American flyers, rejoice! The most dreaded gate at DCA is temporarily closing
This post contains references to products from one or more of our advertisers. We may receive compensation when you click on links to those products. Terms apply to the offers listed on this page. For an explanation of our Advertising Policy, visit this page.
Ronald Reagan Washington National Airport has some good news for the few people traveling during the coronavirus pandemic: they will not be flying out of the loathed Gate 35X for the foreseeable future.
The airport is closing the north pier, where 35X is located, in Terminal B/C and moving all American Airlines flights to the terminal’s central pier beginning May 4, the operator of Washington National (DCA) the Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority (MWAA) said Thursday. All of American’s flights will depart from gates 23-34 with gates 35-45 shuttered for the foreseeable future.
Located on ground level at Washington National, gate 35X has long been a source of derision for those flying out of the preferred airport for pols and lobbyists in the nation’s capital. Who can forget when Robert Mueller and Donald Trump Jr. were spotted waiting at the gate just feet from each other during the Mueller investigation of President Trump?
— POLITICO (@politico) July 27, 2018
Gate 35X was built for a bygone era of regional flying. When it opened in 1997, US Airways used the gate for its commuter operations that primarily consisted of turboprops that seated between 19 and 37 passengers. Fast forward to today, and the smallest regional jet that American flies to Washington has at least 50 seats.
During normal times, passengers bound for those flights board buses at Gate 35X that then take them to their remotely parked planes. Multiple flights are often called to board buses simultaneously, creating a crowded and — to many — unpleasant process.
John Potter, president and CEO of MWAA, called 35X the airport’s “biggest chokepoint” when work to replace it began in 2017.
— Edward Russell (@e_russell) April 14, 2020
The latest update from MWAA shows the new 14-gate concourse that will replace Gate 35X opening on schedule in July 2021. American, which will use the concourse, will be able to fitting out the concourse — including building a new Admirals Club — at the beginning of 2021.
The rapid decline in passenger numbers during the pandemic has, as yet, not changed the timeline for the new concourse, according to MWAA. The same is true for the new consolidated security checkpoints, due to open more than six months late in the final quarter of 2021, that are also part of the $1 billion Project Journey works.
Operating all of American’s flights from the central pier at Washington National should impact few travelers. The airline will fly up to 31 flights a day from the airport — none of which are on the 50-seat jets that operate from 35X — in May, according to Cirium schedules. This compares to an average of 228 flights a day last year.
JetBlue Airways, the only other tenant in National’s central pier, plans just two flights a day from the airport in May.
Washington National has not released traffic numbers for March, the first month effected by the pandemic, but passengers were up 6.7% year-over-year to 1.8 million in February.
Nationally, the Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screened 119,629 people on April 29, just 5% of the number a year ago.
Featured image by Andrew Harrer/Bloomberg via Getty Images.
Welcome to The Points Guy!
WELCOME OFFER: 80,000 Points
TPG'S BONUS VALUATION*: $1,650
CARD HIGHLIGHTS: 2X points on all travel and dining, points transferrable to over a dozen travel partners
*Bonus value is an estimated value calculated by TPG and not the card issuer. View our latest valuations here.
- Earn 80,000 bonus points after you spend $4,000 on purchases in the first 3 months from account opening. That's $1,000 when you redeem through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. Plus earn up to $50 in statement credits towards grocery store purchases within your first year of account opening.
- Earn 2X points on dining including eligible delivery services, takeout and dining out and travel. Plus, earn 1 point per dollar spent on all other purchases.
- Get 25% more value when you redeem for airfare, hotels, car rentals and cruises through Chase Ultimate Rewards®. For example, 80,000 points are worth $1,000 toward travel.
- With Pay Yourself Back℠, your points are worth 25% more during the current offer when you redeem them for statement credits against existing purchases in select, rotating categories.
- Get unlimited deliveries with a $0 delivery fee and reduced service fees on eligible orders over $12 for a minimum of one year with DashPass, DoorDash's subscription service. Activate by 12/31/21.
- Count on Trip Cancellation/Interruption Insurance, Auto Rental Collision Damage Waiver, Lost Luggage Insurance and more.
- Get up to $60 back on an eligible Peloton Digital or All-Access Membership through 12/31/2021, and get full access to their workout library through the Peloton app, including cardio, running, strength, yoga, and more. Take classes using a phone, tablet, or TV. No fitness equipment is required.