TSA requires that passengers on flights to or from DCA have to be screened by TSA security screeners. The security screening is the same as that required for passengers on commercial airlines, and generally takes only a few minutes. TSA also requires that aircraft and crew that fly to or from DCA without passengers (for instance, repositioning flights) have to be screened by TSA personnel.
Only specific airports (“gateway airports”) are equipped to accommodate this screening process. Only these airports have been approved by TSA as gateway airports for flights to DCA. Currently, there are 103 such airports (plus one heliport), as shown on the accompanying map. Your Chantilly Air scheduler will be pleased to help you locate an appropriate gateway airport.
All flights to DCA have to proceed via one of these gateway airports. Flights from DCA can proceed directly to any airport.
For instance, if you plan a trip from Washington, DC to Boston-Bedford’s Hanscom airport (BED), operating the flight from and to DCA is an ideal solution, since we do not have to stop at a gateway airport that is not on your planned route of flight. You simply board the airplane at DCA for your outbound flight, and the same is true for your return flight to DCA.
If you plan a trip from Washington, DC to an airport that is not a gateway, DCA can still be a component of an optimal travel plan. We simply pick you up at DCA, and fly you to your destination. In this case, for the return flight, we suggest that we fly to Dulles, or another surrounding airport in the Washington, DC area. We can still fly you to DCA on the return flight, but that would involve stopping at a gateway airport to clear security, and we feel that this might delay your flight unnecessarily.