Area airports plan for congestion, tighter security for inauguration

WASHINGTON — Airports in the D.C. area are urging passengers to be ready for longer wait times and busy terminals as hundreds of thousands of travelers arrive in the nation’s capital for the presidential inauguration.

Large crowds are expected from Thursday through Sunday, but the weekend will be especially congested as visitors check out of hotels and head home.

“We’ll have no issues handling inbound travelers before the inauguration,” said Rob Yingling spokesman for the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority, which oversees Reagan National and Dulles International airports. “What we’re mostly focusing on is giving people advice for leaving town after.”

Airline passengers should expect longer-than-usual wait times at ticket counters and security checkpoints. Passengers should also plan for more traffic on surrounding roadways. MWAA said airport staffing levels will be increased and police will be on hand to monitor curbsides and make sure traffic is moving in the passenger drop-off areas.

Travelers scheduled to fly on Saturday and Sunday are encouraged to arrive at the airport between two and four hours early. MWAA recommends that before travelers leave for the airport, they should monitor their flight status, check in online and print their boarding pass.

Airports experienced heavy passenger traffic following the 2013 presidential inauguration, but there is a chance the region’s airports will be a little less hectic this year.

“We have the benefit this year of that travel being spread out over a weekend versus on a weekday,” said Yingling.

More Airport Security

The Transportation Security Administration plans to provide a larger, more visible presence at airports during and after the inauguration.

Additional TSA officers will be assigned to assist screening operations at Reagan National. “That airport is expected to see the largest increase in the number of passengers departing after the weekend of inaugural events,” the TSA said in a statement.

More than a dozen extra canine teams will be deployed at Reagan National and will be “participating in a real-time threat assessment, by sniffing passengers for traces of explosives.”

Reagan National is not the only transportation hub that will have extra security. The TSA will send special teams of armed, federal law enforcement officers to each of the region’s three airports along with Union Station and select Metro stations.

Parking Deal

Reagan National is offering a deal on its garages for those driving in for the inauguration and looking for a place to store their car. On Inauguration Day only visitors can park at the airport for just $10 all day.

Reservations are required, and the promotion is limited to the first 1,200 bookings.

To sign up for the parking deal, visit flyreagan.com/parking, select the “Reserve Your Parking Online” link and enter “INAUG” in the promo code box.

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