Washington Dulles International Airport (// DUL-iss) (IATA: IAD, ICAO: KIAD, FAA LID: IAD) is an international airport in Loudoun and Fairfax counties in Virginia, United States, 26 miles (42 km) west of downtown Washington, D.C. It is named after John Foster Dulles, the 52nd Secretary of State who served under President Dwight D. Eisenhower. The Dulles main terminal is a well-known landmark designed by Eero Saarinen. Operated by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, Dulles Airport occupies 13,000 acres (52.6 km2) straddling the Loudoun-Fairfax line. Most of the airport is in the unincorporated community of Dulles, in Loudoun County, with a small portion in the unincorporated community of Chantilly in Fairfax County. The airport serves the Washington metropolitan area.
Dulles is one of the three major airports in the larger Baltimore–Washington metropolitan area with more than 21 million passengers a year. Dulles has the most international passenger traffic of any airport in the Mid-Atlantic outside of the New York metropolitan area, including approximately 90% of the international passenger traffic in the Baltimore-Washington region. On a typical day, more than 60,000 passengers pass through Washington Dulles to and from more than 125 destinations around the world. However, Dulles Airport now ranks behind both Baltimore–Washington International Airport (BWI) and Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) in total annual passenger boardings.
Prior to World War II, Hoover Field was the main commercial airport serving Washington. It was replaced by Washington National Airport in 1941. After the war, in 1948, the Civil Aeronautics Administration began to consider sites for a second major airport to serve the nation's capital. Congress passed the Washington Airport Act in 1950 to provide funding for a new airport in the region. The initial CAA proposal in 1951 called for the airport to be built in Fairfax County near what is now Burke Lake Park, but protests from residents, as well as the rapid expansion of Washington's suburbs during the time, led to reconsideration of this plan. One competing plan called for the airport to be built in the Pender area of Fairfax County, while another called for the conversion of Andrews Air Force Base in Prince George's County, Maryland.
The current site was selected by President Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1958; the Dulles name was chosen by Eisenhower's aviation advisor Pete Quesada, who later served as the first head of the Federal Aviation Administration. As a result of the site selection, the unincorporated, largely African-American community of Willard, which once stood in the airport's current footprint, was demolished, and 87 property owners had their holdings condemned.
The civil engineering firm Ammann and Whitney was named lead contractor. The airport was dedicated by President John F. Kennedy on November 17, 1962. As originally opened, the airport had three runways (current day runways 1C/19C, 1R/19L, and 12/30). Its original name, Dulles International Airport, was changed in 1984 to Washington Dulles International Airport. The main terminal was designed in 1958 by famed Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen, and it is highly regarded for its graceful beauty, suggestive of flight. In the 1990s, the main terminal at Dulles was reconfigured to allow more space between the front of the building and the ticket counters. Additions at both ends of the main terminal more than doubled the structure's length. The original terminal at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport in Taoyuan, Taiwan was modeled after the Saarinen terminal at Dulles.
The design included a landscaped man-made lake to collect rainwater, a low-rise hotel, and a row of office buildings along the north side of the main parking lot. The design also included a two-level road in front of the terminal to separate arrival and departure traffic and a federally owned limited access highway connecting the terminal to the Capital Beltway (I-495) about 17 miles (27 km) to the east. (Eventually, the highway system grew to include a parallel toll road to handle commuter traffic and an extension to connect to I-66). The access road had a wide median strip to allow the construction of a passenger rail line, which will be in the form of an extension of the Washington Metro's Silver Line and is expected to be completed in 2020.
By the 1980s the original design, featuring mobile lounges to meet each plane, was no longer well-suited to Dulles' role as a hub airport. Instead, midfield concourses were added to allow passengers to walk between connecting flights without visiting the main terminal. Mobile lounges were still used for international flights and to transport passengers between the midfield concourses and the main terminal. An underground tunnel (consisting of a passenger walkway and moving sidewalks) which links the main terminal and Concourse B was opened in 2004. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) began a renovation program for the airport including a new security mezzanine with more room for lines.
A new train system, dubbed AeroTrain and developed by Mitsubishi, began in 2010 to transport passengers between the concourses and the main terminal. The system, which uses rubber tires and travels along a fixed underground guideway, is similar to the people mover systems at Singapore Changi Airport, Hartsfield–Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and Denver International Airport. The train is intended to replace the mobile lounges, which many passengers found crowded and inconvenient. The initial phase includes the main terminal station, a permanent Concourse A station, a permanent Concourse B station, a permanent midfield concourse station (with access to the current temporary C concourse via a tunnel with moving walkways), and a maintenance facility. Mobile lounges continue to service the D Concourse from both the main terminal and Concourse A. Even after AeroTrain is built out and the replacement Concourses C and D are built, the mobile lounges and plane mates will still continue to be used, to transport international arriving passengers to the International Arrivals Building, as well as transport passengers to aircraft parked on hardstands without direct access to jet bridges. Dulles has stated that the wait time for a train does not exceed four minutes, compared to the average 15-minute wait and travel time for mobile lounges.
Under the development plan, future phases would see the addition of several new midfield concourses and a new south terminal. A fourth runway (parallel to the existing runways 1 and 19 L&R) opened in 2008, and development plans include a fifth runway to parallel the existing runway 12–30. If this runway is built, the current runway will be redesignated as 12L-30R while the new runway will be designated 12R-30L. An expansion of the B concourse, used by many low cost airlines as well as international arrivals, has been completed, and the building housing Concourses C and D will eventually be knocked down to make room for a more ergonomic building. Because Concourses C and D are temporary concourses, the only way to get to those concourses is via moving walkway from the Concourse C station which is built in the location of the future gates and Concourse D by mobile lounge from the main terminal.
The airport's terminal complex consists of a main terminal and two midfield terminal buildings: Concourses A/B and C/D. The entire terminal complex has 123 gates and 16 hardstand locations from which passengers can board or disembark using the airport's plane mate vehicles.
Conceived in early planning sessions in 1959, Dulles is one of the few remaining airports to use the mobile lounge (also known as "plane mates" or "people movers") for boarding and disembarkation from aircraft, and to transfer passengers between the midfield concourses and to and from the main terminal building. They have all been given names based on the postal abbreviations of 50 states, e.g., VA, MD, AK.
The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority has begun to gradually phase out the mobile lounge system for inter-terminal passenger movements in favor of the AeroTrain, an underground people mover which currently operates to Concourses A, B and C, as well as underground pedestrian walkway tunnels (now in service to concourse A/B). The mobile lounges are still used to transport passengers directly from the main terminal to Concourse D. Plane mates also remain in use to disembark international passengers and carry them to the International Arrivals Building, as well as to convey passengers to and from aircraft on hard stand (i.e., those parked remotely on the apron without access to jet bridges).
Dulles's iconic main terminal houses ticketing, baggage claim, U.S. Customs and Border Protection, an international arrivals building for passenger processing, the Z gates, information facilities and other support facilities. The terminal was recognized by the American Institute of Architects in 1966 for its design concept; its roof is a suspended catenary providing a wide enclosed area unimpeded by any columns.
The main terminal was extended in 1996 to 1,240 feet (380 m)—Saarinen's original design length—which was slightly more than double its originally constructed length of 600 feet (180 m). In addition, an extension for international arrivals was added to the west of the main terminal in 1991. On September 22, 2009, an expansion of the international arrivals building opened which includes a 41,400 square feet (3,850 m2) arrival hall for customs and immigration processing. The new facility has the capacity to process 2,400 arriving passengers per hour.
Also in September 2009, a 121,700 square feet (11,310 m2) central security checkpoint was added on a new security mezzanine level of the main terminal. This checkpoint replaced previous checkpoints which were located behind the ticketing areas. A separate security checkpoint is available on the baggage claim level. Both security checkpoints connect to the AeroTrain, which links the main terminal with the A, B, and C concourses.
There are two sets of gates in the main terminal: the first is the "H" Gates, which are waiting areas for airlines which lack permanent physical jetbridges and therefore use plane mates to reach planes parked at 16 hard-stand locations. The other is a set of four gates with jetbridges that are designated as Concourse Z, which provides service for Air Canada Express and Frontier Airlines.
All non-United flights & United Express operate out of these two concourses. Concourse A (which has 47 gates) composes the eastern part of the closer midfield terminal building. It consists of a permanent ground level set of gates designed for small planes and regional jets used by United Express, and several former Concourse B gates. The concourse is primarily used for international flights. Air France operates an airline lounge opposite gate A22, Etihad Airways operates a First and Business Class lounge across from gate A15, and Virgin Atlantic has a Clubhouse lounge across from gate A32. Concourse A's AeroTrain station is located halfway along the horizontal length of the building, between gates A6 and A14.
Concourse B (which has 28 gates) composes the western half of the building. It is the first of the permanent elevated midfield concourses. Originally constructed in 1998 and designed by Skidmore, Owings & Merrill and Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum, the B concourse contained 20 gates. In 2003, 4 additional gates were added to concourse B, followed by a 15-gate expansion in 2008. In addition to the AeroTrain station located between gates B51 and B62, Concourse B also has an underground walkway to connect it to the main terminal. Concourse B is used by some international carriers, and is also utilized by all non-United domestic and Canada flights. The facility also includes a British Airways Galleries lounge, a Lufthansa lounge divided into Senator and Business class sections located between gates B49 and B51, and a Turkish Airlines Lounge near gate B43.
Concourses C/D are solely used for United Airlines flights. All mainline United flights and most United Express regional jet operations operate out of these concourses (some United Express flights use Concourse A).
These concourses were constructed in 1983 and designed by Hellmuth, Obata and Kassabaum. The two concourses have 22 gates each, numbered C1-C28 and D1-D32, with odd-numbered gates on the north side of the building and even numbered gates on the south side. Concourse C composes the eastern half of the terminal and Concourse D composes the gates on the west half of the terminal. The C/D concourses were given a face lift in 2006 which included light fixture upgrades, new paint finishes, new ceiling grids and tiles, heating and air conditioning replacement, and complete restroom renovations.
Concourse C also has a dedicated Federal Inspection Station located at ground level. International United flights not originating at an airport with US customs preclearance can directly deplane passengers via jetbridge at Concourse C (as opposed to using plane mates to offload passengers). Once deplaned, arriving passengers are separated. Passengers terminating at Dulles take a mobile lounge that transports them to the International Arrivals Building, while connecting passengers continuing on another United flight go through U.S. Customs and Immigration at the FIS station on the ground level. Since this immigration facility is only for connecting passengers on United and other Star Alliance carriers, it has shorter lines and passengers don't have to reclear security at the massive security checkpoints in the main terminal.
The facility houses three United Clubs: one adjacent to Gate C7, one adjacent to gate C17, and one adjacent to gate D8. A United International First Lounge is near gate C2. Concourse C is directly linked to the main terminal via the AeroTrain, while mobile lounges can be used to travel from Concourse D to the main terminal.
A new and permanent C/D concourse (also called "Tier 2") is planned as part of the D2 Dulles Development Project. The new building is to include a three-level structure with 44 airline gates and similar amenities to Concourse B. The concourse plan includes a dedicated mezzanine corridor with moving sidewalks to serve international passengers. The design and construction of the new C/D concourse has not been scheduled. When built, it is planned that both terminals will be connected to the main terminal and other concourses via the AeroTrain. To that extent, the AeroTrain station at Concourse C was built at the location where the future Concourse C/D structure is proposed to be built, and is connected to the existing Concourse C via an underground walkway.
Since many major domestic and international airlines have a large presence at Washington Dulles, there are several airline lounges within the airport:
|Air Canada Express||Montréal–Trudeau, Toronto–Pearson|
|Air France||Paris–Charles de Gaulle|
|All Nippon Airways||Tokyo–Narita|
|Alaska Airlines||Los Angeles (begins April 25, 2018), San Francisco (begins April 25, 2018), Seattle/Tacoma|
|American Airlines||Dallas/Fort Worth, Los Angeles, Miami
|Aviancaa||Bogotá, La Paz|
|Avianca El Salvador||San Salvador|
|Brussels Airlines||Seasonal: Brussels|
|Cathay Pacific||Hong Kong (begins September 15, 2018)|
|Copa Airlines||Panama City|
|Delta Air Lines||Atlanta, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Salt Lake City, Seattle/Tacoma (begins June 8, 2018)
Seasonal: Cancún, Detroit
|Delta Connection||Detroit, Minneapolis/St. Paul, New York–JFK|
|Ethiopian Airlinesb||Addis Ababa|
|Etihad Airways||Abu Dhabi|
|Frontier Airlinesc||Austin, Las Vegas, Ontario (ends April 7, 2018), Orlando, San Antonio, Tulsa (begins April 11, 2018)
Seasonal: Colorado Springs, Denver
|JetBlue Airways||Boston, New York–JFK|
|Porter Airlines||Toronto–Billy Bishop|
|Primera Air||London-Stansted (begins August 22, 2018)|
|Royal Air Maroc||Casablanca|
|South African Airways||Accra, Dakar–Diass, Johannesburg–O. R. Tambo|
|Southwest Airlines||Atlanta, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Orlando|
|United Airlines||Amsterdam, Atlanta, Austin, Beijing–Capital, Boston, Brussels, Cancún, Chicago–O'Hare, Dallas/Fort Worth, Denver, Fort Lauderdale, Frankfurt, Geneva, Hartford, Honolulu, Houston–Intercontinental, Las Vegas, London–Heathrow, Los Angeles, Mexico City, Munich, Newark, New Orleans, Orlando, Paris–Charles de Gaulle, Phoenix–Sky Harbor, Portland (ME), Portland (OR), Raleigh/Durham, Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, San Juan, São Paulo–Guarulhos, Seattle/Tacoma, Tampa, Tokyo–Narita, Zürich
Seasonal: Aruba, Barcelona, Charleston (SC), Cincinnati (begins April 9, 2018), Cleveland, Dublin, Eagle/Vail, Edinburgh (begins May 23, 2018), Grand Cayman, Guatemala City, Hayden/Steamboat Springs, Lisbon, Madrid, Montego Bay, Norfolk, Providenciales, Punta Cana, Rome–Fiumicino, St. Maarten, St. Thomas, San José de Costa Rica, San José del Cabo, Vancouver
|United Express||Albany, Atlanta, Austin, Boston, Buffalo, Burlington (VT), Charleston (SC), Charleston (WV), Charlotte, Charlottesville (VA), Clarksburg (WV), Chicago–O'Hare, Cincinnati, Cleveland, Columbia (SC), Columbus–Glenn, Dallas/Fort Worth, Dayton, Detroit, Fayetteville (NC), Grand Rapids, Greensboro, Greenville/Spartanburg, Harrisburg, Hartford, Houston–Intercontinental, Huntsville, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Knoxville, Lewisburg (WV), Louisville, Minneapolis/St. Paul, Montréal–Trudeau, Nashville, New Orleans, New York–LaGuardia, Newark, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Ottawa, Philadelphia, Pittsburgh, Plattsburgh (begins July 1, 2018), Portland (ME), Providence, Raleigh/Durham, Richmond, Roanoke, Rochester (NY), St. Louis, San Antonio, Savannah, Shenandoah Valley, State College (PA), Syracuse, Toronto–Pearson, Wilmington (NC) (begins April 9, 2018)
|Virgin America||Los Angeles, San Francisco (both end April 24, 2018)|
|Volaris Costa Rica||San Salvador, San José de Costa Rica (both begin May 17, 2018)|
|FedEx Express||Indianapolis, Memphis, New York–JFK, Newark|
Along with Newark Liberty International Airport, Dulles is one of United Air Lines' two East Coast hubs, with many nonstop flights to Europe, Asia, and South America. As of June 2015 United handled 61.1% of scheduled air carrier passengers at the airport. American Airlines has a 4.8% market share. Delta Air Lines handles 4.1% of scheduled air carrier passengers. In addition, 29 foreign carriers have service in and out of Washington Dulles.
On a typical day, Dulles averages 1,000 to 1,200 flight operations. Dulles International served 21.6 million passengers in 2014, a 1.7% decrease over 2013. However, international passenger traffic has increased by 1.6% to nearly 7.1 million during the same time. Additional international service is commencing service at Washington Dulles. With 45 weekly flights, Dulles is now the third largest United States gateway to the Middle East. Even before the United States economic recession started, international passengers have continued to grow, which prompted the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority to expand the International Arrivals Building to handle 2,400 passengers per hour.
|1||Los Angeles, California||554,210||American, United, Virgin America|
|2||San Francisco, California||552,960||United, Virgin America|
|3||Denver, Colorado||523,480||Frontier, Southwest, United|
|4||Atlanta, Georgia||439,810||Delta, Frontier, Southwest, United|
|5||Orlando, Florida||284,220||Frontier, United|
|6||Boston, Massachusetts||265,850||JetBlue, United|
|7||Dallas/Fort Worth, Texas||247,150||American, Frontier, United|
|8||Chicago–O'Hare, Illinois||244,420||Frontier, United|
|9||Charlotte, North Carolina||225,920||American, United|
|1||London–Heathrow||849,690||1.9%||British Airways, United, Virgin Atlantic|
|3||Paris–Charles de Gaulle||453,762||0.5%||Air France, United|
|5||Tokyo–Narita||284,275||2.9%||All Nippon Airways, United|
|8||Beijing–Capital||231,982||19.9%||Air China, United|
|13||Cancún||164,001||49.2%||Delta, Frontier, United|
|14||Toronto–Pearson||163,472||9.2%||Air Canada, United|
|15||Abu Dhabi||156,978||32.4%||Etihad Airways|
|3||Delta Air Lines||75,772|
Dulles is accessible via the Dulles Access Road/Dulles Greenway (State Route 267) and State Route 28. The Dulles Airport Access Highway (DAAH) is a toll-free, limited access, highway owned by the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) to facilitate car access to Dulles from the Washington Capital Beltway and Interstate 66. After it opened, non-airport traffic between Washington and Reston became so heavy that a parallel set of toll lanes were added on the same right-of-way to accommodate non-airport traffic (Dulles Toll Road). However, the airport-only lanes are both less congested as well as toll-free. As of November 1, 2008, MWAA assumed responsibility from the Virginia Department of Transportation both for operating the Dulles Toll Road and for the construction of a rapid transit rail line down its median. Route 28, which runs north–south along the eastern edge of the airport, has been upgraded to a limited access highway, with the interchanges financed through a property tax surcharge on nearby business properties. The Dulles Toll Road has been extended to the west to Leesburg as the Dulles Greenway.
Fairfax Connector routes 981 and 983 serve Dulles, connecting to the Herndon–Monroe park & ride lot in Herndon, the Reston Town Center transit in Reston, the Wiehle – Reston East Metro station, and the Steven F. Udvar-Hazy Center Air and Space Museum.
The "Express" 5A Metrobus route operates service to the airport. The bus stops at the Herndon–Monroe park & ride lot in Herndon and the Rosslyn Metro station in Arlington and terminates at the L'Enfant Plaza Metro station in Southwest DC. Rosslyn can be accessed by the Orange, Blue, and Silver lines, while L'Enfant Plaza is also served by the Yellow and Green lines.
Washington Flyer's Silver Line Express bus service operates roughly every 15–20 minutes between the airport and the Wiehle – Reston East Metro station. This service will be permanently discontinued when Phase II of the Silver Line opens in 2020.
Passengers connecting to the Shenandoah Valley can use the Shenandoah Valley Commuter Bus, which connects to the Vienna and Rosslyn Metro stations. Washington Flyer has a monopoly to operate cabs from Dulles Airport. SuperShuttle ride sharing vans are also available. Uber and Lyft are popular modes are transport to and from the airport and MWAA receives a $4 fee per trip, which is included in the quoted fare.
Construction is underway to connect the airport to Washington, D.C. via the Silver Line of the Washington Metro. While initial plans called for completion of the station in 2016, officials now expect the construction to be completed in 2020.
Media related to Washington Dulles International Airport at Wikimedia Commons