Big changes are coming to Washington Reagan National Airport.
As News4 was first to report, new security checkpoints will open at the airport next week. Here's a step-by-step look at what you can expect.
The huge brand new security checkpoints at Reagan are set to open next Tuesday at 4 a.m. — and it’s going to be a dramatic change.
If you walk in from the drop-off deck up top, you’ll go through the sliding glass doors, onto the upper ticketing level to get your boarding pass or drop off luggage, and turn to descend on new escalators that will bring you into the wide open, new TSA checkpoint area. From there it’s through security, and then walk until you get through a tunnel.
We're making it easier for you to find stories that matter with our new newsletter — The 4Front. Sign up here and get news that is important for you to your inbox.
After you get through all of that, you'll end up in the main hall of Reagan National Airport — known for its restaurants such as Legal Sea Foods and Ben’s Chili Bowl.
The idea is to give travelers much more space there, since this will all now be beyond security.
"Once you go through the actual checkpoint, you will have everything available to you. All the way from gates 10 to 59 in the new concourse," said Brian Kalish of the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority. "So all that space where you used to queue, you’ll now have to relax and enjoy the plane-spotting.”
If you're heading into the airport from Metro or one of the parking garages, you'll be able to connect directly to the checkpoints if you don’t have to drop off luggage.
Scott Thomas Johnson, the TSA's federal security director for Reagan, says the changes also will now allow TSA to work 24 hours a day at the airport. Before, they would actually close between about midnight and 4 a.m.
"We used to shut down at night here at DCA, and if you remember you’d see the crowds build up, so if we have obviously big crowds, we can open up all the checkpoints here at once," Johnson said. "Or if we just have a few out in the queue, we can close it down.”
Washington, D.C., Maryland and Virginia local news, events and information
The TSA says it is fully staffed at the airport to handle crowds for the holidays.
New retail and dining options are expected as well.
Airport officials have said the new checkpoints will create "a seamless, free-flowing environment" between terminals B and C (Gates 10-45) and the airport's new 14-gate concourse (Gates 46-59), which replaced Reagan's notorious Gate 35X earlier this year.
There won't be any changes to the older terminal A where all the Southwest flights are located.