Vernon Visual for runway 1 until you are about 1 mile out and then turn right heading 40 and then line up on 33 quickly and land.


  • DCA is only 10-20 feet MSL
  • All of downtown north of DCA is restricted airspace so you cannot fly above it

I think I covered everything, but please let me know if I missed anything!
Hope this is helpful!


Very informal! Thanks! Just wondering, what airport had the most passenger traffic?

I would guess IAD…

It is actually BWI. IAD is third.

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For 2015…here’s an article…BWI was #1:

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Last time I was at DCA, I saw a SWA 737 bound for Houston takeoff from runway 15. Must have been extremely light that day as that runway is only 5,200 feet.


I’m not surprised BWI got first. It is serving 2 cities Baltimore and Washington D.C.

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Was just about to ask for something on my home Airport! Thanks for sharing! 👍🏻😍


The main factor for BWI being the largest is that is has a combination of many movements plus the highest average number of passengers per aircraft in the D.C. area.

And the cheap tickets southwest offers out of BWI as it is a focus airport for SWA

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THANK YOU, I was the person who created the topic on DCA restrictions, but I would not have the time/skill needed to make this. I will refer that topic here.


KDCA 15 is used for GPS approaches when conditions prohibit 19 Visual (both the full and shortened one). His occurs regularly.


I’m liking it!! Keep it up <3

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