A Guide to Airports in Virginia

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Virginia airports offering commercial passenger service range from large major metropolitan area airports to regional airports. Washington Dulles International Airport is the most popular of the handful of international airports. Domestic visitors can choose from any of the 10 total airports serving the Commonwealth of Virginia that are most convenient to their wallet and final Virginia destination. Some visitors to Virginia will also choose to fly into Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI); although it's in Maryland, it's a reasonable and often affordable choice for people heading to Northern Virginia.

Dulles International Airport (IAD)

Dulles Airport
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  • Location: Chantilly
  • Pros: Major international airport serving numerous destinations
  • Cons: No direct train to Washington, D.C. (yet) but can take a bus to the Silver Line.
  • Distance to the National Mall: With no traffic, a taxi will take about 35 minutes and cost at least $60. Public transportation is limited to taking the Silver Line of the Metro and a bus—the cost is about $10 total, but it'll take over about 75 minutes.

Serving Northern Virginia and Washington, D.C. Metropolitan Area, Dulles International Airport is a major international airport with direct and connecting flights to destinations across the United States and abroad: In 2019 it served over 24 million passengers. Dulles is a hub for United Airlines. It's noted for its main terminal building, designed by famous architect Eero Saarinen. The airport is located in Chantilly, Virginia, about 26 miles west of Washington, D.C. As of January 2021, there is no direct rail connection to D.C., but you can take the Silver Line out to Wiehle-Reston East, then take a $5 express bus that goes directly to the airport.

Ronald Reagan National Airport (DCA)

Ronald Reagan Airport
  • Location: Arlington
  • Pros: Closest airport to Washington, D.C.
  • Cons: Short runways mean that only smaller planes can fly here—long-haul routes are limited.
  • Distance to the National Mall: A six-minute taxi (with no traffic) will cost about $15. The airport also connects to downtown D.C. via Metro, and a ride to the National Mall will take about 15 minutes and cost $2 to $6.

Located in Arlington, Virginia, this is the closest airport to Washington, D.C. This convenient airport offers an ample selection of restaurants, lounges, and shops to help pass the time. The airport is also a short ride to most areas of downtown Washington, D.C.; Arlington, Virginia; and Alexandria, Virginia. But as the runway is quite short, only smaller planes are allowed to land here, limiting long-haul flights. Nonstop flights are essentially limited to transcontinental routes at the farthest.

Norfolk International Airport (ORF)

  • Location: Northeast Norfolk
  • Pros: Not crowded
  • Cons: Limited service, no public transportation
  • Distance to downtown Norfolk: A 15-minute cab will cost about $25.

Norfolk International Airport is the dominant airport in southeastern Virginia. It serves the Greater Hampton Roads area including Virginia Beach and northeastern North Carolina. Seven airlines fly into the airport, with nonstop destinations including San Diego, Chicago, and New York (LGA, JFK, and EWR). Though there's no public transportation connecting the airport to downtown Norfolk, there is a shuttle bus service that you can book to different towns across the region, including Williamsburg and Virginia Beach.

Richmond International Airport (RIC)

Richmond International Airport
  • Location: Sandston
  • Pros: Modern airport terminal, convenient to downtown
  • Cons: Limited nonstop service, can get crowded
  • Distance to Downtown Richmond: A 15-minute taxi ride will cost about $35. There is also a public bus—the 40-minute ride costs about $2.

Richmond International Airport serves the Richmond area of Central Virginia. It's an easy drive to many popular destinations including the Atlantic Coast, Williamsburg, and the Blue Ridge Mountains. Seven airlines fly nonstop out of RIC. It's the third-busiest airport in Virginia after Dulles and Reagan, serving more than four million passengers in 2019. Ground transportation includes taxis, public buses, and rental cars.

Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport (PHF)

  • Location: North Newport News
  • Pros: Convenient for destinations on the Virginia Peninsula; not crowded
  • Cons: Limited flights
  • Distance to Colonial Williamsburg: A 20-minute taxi will cost about $30. There's also a $5 bus that takes about 80 minutes.

Newport News-Williamsburg International Airport serves the Hampton Roads area on the Virginia Peninsula. It's located about 15 minutes from downtown Newport News and 20 minutes from Williamsburg and Hampton, Virginia—there are buses that connect the airport to these cities. Only American Airlines flies this airport with nonstop routes to Philadelphia, and Charlotte, North Carolina.

Roanoke-Blacksburg Regional Airport (ROA)

  • Location: North Roanoke
  • Pros: Not crowded
  • Cons: Limited service
  • Distance to Downtown Roanoke: A 10-minute taxi will cost about $15. There are also $4 buses that take from 25 to 40 minutes depending on the route.

Roanoke Regional Airport serves the Roanoke Valley, the New River Valley and surrounding areas in southwestern Virginia with nonstop service to approximately nine major cities on about 60 flights daily. Major airlines servicing Roanoke Airport are American, United, Delta, and Allegiant Air. Public transportation is limited to a $4 bus—most people take taxis or rent their own cars.

Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport (CHO)

  • Location: North of Charlottesville
  • Pros: Not crowded
  • Cons: Limited service
  • Distance to downtown Charlottesville: A 15-minute taxi will cost approximately $30.

Charlottesville-Albemarle Airport serves the Charlottesville/Albemarle region of Virginia with daily nonstop flights on American, Delta, and United to Atlanta, Charlotte, Chicago, New York, Philadelphia, and Washington, D.C. It's very convenient for access to the University of Virginia and downtown Charlottesville—the drive takes just 15 minutes. Public transportation is limited to a bus, and it takes four times as long as the drive (an hour).

Lynchburg Regional Airport (LYH)

  • Location: Southwest of Lynchburg
  • Pros: Not crowded
  • Cons: Limited service to one single airport
  • Distance to Downtown Lynchburg: A 10-minute taxi will cost about $25. There's also a 45-minute bus ride that costs $2.

Lynchburg Regional Airport provides six daily arriving and six daily departing flights with nonstop regional service out of Charlotte, operated by American Airlines. From there, passengers can connect to many domestic and international flights, as it's a hub for American.

Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport (SHD)

  • Location: Weyers Cave
  • Pros: Not crowded
  • Cons: Limited service
  • Distance to Downtown Harrisonburg: A 25-minute taxi will cost about $35.

Shenandoah Valley Regional Airport serves the beautiful Shenandoah Valley area of Virginia and is convenient to Interstates 81 and 64. The nearest large town is Harrisonburg. The airport is also close to Shenandoah National Park. United flies out of this airport to Chicago and Washington, D.C.

Baltimore-Washington International Thurgood Marshall Airport (BWI)

  • Location: South Baltimore, Maryland
  • Pros: Cheaper flights than Virginia airports
  • Cons: Far from Virginia, so it's only convenient if you're renting a car
  • Distance to Arlington: It's a 48-minute drive without traffic—don't bother with taxis, as they'll charge you over $150.

This airport is actually located in Maryland, but it often offers significantly cheaper flights than ones to Dulles or other Virginia airports. A rental car is the most convenient option for getting from BWI to Northern Virginia—the drive is under an hour. If you were already planning on renting a car, BWI is a good choice if airfare can be found at a discount compared to Dulles. Otherwise, it's best to just fly into a Virginia airport.

Article Sources
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  1. Fly Dulles. "About Dulles International Airport." Retrieved Jan 15, 2021.

  2. Fly Richmond. "Richmond International Airport (RIC) Reports 4.38 Million Passengers in 2019, a new annual record." Retrieved Jan. 16, 2021.