Airports

Dulles International Airport (IAD) Guide: 2022

By
Melanie Wynne
|
Freelancer
Dulles International Airport
May 16, 2022
|
10 min read

Built in 1962, Dulles was the first US airport designed specifically to accommodate commercial jets. At 20 square miles and 11,184 acres, it’s the largest of the three major airports in the DC-Maryland-Virginia (DMV) area; the other two are Baltimore/Washington (BWI) and Reagan National (DCA). 

About Dulles International Airport

Washington Dulles International Airport (IAD) was designed by acclaimed Finnish-American architect Eero Saarinen and named for John Foster Dulles, Secretary of State from 1953-1959 under President Eisenhower. It serves 32 airlines with four runways (and in the future, a fifth) and is considered the main international hub for the greater DC area. 

From 2000 to 2011, the multi-billion dollar Dulles Development Program (D2) expanded the airport with construction projects like two new parking garages, a fourth runway, a new concourse (Z), a new Air Traffic Control tower, pedestrian walkways and the Aerotrain. Now underway through the end of 2023, the airport’s sustainability-focused Master Plan program is assessing how to further grow and develop the airport; at full build-out, Dulles will handle 55 million passengers a year (150,000 a day).

  • Airport code: IAD
  • Official address: 1 Saarinen Circle, Dulles, Virginia 20166 
  • Distance from IAD to Washington, DC: 26 miles
  • Transport options: Metro / Various Buses / Taxi / Rideshare Apps
  • Airlines served: 32
  • Hubs for: United, Southern Airways Express
  • Domestic nonstop flights to: 81 cities
  • International nonstop flights to: 52 countries
  • Terminals: 1
  • Concourses: 5
  • Gates: 139
  • On time departures: 82%
  • On time arrivals: 78%
  • Security wait times: 10.5 minutes (on average)
  • Hours: 24 hours a day
  • Official site: flydulles.com
  • Wikipedia: en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dulles_International_Airport
  • Approximate # of yearly passengers: 15,000,000 (2021) 
  • Approximate # of yearly flights: 200,000 (2021)

Airlines Flying From IAD

Main Terminal: Aer Lingus—Aeroflot Russian Airlines—Air Canada—Air China Airlines—Air France—Air India—Alaska Airlines—American Airlines—ANA Airlines—Austrian Airlines—Avianca Airlines—British Airways—Brussels Airlines—Cathay Pacific—COPA Airlines—Delta Airlines—Emirates—Ethiopian Airlines—Etihad Airlines—Icelandair—KLM Airlines—Korean Air Lines—Lufthansa—Porter Airlines—Qatar Airways—Royal Air Maroc Airlines—SAS Scandinavian Airlines—Saudia Airlines—South African Airways—Southern Airways Express—Southwest Airlines—Turkish Airlines—United Airlines—Virgin America Airlines—Virgin Atlantic

Concourse A: Alitalia—Egyptair—TAP Air Portugal—Volaris Airlines

Terminal Layout

Main Terminal: Capped by an iconic curved roof, the Terminal is divided into two levels: Upper (Ticketing and Security) and Lower (Arrivals/Baggage Claim and Ground Transportation/Parking). 

On the Lower Level at Arrivals/Baggage Claim is the Aerotrain platform (providing access to the A, B, C and Z gates) and as well as the shuttle bus to D gates. 

To the right of the Aerotrain platform is the International Arrivals Building, where services and amenities include ATMs, Baggage Claim carousels 1-15, electronic charging stations, the lost property desk, the USO lounge, and at Door 4, access to the Silver Line Express bus. There’s a waiting area immediately outside the International Arrivals Building near Baggage Claim 15; after clearing US Customs, international arrivals come through doors between Baggage Claim 4 and 12. 

On the Upper Level, there are four ticketing areas plus two security checkpoint areas, East and West. After clearing security, you can proceed left to the Z gates (Z6-Z10), right to the Mobile Lounge shuttle to Concourses D and C, or proceed straight to the pedestrian walkway to Concourses A and B. 

Concourse A: Gates A1-A32. Amenities here include the Washington Dulles International Airport Chapel across from gate A32, which welcomes all faiths. Also near Gate 32 is a pet relief area, adjacent to the Virgin Atlantic lounge. The Sleepbox nap pod hotel is between gates A6 and A14. There’s a nursing room near Gate A20, and free charging stations can be found throughout the Concourse.

Concourse B: Gates B38-B81. Features 13,000 square feet of retail space, and free charging stations at all gates. The FunWay children's play area and a nursing room are located near door B70, and there are smoking areas across from gate B37 and off gate B73.

Concourse C: Gates C1-C28. Free charging stations can be found throughout the Concourse. There is a nursing room near Gate C11 and a smoking area across from Gate C2.

Concourse D: Gates D1-D32. Amenities here include a nursing room and a pet relief area, both near Gate D1, a smoking area opposite Gate D30, and free charging stations throughout the Concourse. 

Z Gates: Connected to the Main Terminal, this 20,800-square-foot mini concourse has only four gates, Gates Z6-Z10. 

Getting Between the Terminal and Concourses

Dulles airport.

The 24-hour Aerotrain runs underground between the Terminal and Concourses A, B and C. If your gate is in Concourse D, take the Aerotrain to Concourse C and walk. Note that the Terminal Station for the Aerotrain is past security, and travel time between stations is less than two minutes. 

A 1,000-foot passenger walkway connects the Terminal and Concourse B, featuring moving sidewalks in both directions.

Dulles also has 19 Mobile Lounges, elevated airport vehicles that date back to the1960s and run between the Main Terminal and Concourses A and D. Each of these vehicles can transport about 100 passengers directly to their aircraft without the need to walk on the airfield. They run every five minutes, and direct trips can take up to 15 minutes. 

Flying In, Out, or Through the Dulles Airport 

Security and Customs

Dulles has three TSA Security Checkpoints: East, West, and TSA Precheck. All are accessed from the Departures - Ticketing/Check-In Level. Wait times average 10 ½ minutes, but on Fridays between 9-10 pm, they can be as long as 28 minutes. 

map of Dulles security checkpoints.

Security hours of operation are: 

  • East Security Checkpoint: 3:45 am - 10:30 pm
  • West Security Checkpoint: 8 am - 12 pm & 1:30 pm - 7 pm
  • TSA Precheck: 4:30 am to 10 pm

Global Entry at IAD

Global Entry kiosks are available in Customs for international arrivals. 

CLEAR at IAD

CLEAR kiosks are available at the lower-level East Security Checkpoint and at the entrance of the TSA Precheck on the Ticketing Level of the Terminal.

Mobile Passport at IAD

Dulles enables you to use this expedited security app on your smartphone or tablet. Once you land at IAD, connect to wi-fi (or use cellular data), submit your trip data, and within a few seconds, you’ll receive a receipt with an encrypted barcode. Your receipt will be valid for 4 hours. You’ll then be able to skip the lines by following the Mobile Passport Control signs, showing your passport to the Customs officer, and scanning the barcode on the receipt. 

Arrival Times

  • International departures: at least 3.5 hours before your flight
  • Domestic departures: at least 2 hours before your flight

Metro delays and traffic congestion are common issues, so it’s also advisable to allow extra travel time to the airport.

IAD Wifi and Charging Stations

Free Wi-Fi access is available in the Terminal and all concourses. To connect, choose the "FlyDulles" network. 

Free charging stations are located throughout each concourse in gate areas, in the Concourse B food court near Gate B73, and in the Terminal outside the International Arrivals doorway. 

Connecting Flights at IAD

The 24-hour AeroTrain connects the Main Terminal and the A, B and C concourses. The Terminal station is just past the security checkpoints. For landings or connections at Concourse D, Mobile Lounges are your best bet for transportation; these vehicles run every five minutes, and direct trips can take up to 15 minutes. 

Dulles concourse map

Passengers arriving at IAD on most international flights won’t ride the AeroTrain because they have to clear U.S. customs first. For international arrivals making a connection, there are Global Entry kiosks and a dedicated Mobile Passport lane.  

Minimum connection times at IAD: 

  • Domestic connection: 1 hour
  • Domestic to international: 2 hours
  • International to domestic: 2.5  hours

Have a long layover? Read our guide to Washington, DC.

Map of the Dulles Airport

map of Dulles IAD

Getting to and from the Dulles Airport

How to get from IAD to Washington, DC

Metrorail (DC Metro subway)

The Metro bus 5A, the Silver Line express bus, and the Fairfax Connector Route 983 ($2)—see more info below on these buses—connect the airport with Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station (Silver Line) in 10 minutes. To plan your trip from IAD on the DC Metro, click here

Metrorail hours

Monday-Thursday: 5 am - 12 am
Friday: 5 am - 1 am
Saturday: 7 am - 1 am
Sunday: 7 am - 12 am

Metrobus Route 5A

This bus runs every 30 minutes to/from Rosslyn, Virginia and L'Enfant Plaza in DC. Also, it includes a stop enroute at the Herndon-Monroe Park and Ride Garage. Buses are available at curb 2E on the Ground Transportation Level.

At the airport: Board buses on the second curb after exiting down the ramp from Baggage Claim. The trip takes 50-60 minutes. It operates from 5:50 am to 11:35 pm (from 6:35 am on the weekends).

At L'Enfant Plaza Metro Station: Wait for Metrobus 5A at Bus Stop "J". The bus stop is located on D Street between 7th and 6th Streets in front of the Constitution Center Building.

At Rosslyn Metro station: Wait for Metrobus 5A at Bus Stop "A." The bus stop is near the intersection of Moore and 19th streets. The fare is $7.50 for this express service, payable by SmarTrip or cash. When traveling from Dulles, prepare your payment as there are no SmarTrip card stations at the airport.

Fairfax Connector Bus Route 981 and Route 983

Local bus with stops at the Smithsonian Udvar-Hazy Air & Space Museum. Route 983 serves the museum and operates only during museum hours. Route 981 operates outside of museum hours. Both routes serve locations in Reston, including the Wiehle-Reston East Metrorail Station ($2). Buses are available at curb 2E on the Ground Transportation Level.

Board buses on the second curb after exiting down the ramp from Baggage Claim. They depart between 5:54 am and 11:51 pm.

Silver Line Express

This bus connects the airport with Wiehle-Reston East Metro Station between 6 am and 9:40 pm (Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 7:45 am). Travel time is around 15 minutes and buses leave every 15-20 minutes. Free wi-fi on-board. There’s a luggage storage area on board.

Tickets cost $5 and can be purchased at the counter located by Arrivals door 4. Metrorail SmartTrip Cards may be purchased inside any Metrorail Station. 

Virginia Breeze

This intercity bus service connects Blacksburg, Virginia, with Union Station in DC. The daily route, the Valley Flyer, has a stop in Dulles airport Curb 2A (1:30 pm) and also includes several stops in the New River Valley, Shenandoah Valley and Northern Virginia. Ticket prices range from $15 to $50 (Arlington, VA $16, Union Station $19).

Megabus.com

Bus service connecting Charlottesville, Virginia with Dulles Airport and Union Station in DC. Buses are available at Curb 2A. The bus makes three trips a day between Dulles and Union Station, and the trip averages 45 minutes and $15-$19. 

Shuttle

Meet your shuttle bus or van on the Ground Transportation level, at section 1D or 1E. Popular shuttles include GO The Airport Shuttle and Super Shuttle

Taxi

Washington Flyer Taxicabs is IAD’s official, exclusive taxi company, with 24-hour service to and from the airport. From the terminal Arrivals Level – Baggage Claim, head down the ramp at Doors 2 or 6. A customer service representative is available 24-hours a day. No reservations are necessary for taxi service. Washington Flyer fares average $55 to Arlington, VA and $70 to Washington, DC.

NOTE: If you want a non-Washington Flyer cab, you’ll have to make advance arrangements directly with that cab service for pickup at Dulles; non-Washington Flyer cabs aren’t allowed to solicit passengers on IAD property.

Uber, Lyft and Via

Pickup zone is on the ground level outside of Baggage Claim, accessible via Doors 2, 4 or 6. The canopy-covered zone features numbered pickup areas for convenience. Airport drop-offs for all rideshare vehicles are on the Departures Level. Fares to Arlington and Washington, DC range between $50 and $60.

Food at Dulles Airport

Main Terminal 

The only Post-Security offerings here are Dunkin’ Donuts and Subway, the latter located by the Z Gates. There are, however, several Pre-Security eateries on the Lower Level: Capitol Grounds Coffee (Baggage Claim #4); Dulles Gourmet Market [open 24 hours] and Starbucks (Baggage Claim #14); Cafe Americana (Baggage Claim #15). District Chophouse is the one Pre-Security restaurant on the Upper Level, in the Ticketing area.

  • Best breakfast: Dunkin’ Donuts, Capitol Grounds Coffee
  • Best quick bite: Subway, Dulles Gourmet Market
  • Best sit-down meal: District Chophouse
  • Best bar: Cafe Americana
  • Best late-night: Cafe Americana (open until 10pm)
  • Best with kids: Dunkin’ Donuts 

Concourse A

There are five options here: The Firkin & Fox Pub and Jersey Mike’s Subs (Gate A3); Smashburger and Starbucks (Gate A5); and Dunkin’ Donuts (Gate A22).

  • Best breakfast: Starbucks, Dunkin’ Donuts
  • Best quick bite: Jersey Mike’s Subs
  • Best sit-down meal: The Firkin & Fox Pub
  • Best bar: The Firkin & Fox Pub
  • Best late-night: The Firkin & Fox Pub (open until 10 pm)
  • Best with kids: Smashburger

Concourse B

Casual is the name of the game, with mostly fast food options. Moving through the concourse, you’ll find: Carrabba’s Italian Grill (B38); Wendy’s (Gate B45); Chick-fil-A, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, and Peet’s Coffee (Gate B46); Bracket Room Sports Lounge and Vino Volo Wine Room (Gate B50); DC3 Hot Dogs and Five Guys Burgers & Fries (Gate B71); Washington Burgundy and Gold Club (Gate B73); and Capitol Grounds Coffee (Gate B74).

  • Best breakfast: Capitol Grounds Coffee, Bracket Room Sports Lounge
  • Best quick bite: Chick-fil-A, Potbelly Sandwich Shop
  • Best sit-down meal: Carrabba’s Italian Grill  
  • Best bar: Bracket Room Sports Lounge, Vino Volo Wine Room
  • Best late-night: Vino Volo Wine Room (open until 10pm)
  • Best with kids: DC3 Hot Dogs, Five Guys Burgers & Fries 

Concourse C

Fast food is still plentiful here, but The Chef’s Table by Wolfgang Puck (Gate C3) and Au Bon Pain (Gate C14) give you some healthier options, too. Other choices are: Subway (Gate C2); Devil’s Backbone Taproom (Gate C3); Auntie Anne’s Pretzels (Gate C9); brb (be right burger) and Chef Geoff’s (Gate C14); American Tap Room (Gate C22); Starbucks (Gate C24); &pizza (Gate C28). 

  • Best breakfast: Au Bon Pain
  • Best quick bite: &pizza
  • Best sit-down meal: The Chef’s Table by Wolfgang Puck
  • Best bar: American Tap Room
  • Best late-night: The Chef’s Table by Wolfgang Puck (open until 10pm)
  • Best with kids: &pizza, brb (be right burger)

Concourse D

You’ll find two (count ‘em, two!) Dunkin’ Donuts here (Gates D5 and D23), so no need to worry about going donut-less. You also won’t go hungry, with choices like Dulles Gourmet Market (Gate D5); Chick-fil-A (Gate D11); Bar Symon, Bistro Atelier, and Potbelly Sandwich Shop (Gate D14); Pizza Hut (Gate D15); Starbucks (Gate D16); Wow Bao (Gate D18); and DC Craft Brews (Gate D23).

  • Best breakfast: Bistro Atelier, Bar Symon
  • Best quick bite: Wow Bao, Potbelly Sandwich Shop
  • Best sit-down meal: Bistro Atelier, Bar Symon
  • Best bar: Bistro Atelier, DC Craft Brews
  • Best late-night: Bistro Atelier (open until 10 pm)
  • Best with kids: Pizza Hut, Chick-fil-A

Lounges at Dulles Airport

Main Terminal 

USO Lounge
Location:
Arrivals Level, across from Baggage Carousel 12
Hours: 6 pm - 10 pm 
Access:
Active duty and retired military personnel, National Guard, reservists, and their dependents are welcome. 

Concourse A

Air France-KLM
Location:
In front of Gate A20
Hours: 10:30 am to last flight
Access:
La Première (plus one guest) or Business (no guest) cabin passengers, as well as you and a guest if you have Flying Blue Gold, Platinum, or Elite Plus status. Available to Priority Pass cardholders. Shared with Korean Air, Iceland Air and certain Skyteam partner airlines.
Day Pass: $50 or 6,000 miles

Etihad Airways (temporarily closed)
Location:
Near Gate A14
Hours:
First flight to last flight
Access: Business or First Class passengers on an Etihad-operated flight, or Etihad Gold or Platinum members. Etihad Economy passengers can purchase a day pass. 
Day Pass:
$75. 

Virgin Atlantic 
Location:
Next to Gate A32
Hours:
2 pm - 8 pm
Access:
Virgin Atlantic Upper Class; Flying Club Gold members flying Virgin Atlantic; passengers on Delta One; and the following cardholders flying Virgin Atlantic—Delta SkyMiles Diamond, Platinum, and Gold Medallion, and Flying Blue Platinum and Gold.  

Concourse B

British Airways
Location:
Across from B-Gates AeroTrain station
Hours: 3:15 pm - 9:45 pm
Access: BA Business Class and First Class, One World Sapphire and Emerald Tiers, Priority Pass. Shared with Aer Lingus. 

Lufthansa 
Location:
Next to Gates B49 - B51
Hours: 1:30 pm - 10 pm
Access:
There is one entrance here for both a Business Lounge and Senator Lounge. The Business Lounge welcomes Lufthansa and Star Alliance Business Class passengers, Miles & More Frequent Traveler members, and Priority Pass. The Senator Lounge is reserved for Star Alliance Gold, Miles & More Senator members, and First Class passengers.

Turkish Airlines
Location:
Next to Gate B43
Hours:
6 am - 11 pm
Access: Turkish Airlines Business Class and First Class, One World Sapphire and Emerald Tiers, and Priority Pass. Shared with Qatar Airways.

Concourse C

United Airlines
Location: Three separate lounges, next to gates C4, C7, C17 
Hours:
C4 5 am - 10 pm, C7 9 am - 6:30 pm, C17 5:30 am - 10pm 
Access:
United Business First, United First, United Business, First class on a Star Alliance member airline, Business class on a Star Alliance member airline, Star Alliance Gold membership card or boarding pass. 
United Club:
$650 or 85,000 miles
Day Pass:
$59 

United Polaris Lounge
Location:
Near Gate C18
Hours:
5:30 am - 10 pm
Access:
Passengers flying on United Polaris business class. 

Concourse D

United Airlines
Location: Next to gates D8
Hours:
5:30 am - 6:30 pm  
Access:
United Business First, United First, United Business, First class on a Star Alliance member airline, Business class on a Star Alliance member airline, Star Alliance Gold membership card or boarding pass. 
United Club:
$650 or 85,000 miles
Day Pass:
$59 

Sleeping at Dulles Airport 

Dulles Airport Hotels

Best Hotels near the Dulles Airport

Nap Pods at IAD

In Concourse A, up the escalator beside the Aerotrain station, a Sleepbox Lounge offers 16 soundproof “micro-hotel rooms” with memory foam beds, power outlets, and wireless entertainment. There are two room types, each with eight-foot ceilings: the compact suite is 30 square feet, and the standard room is 45 square feet. Rooms are reserved and booked on a 30-minute basis via the Sleepbox app, available on Google Play and Apple. The Sleepbox app also enables you to adjust the brightness and color of the lights in your room, as well as the temperature. 

Shopping at Dulles Airport

Concourse B has the best shopping at Dulles, with outposts of Coach, Estee Lauder, M.A.C., L’Occitane, Kiehl’s, Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren Polo, Swarovski, Tumi, Vera Bradley, and Vineyard Vines. Pen lovers will rejoice over the Montblanc shop in Concourse A (Gate A32), and if you need DC-related souvenirs, Uniquely DC in Concourse D (Gate D18) is your spot.

There are seven Duty Free Americas shops at Dulles:

  • Concourse A: Gate A14 & A32
  • Concourse B: Gate B50
  • Concourse C: Gate C4 & C14
  • Concourse D: Gate D3 & D16

Things to do at Dulles Airport

  1. Check out public art by DMV-area artists, found throughout the airport. 
  2. Enjoy live performances by musicians, singers, and dancers throughout the year. November, for example, features a month-long classical music series. 
  3. Shop ‘til you drop in Concourse B. From clothing and makeup to luggage and accessories, chances are good you’ll find what you “need” here.  
  4. Bliss out in one of the two Be Relax Spas in Concourse B. Found at Gate B32 and Gate B64, these havens of calm offer facials, mani-pedis, and massage services.
  5. Try a Virginia-made wine or beer. Dulles is set in Northern Virginia, so why not try some local tipples while you’re here? Vino Volo has a few Virginia wines on offer (the state is the birthplace of American winemaking) and popular Virginia brewer Devil’s Backbone offers IPAs, stouts, ales, lagers, and more. 
  6. Consider a Priority Pass membership for lounge access. Space permitting, you’ll have access to the Air France-KLM Lounge in Concourse A, and the Turkish Airways, British Airways, and Lufthansa Business lounges in Concourse B. You’ll also get $28 off your bill at Chef Geoff’s in Concourse C. Annual fees range from $99-$429, and can include entry fees of $32 at each lounge. 

Things to do with at Dulles Airport with kids

Dulles isn’t the most kid-friendly of American airports, but these are a few things your kids won’t want to miss:

  1. The FunWay play area in Concourse B (see below for more details).
  2. Public art by area artists, found throughout the airport. 
  3. Planespotting. The rear windows at Concourses C and D have the best views of the runways, and you can download the Planespotting app to help make a game of ID-ing aircraft as it takes off and lands. 
  4. Tucking into burgers, hot dogs, and/or pizza. Dulles may not be a gourmet destination, but cuisine-wise, it’s kid heaven. Your tots will be spoiled for choice with Smashburger, DC Dogs, & pizza and much more. 
  5. Donuts! There are four outposts of Dunkin’ Donuts to choose from: two in the Terminal, and two in Concourse D. Kill some time just by perusing the loooong donut menu.  
  6. Books and magazines at Capitol City Ink. These bookstores can be found in the Terminal and in Concourses A, C and D, and each has a grand selection of kid-friendly literature. 

Nursing rooms in IAD

Terminal, Pre-Security 

Four locations on Arrivals Level - Baggage Claim, next to the restrooms across from Baggage Claims 2, 6, 11 and 14. 

Post-Security

  • Concourse A: Near Gate A20
  • Concourse B: Near Gate B70 (includes a private restroom)
  • Concourse C: Near Gate C11 (includes a sink)
  • Concourse D: Near Gate D1

Kids play area in IAD

In Concourse B, near gate B70, Dulles and NASA have a jointly-created play area called the FunWay. It features interactive game displays, a slide called the Tommy Tower, and aviation-themed climbing structures. Here you’ll also find free aviation-inspired crossword puzzles and word searches, plus facts about air and space. Along the perimeter, there are comfy seats and charging stations for supervising adults. 

Traveling through IAD with pets

Washington Dulles International Airport has designated Service Animal/Pet Relief Areas for our customers traveling with service animals or pets. We have several locations for your pet to use.

Pet relief areas

There are five pet relief areas at IAD—two inside and three outside. These are clearly marked, and contain waste bags and trash cans. 

Inside concourses (post-security)

  • Concourse A: Adjacent to Gate A32, next to the Virgin Atlantic lounge
  • Concourse D: Across from Gate D1, near &pizza 

Outside the Terminal (pre-security)

Departures Level - Ticketing/Check-In:

  • Exit the terminal Door 16 near the United Airlines ticket counter and turn right
  • Exit the terminal Door 1 near the AeroMexico ticket counter and turn left

Arrivals Level - Baggage Claim: 

  • Exit near Baggage Claim 1, take and exit the tunnel, and walk across the parking lot. The pet relief area is straight ahead. 

Interfaith chapel

The Washington Dulles International Chapel is in Concourse A across from Gate A32, next to the Virgin Atlantic lounge. You have to go through security to visit the chapel, and it’s open to passengers and airport employees 24 hours a day. It’s staffed by ordained and licensed clergy as well as trained lay volunteers, and scriptures and literature are available in several languages, including English, Spanish, French, Urdu, Amharic and Polish. 

Services:

  • Daily: 12 pm Jewish Prayer (non clergy led)
  • Sunday: 9:30 am Christian Worship
  • Wednesday: 7 pm Christian Prayer Service
  • Friday: 1:30 pm Muslim Prayer Service
  • Saturday: 5:45 pm Catholic Mass

Dulles Airport car rental

The Washington, DC area is well served by public transportation, but because it includes large parts of Virginia and Maryland, distances can be long. Unless you’re staying exclusively in downtown DC—where parking tends to be expensive—having your own car is a good idea.

That said, rush hour traffic on DMV highways is legendary, so if possible, avoid leaving the airport area between 7-10 am and 4-7 pm. On weekends, holidays, and at night, airport area traffic isn’t generally an issue. 

Picking Up Your Car: From IAD’s Baggage Claim level, outside the exit at gates 2 and 4, rental car shuttle buses pick up at Curb 2C or Curb 2D. Make sure to look up which car rental company you’ve booked with before boarding a bus; some companies pick up their customers on a shared bus, while others have their own. 

Returning Your Car: Follow airport road signs to Rental Car Return. All rental car lots are located on Autopilot Drive. After returning your car, ride your rental company's free shuttle bus to the Terminal.

These rental car companies serve IAD:

Parking at IAD Airport

Terminal Parking

This is the closest lot to the Terminal, just a few steps away. It has two access points to the Terminal via the underground pedestrian walkway. Fees: $6 per hour, $25 per day

Garage Parking (Garages 1 & 2)

These lots are at the airport, and you can either walk or take their free, 24/7 shuttle to/from the Terminal’s Curb 2F. Garage 1 connects to the Terminal via an underground pedestrian walkway equipped with moving sidewalks. Garage 2 connects to the Terminal via a covered pedestrian walkway. Use Garage 2 if you are flying international, as it is the closest for most international flights. Fees: $6 per hour, $17 per day

Economy Parking

Set near the airport, this lot offers a Economy Shuttle from Curb 2F that runs 24/7. 

Fees: $12 per day 

Ticketless Entry

Ticketless Entry is available at IAD Garages and Economy Parking. At the entry to the parking location, insert your credit card (Visa, MasterCard or American Express), then insert the same credit card when you leave the facility. No ticket is required. 

Electric Vehicle (EV) Parking Stations

Garage 1: 2 stations on Level 1, 10 stations on Level 3 (all 120V)

Garage 2: 10 stations on Level 1 (120V), 6 stations on Level 3 (four 120V and two 240V)

Accessible/Handicap Parking

Terminal Lot: Rows 2 to 30

Garage 1: Level 1, Rows L to N

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Frequently asked questions about Dulles Airport

How early to get to IAD?

For International departures you should arrive at Dulles 3 ½+ hours before a flight. For domestic departures, it's wise to arrive at 2+ hours before a flight.

How long do I need for a connection at IAD?

For a domestic connection at Dulles, allow 1 hour. For a domestic to international connection, allow 2 hours, and if you're arriving on an international flight and connecting to a domestic one, allow at least 2 ½ hours.

How long do I need to leave the airport on a layover at IAD?

If you’re planning on visiting DC, you’ll need at least nine hours to travel there and back, visit one museum or attraction, and have a brief meal. If heading to nearby Reston Town Center, an outdoor commercial center with shopping and dining, allow at least three hours.

Is there luggage storage at IAD?

Due to TSA security regulations, Dulles International currently doesn’t provide a designated luggage storage area. Services like Vertoe and StoreMe, however, can help you find short-term luggage storage space near the airport or your destination(s).

How far is Dulles Airport from downtown DC?

It's about 30 miles from Dulles to DC. (It’s 26 miles from the Virginia-DC border.)

What’s the fastest way to get from IAD to downtown DC?

At non-rush hour times, it takes about 36 minutes to drive or take a non-shared ride (about $55). To Union Station, the Megabus ($13-$21) takes 50 minutes, and the Virginia Breeze bus ($14-$19) takes 1 hour and 5 minutes.

Do I need a real ID to fly out of Virginia?

Yes and no. Beginning May 3, 2023, you’ll need a REAL ID if you want to use only your driver’s license/ID card as your identification in order to fly out of Virginia. If you don’t get a REAL ID, then beginning May 3, 2023, you’ll need both your license/ID and an alternate form of federally accepted identification, such as a valid US passport or a Global entry card.

Last Updated 
May 16, 2022
Dulles International Airport (IAD) Guide: 2022
Melanie Wynne
Freelancer

Passionate about travel, wine, and words, Melanie has visited 67 countries. She grew up in Washington, D.C., went to NYU Film School, spent 23 years in LA, returned to D.C. for a bit, learned to make wine in Sonoma County, and is now in Richmond, VA. The former Travel Editor for The Points Guy, she's written for Condé Nast Traveler, National Geographic Traveler, Marriott Bonvoy Traveler, and more.

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