Reagan National Airport

Reagan National Airport Opens New Security Checkpoints

The great hall, which houses restaurants such as Ben's Chili Bowl, is behind security

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Flyers should expect big changes at Reagan National Airport now that new security checkpoints are open.

A brand-new area built to give the B and C terminals more space and better flow opened at 4 a.m. Tuesday.

Flyers may want to give themselves a few extra minutes to get to security, News4 Transportation Reporter Adam Tuss said.

“You kind of have to zig-zag to get down here,” Tuss said.

The security gates remain on level two. Gate numbers and security procedures at the A terminal, where Southwest flights are located, are the same.

Flyers can follow signs to gates 10 through 59 from the drop-off area, parking garages or Metro. Here’s more information.

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.

To get to the security gates, you’ll turn to descend on new escalators that will bring you into the new TSA checkpoint area. From there it’s through security, and then walk until you get through a tunnel.

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.

A rendering shows the interior of a new structure at National Airport that will house expanded security checkpoints.
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
News4 has learned that the airport expects to open brand-new security checkpoints in time for the holiday rush.

One major shift is that the great hall, which includes Ben’s Chili Bowl and Legal Sea Foods, is now behind the security checkpoint.

One frequent flyer told Tuss that the change was surprising.

He said, “I came down here and I was like, ‘I have no idea what airport I’m in!’”

Reagan National made the changes because of growth — the airport is used by millions more people annually than it was initially designed for.

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 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.”

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.

A rendering shows the exterior of a new structure at National Airport that will house expanded security checkpoints.
Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority
News4 has learned that the airport expects to open brand-new security checkpoints in about a month, in time for the holiday rush.

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.

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