I am trying to book a domestic flight to Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport (DCA) at the end of this month. The itinerary I am looking is such that the flight will land at DCA at around 11:00 P.M, which I am assuming will be the last flight of the day. I'm moving into my new apartment the very next day, but I won't most likely have a place to stay overnight, so I am thinking of crashing at the airport in the lounge where the plane lands, and then waking up in the morning and catching a ride to my new place.

Is this allowed etc., especially at large airports located in large urban centers?

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    Take a look at Sleeping In Airports
    – user105640
    Commented Jul 4, 2020 at 23:00
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    @Arthur'sPass, you could post a short quote/excerpt from that web page as an answer ... (the short answer appears to be "yes, but outside of the secure area" - so not "in the lounge where the plane lands"
    – Ben Bolker
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 0:00
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    Dulles is IAD. Are you sure you are not flying in to Reagan (DCA)? Reagan is the airport in the middle of an urban center. Dulles is way out west, more convenient to cornfields than the big city. Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 1:12
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    @RobertColumbia Whoops, sorry guys. I confused the initials and the names of the airports.
    – user82261
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 1:34
  • @BenBolker, any idea what zones/areas of the airport are included in the secure area? Trying to figure this out as I would have to stay there overnight.
    – user82261
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 2:06

1 Answer 1


tl;dr It should be fine, if not necessarily comfortable. Depending on your budget and interest in roughing it, an airport hotel room would be a reasonable alternative.

From Sleeping in Airports and specifically from their Washingon Reagan Airport sleep guide:

While Washington Dulles [sic] Airport is technically open 24-hours, the Security checkpoints and Secure areas do close for the evening, likely by 11:00 PM. Even if you’re already inside Security, you may have to relocate to the pre-Secure area.

Since you asked in comments, that basically means you'll have to go out through the security checkpoints: you won't be able to stay "in the lounge where the plane lands".

Most seating here is equipped with armrests, so don’t expect too much comfort. Maybe travellers report sleeping on the floor, particularly near the heat vents next to the windows. A sleep mat or sleeping bag will provide some much-needed cushion.

Airport security don’t seem to mind overnight campers, as long as you stick to the pre-Security areas at night.

The site has more details about temperature (generally cold), brightness (generally bright), and other tips.

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    It may be worth calling the airport to confirm that this all still applies with the pandemic (as they may want to strictly limit the number of people in the airport to those essential), though there may well be a difference between the official policy and what's allowed in practice. I would be sure to have a backup plan in any case for the event that you get kicked out of the airport and have nowhere to go, especially as many of the usual options for reasonably safe places to hang out, drink coffee, use restrooms, etc... are now closed. Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 6:52
  • Good point, although I have always found it hard to find phone numbers to call for information about airports ...
    – Ben Bolker
    Commented Jul 5, 2020 at 16:33
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    I note that your first quote talks about Dulles airport; but that’s how it appears on the linked website. Presumably it’s just a typo. Commented Jul 10, 2020 at 12:11

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